The starting premise for this article is that if you can enjoy the task-based selection process, you are more likely to put forward the best possible representation of the real you to the selection panel. And in any selection process, you can't do any better than that.
You want to finish the process knowing that you've done the best you can and don't have any regrets.
I've helped design and run dozens of task-based selection processes, and here is some insight that can help you prepare.
Firstly, it is unlikely that there will be any major surprises in the tasks that you are asked to take part in. Look at the job description for the position you're applying for, and this will give you a good indication of what to expect. It's not in an employer's interest to ask you to do tasks during the interview unrelated to the job.
Relax – the selection panel aren't out to trick you
Make sure you read and understand what you're being asked to do and think about what can be realistically achieved in the time available.
A classic example is the 'inbox prioritisation task', where you are given an inbox of items and asked to determine the order in which you would complete them. You will only have time to scan the items and list the order – reading every single item in full is a sure-fire way to run out of time.
So, work out the time you have and keep an eye on the clock – that way, you can stay calm and in control.
Concentrate on the skills and attributes in the person specification for the role and think about how you can best demonstrate that you meet the criteria. If an employer wants to test your knowledge, they can ask you direct questions that test you on this (or get you to complete a test).
Task-based selection processes are much more about assessing your skills and attributes
So, if you're going to practice for the big day – hone your skills, especially around how you interact with other people.
You will probably be asked to complete at least one task in a group with other candidates. The completion of the task will feel like the most important thing to you at the time, but it will only be a part of what the assessors are looking at. They will be much more interested in how you interact with others. Are you a team player? Can you lead without dominating? Do you listen? How do you challenge something you think to be wrong?
So, think as much about how you come across as you do about the task at hand.
The selection panel want to see the real you and not an 'acted out' version of you. I've seen candidates become exaggerated versions of what they think the panel are looking for and try to switch this on just for the task they are taking part in. Remember, the panel will have seen this 'Jekyll and Hyde' technique before!
The assessors or selection panel are real people (probably friendly people even!) who will help you if you ask them. If you're unsure what you're being tasked with then speak up and ask – the panel will be more impressed with you asking than they will with you going off at a tangent.
Engage with the panel as you would normally with a group of colleagues and don't be afraid of them.
So, be your usual, relaxed, happy self and enjoy the process. Don't try to be someone that you are not. It's far less stressful too!
Carl Parker is a freelance Learning and Development consultant at Progressive Spark: