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Candidate Guide

Selection processes are designed to fit the vacancy in question, and are influenced by practical realities such as the time available, and the likely size of the applicant pool. You may therefore encounter various selection methods in your job search. Walk with us as we describe them...

The Interview

This is usually the first opportunity for face-to-face contact with the organisation, or representatives acting on their behalf (such as Wickland Westcott). The initial interview will normally be wide-ranging, with questions designed to tap your competency, personality, knowledge and interests. It should be a two-way process, allowing you an opportunity to find out about the organisation. Be prepared to explain your achievements and aspirations. Some employers interview only once, whereas others use the first interview to identify candidates who meet their initial selection criteria. These candidates are then progressed to the subsequent stage of the recruitment process, typically a second interview, and possibly some of the other selection methods outlined below.


Psychometrics are standardised tools designed to measure various aspects of your mental faculties. Two broad types are used in recruitment; ability/aptitude tests and personality measures. The former have right and wrong answers - common ability tests measure numerical and verbal reasoning, although others are sometimes used (e.g. abstract reasoning, managerial judgement). Personality questionnaires are the second type of psychometric - they typically ask questions about the extent to which you like to plan ahead, how outgoing you are etc. These tools create a profile of your character and preferred work styles. Personality measures therefore assess habitual performance (how you typically do things) rather than optimum performance (how good you are at something).

Assessment centres

An assessment centre usually lasts for one day, although it can be longer or shorter. Sometimes they consist of a one-to-one session where the candidate is assessed by a Consultant (often an occupational psychologist). On other assessment centres you may join a group of candidates who go through the process together. The process typically consists of a range of the exercises and tests designed to assess those characteristics essential to job success. These may include case-studies, presentations, role-plays, written exercises and psychometrics. There will usually be an interview which may consist of competency-based questions (eg 'Tell me when you have led a team to achieve a challenging goal?') and the recruiter will be looking for examples that are significant, relevant and reasonably recent (eg the last couple of years). Assessment centres are intentionally challenging for candidates - they allow you to show your skills, and also provide you with further information about the role and the recruiting organisation.

General Advice to Candidates

Do your homework - learn what you can about the organisation and the role

  • Arrive on time
  • Try your best, but be yourself.
  • Organisations want to recruit good people, they spend a lot of money on it. They want you to do well.
  • View the selection process as a two-way street; take the opportunity to find out about the organisation. Get answers to any questions that you have.
  • If you're unsuccessful, especially after an assessment centre, ask for feedback. You will learn something valuable. If you get the job, ask for feedback anyhow. It shows you're keen to learn.