Handling Social Etiquette at Graduate Assessment Centres
With the slow easing of social distancing measures, we’re seeing some parts of the interview process returning to their physical formats, such as conducting assessment centres. More often than not, the trickiest part of assessment centres isn’t excelling in the exercises –it’s the composure that you must maintain throughout the entire day, especially when you approach recruiters during their social intervals, such as the buffet lunch or tea, and perhaps coffee breaks.
Many graduate applicants have little experience socialising in a professional context, and this can be a source of stress. It’s easy to doubt your every move with questions like, “How do I interact with recruiters and other candidates?”, “Is it polite to eat first and talk later, or just eat and talk at the same time?” or even “How does taking second, third or fourth helpings reflect on me?” popping up on your mind time and again.
The experience doesn’t have to be a painful one if you know what to do. Here are some tips on how to conduct yourself during social breaks in an assessment centre!
Introduce yourself with confidence
When you’re looking to start a conversation with a recruiter over your break, be pleasant in the way you approach them: A handshake with a polite smile is the standard introduction practice. Keep your grip steady and your handshake firm.
Eye contact and body posture are very important in conveying confidence too, so never slouch or let your gaze drift. If you’re still nervous, prepare some questions in advance so that you’ve a reason to approach someone.
Questions to ask recruiters during social breaks
Never approach recruiters during social breaks with personal questions. Instead, ask industry-related questions to demonstrate your sincerity and determination to learn. You may also encounter staff from a range of other departments at the assessment centre, so prepare a good mix of general and industry-specific questions to make it easier for you to approach them.
Don’t forget about the other candidates and event organisers too! Mingle with them, but phrase your questions positively.
Fake it till you make it
As a fresh graduate stepping out into the working world, you’ll commonly find yourself in a lot of unfamiliar situations. Getting nervous is perfectly fine and normal, but it’s also possible to fake your confidence until you actually develop it.
Socialising while eating
Mingling during lunch is usually a pretty straightforward affair, especially if seating arrangements are provided, so there’s little confusion about how you should act during those events. But what if you have to stand and eat? Here are some dos and don’ts!