A guide to organising an effective assessment day

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A guide to organising an effective assessment day

Assessment days are an increasingly popular and effective tactic used to recruit call centre talent – but only if you get them right. So, to help you get the most out of your next (or first!) one, we’ve pulled together a list of back-to-basics top tips.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

First impressions count, and this works both ways. Yes, you’re the one doing the hiring, but you can’t hire someone who’s not bought into your business.

Don’t leave any stone unturned or shy away from areas that might seem trivial, and think about things like:

  • Refreshments: if it’s a long day, you might want to supply some.
  • Access: if any candidates have a disability, will they need any extra provisions?
  • Chairs, tables, pens, and paper: it looks rooky all round if you don’t have enough set-up for when everyone arrives.
  • Numbers: will any of your plans fall through if people don’t turn up?
  • Awareness: make sure everyone in the business knows the assessment day’s going ahead, and ask them not to gawk in as they walk past!

Tailor your tasks

The assessment day is your opportunity to see how candidates handle day-to-day situations their role would present, so make sure you incorporate these environments into your activities.

This will inevitably vary from business-to-business, but some commonly used tasks include:

  • Data input activities – after all, speed and accuracy are
  • Mathematical tests (if this is a skill that’s needed for the job).
  • Over-the-phone role play – give them information, allow them time to digest it, and then re-enact common conversations and questions, and see how candidates deal with them.
  • Listening – again, do this one over the phone, but this time mark them on their ability to retain and record information they’ve been given.
  • Sales pitches – using your own service or something completely different, test their sales skills to see if they’re as good as they claim to be!

If it’s your first assessment day or first time trying out a new activity, it might be a good idea to do a practise run ahead of the day. This will help to iron out any potential glitches – before it’s time to impress.

Make sure the right people are in the room

The successful candidates will be reporting into your team leaders, so it only makes sense to get them invested from the off, involve them in the recruitment process, and give them some ownership during the decision making process. After all, they’re the ones that’ll be working with them day in, day out.

Having said that though, it’s important you don’t just chuck your TLs in at the deep end. If they’re not already trained up, educate them around assessing and interviewing, and ensure a) they’re confident in the skills and attributes they need to look out for, and b) you’re confident they’ll represent the role and business well.

Think outside of the role

Of course, the most important aspect is – and always will be – candidates’ ability to carry out the role – successfully. But their cultural fit within your company is equally important.

If they ace the job but don’t get on with their colleagues and start ruffling feathers, odds are, they won’t last long anyway, and then you’re back to square one. So, to save yourself time and money in the long run, make sure the individual(s) you’re thinking of offering to match your business’ values too.

This is another element that’ll vary from business-to-business, but some mannerisms to look out for might include:

  • How well they interact with everyone
  • Their hobbies outside of the work environment
  • Their work ethic and enthusiasm
  • General manners – like their P’s and Q’s.

To help you with this, you could intersperse some team building tasks in between the activities designed to test candidates’ on-the-job skills

Nail the interview

To save hauling everyone in twice, it’s a good idea to box off the one-to-one interviews on the assessment day too.

You know what questions work best for your business, but some examples of ones that’ll pull out useful information include:

  • What does good customer service look like to you?
  • Can you talk us through a time you dealt with a difficult customer, and how you handled the situation?
  • Can you give us an example of a time that you turned around a sales pitch that looked doomed to fail?
  • Can you talk us through how you think your previous roles will help you with this one?
  • What’s the best team project you’ve worked on? And what was so successful about it?

During the interview, make sure you give candidates plenty of opportunities to ask their own questions too, so that you both come away with all the information you need.

Make memorable notes

The last but by no means least area we’ll take a look at is note-taking.

There’s a lot to keep up with during an assessment day, and with a bunch of people and traits to look out for, it can be easy to forget things – which is why taking notes throughout is so important.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of them:

  • Make sure they’re consistent and fair across all candidates by marking everyone against the same criteria.
  • You don’t want to be scribbling the whole time – you’ll miss out on how everyone’s interacting, so set-up a process whereby little writing is needed – a simple checklist or 1 - 10 grading system, for example.
  • Make sure your notes are legible – they’re essentially redundant if you can’t understand them an hour later!

Your notes will also come in handy for post-assessment day feedback too. They’ll give you a reference point of which areas candidates shone in on the day, and which ones they have room for improvement in.

Keep it fair, factual and friendly

So, there are our six top tips for organising an effective assessment day. And remember, the three F’s should be at the forefront of your mind throughout:

Fair: all candidates must be given equal and ample opportunity to shine.

Factual: don’t make false promises or bold claims you can’t keep, and make sure the vision you’re selling mirrors your actual strategy.

Friendly: because let’s be honest, no-one wants to work in a call centre that has the atmosphere of a damp squib, do they?

If you need help filling your call centre with stand-out candidates, we’ve got you covered. For more information on how we can start supporting your recruitment right now, get in touch with the team today on 01905 330 790 or GreatPeople@cactussearch.co.uk.