Welcome to the Candidate Assessment Safari

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Who needs to go on an expensive and potentially dangerous safari in the far flung reaches of Kenya or Zambia when you can see the many wonders of the animal kingdom in an everyday assessment centre?

The desire to perform well in this environment can have polarised affects on people. In many cases, the pressure can paralyse a candidate with nerves or, conversely, the desire to appear to be the very best can overwhelm rational communication skills. People seem to revert to very instinctive, almost animalistic behaviour in these intense situations and there are a couple of types that I have observed on my own trek through the plains that are the assessment centre that I wanted to share with you:

  • The loud and forthright lion, they make the most noise (possibly not the best points) and they lead the group to their way of thinking.
  • The quiet and timid antelope, they start to make a point quietly and back down when louder animals interrupt or disagree.
  • The steady giraffe, they keep their head above the politics of the herd and when they hear a good idea they prick up their ears and develop it with the group.
  • The hysterical hyena, with its tail held up and forward over its back, can be extremely excited and laugh continuously. In contrast, if frightened, the hyena tucks its tail between its legs and flat against the belly and skulks away from group discussion.
  • The focused buffalo, navigates around the lions and takes the group back to the watering hole of the main point.
  • The vulture, scavenging on others’ points, hear observations made by others in the group, swoop in and make the same point in a slightly different way to claim it as their own.

So, like Attenborough navigating his way around the plains and observing the big 5 (in this case 6), I pose the question, which animal am I most excited to see on an assessment safari?

Initially the lion, with its larger than life presence and loud roar of opinions can be very impressive and distracting but it depends on the job that you are recruiting for and the animals that you already have in your team (I couldn’t cope with a team of 8 lions).

Perhaps due to my own predisposition I, myself, love a giraffe, with their large ears to hear others’ opinions, big eyes to notice what is going on in the team and long neck to lift the team’s ideas up to the next level; they support the development of a group and enable others to flourish.

All of the animals can add something to a team (some more positives than others) and it depends what you will need from your new employee as to which animals you find most appealing. What other animal types have you noticed in an assessment centre? I don’t even want to think about the rhino, bulldozing over everyone else.

Whereas an interview can be like viewing an animal in a zoo, the assessment centre enables Attenborough to view the candidates in the wild, in their natural habitat, uninhibited by a cage of format, structure and ‘STAR’ formatted responses.

Laura is a graduate from the University of London and has worked in Recruitment & HR since 2010. She is currently working as a Recruitment Advisor for Macmillan Cancer Support and runs the job share blog: https://thejobshare.wordpress.com/