Surviving the application marathon: 5 preparation tips for the assessment center job interview recruiting day

If the invitation to the online assessment beckons immediately after sending the application, applicants start a race against time. Many candidates fail at the first hurdle because they misjudge the timeline.


  • Panic before the online assessment
  • The application clock is ticking faster and faster
  • How to master the application marathon – 5 tips:
  • 1. Be prepared for anything
  • 2. Acting is not a good strategy
  • 3. Online assessment
  • 4. Here’s how to approach personality tests
  • 5. How to train for cognitive performance tests

Panic before the online assessment

Thomas was amazed when he filled out the application form on the career portal of a large technology company, uploaded his documents and received a reply in his mail inbox after just two hours.

The rude awakening came after opening the mail: "We invite you to our online assessment, which you may complete within the next three days."Panic-stricken, Thomas begins to search various applicant forums on the Internet in order to find out anything useful about this online assessment.

The application clock is ticking faster and faster

Whereas applicants used to be able to sit back and relax after sending in their documents and wait for the HR department to get back to them at some point, today the application clock is ticking faster and faster. In all larger organizations, the application process and the associated pre-selection are automated. Applicant information from the online form is matched with the requirements profile.

However, if you are a good fit, you still don’t have an invitation to an interview or even an assessment center in your pocket. This serves as an automated filter to further reduce the number of suitable candidates. Only those who pass this hurdle make it to the next selection stage. This is how the selection process for graduates works in many large companies.

How to master the application marathon – 5 tips:

In the case of selection processes that are timed to suit sporting events, it can happen that after the online application has been submitted, both the online assessment and the interview as well as the final assessment center have to be completed within two weeks – always assuming, of course, that the applicant has been able to qualify for the next selection stage in each case.

1. Be prepared for anything

When applying for a job, you should be prepared for anything once you’ve hit the send button – including ending up in the online assessment at short notice, as in the case of Thomas. Because, unfortunately, not all employers make their selection process transparent in advance.

If you apply for a job in a large organization, you can expect to go through a demanding selection process in a very short time. There may be some natural talents, but in procedures such as online assessments, interviews and assessment centers, a master rarely falls from the sky. Candidates who perform well in such procedures have usually also prepared themselves thoroughly.

2. Acting is not a good strategy

Whereby preparation does not mean faking, tricks or rehearsing a role. Dazzlers are likely to make it through the online assessment, but will be exposed at one of the following selection stages. Applicants are better advised to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the position, the test methods used to check these requirements, and their own abilities. Simply put: If you are afraid of presentations, you should practice presenting until the assessment center.

If you are aware that numerical-logical tests are not one of your strengths, you should train specifically for such tests. It is unlikely that this will turn you into a numbers crack, but the chances are good to achieve a sufficient level in the real test based on a certain routine. Knowing the selection process and building up a certain routine will help you to perform better under stress. This is confirmed by the fact that candidates who have already gone through several similarly structured selection processes can benefit from these experiences and tend to improve.

3. Online assessment

The typical online assessment consists of different tests. These can be divided into personality tests and cognitive performance tests. The latter include, for example, numerical series, language analogies or the interpretation of tables and charts.

Personality tests, on the other hand, are aimed at attitudes and inclinations. As a test taker, you must evaluate a variety of statements, such as "I get along better with people who

  • a) realistic or
  • b) emotional are."

4. Here’s how to approach personality tests

For personality tests, it is advisable not to rack your brains for a long time, but to answer as honestly and spontaneously as possible. Tending to be a little more positive is fine.

But if you bend and try to achieve a supposedly ideal result, you are not doing yourself any favors. If only because he may not be happy at all later in the job if the requirements do not correspond at all to his own nature. In addition, personality tests are often equipped with lie scales that reveal the degree to which a respondent has made untruthful statements.

5. How to train cognitive performance tests

When preparing for an online assessment, focus on cognitive performance tests. Good results can be achieved by practicing. Cognitive performance tests can be roughly divided into the following categories:

  • Intelligence and logic tests: are used regardless of the industry. This includes, for example, verbal and numerical tests as well as the interpretation of graphs and tables.
  • Concentration tests: are used in professions where attention and concentration are crucial, such as in aviation, military, medical or police service.
  • Knowledge tests: are used to test both technical knowledge and general knowledge.
  • Other performance tests: include various procedures that are very requirement- and position-specific, such as a translation test for foreign language correspondents.

Practice the test procedures relevant to you in a targeted manner. This will help you develop a certain test routine that will help you recognize certain patterns and solve tests more accurately and quickly.

Consider in advance which tests are representative for your job profile or the requirement profile for the position you are aiming for. This is how a prospective banker will encounter different test modules in the online assessment than a technician. Information from applicant forums can provide information about what types of tests have been used for specific positions in the past.

On the other hand, you should be cautious about information from fellow students who post concrete test questions and sample solutions on the Internet. Employers are of course aware that information is passed on. Modern online assessments therefore now work with automatic item generators. The test questions are slightly modified and recombined for each test person, so that supposed sample solutions are of little use.

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