Leading the British government‟s fight against world poverty DFID ASSESSMENT CENTRES : INFORMATION FOR CANDIDATES 1. BACKGROUND You have been selected to participate in an assessment centre on the basis of the qualifications, skills and competencies that you have indicated on your application form. The purpose of this information is to set out what you can expect to encounter at the assessment centre. All DFID roles are important in achieving the goal of poverty reduction. It is therefore critical to get people with the right mix of competency, skills, attitude and motivation. For this reason, DFID uses assessment centres to ensure, firstly, that a comprehensive assessment of any job related skills are gained, and secondly, that we gather information in a manner that is fair to you and supports the DFID diversity agenda. At the assessment centre we shall be assessing your technical capability against any criteria which were specified in the job advert; or in the more comprehensive job details which were available on our website, or subsequently forwarded to you with the application form. We will also be using DFID‟s generic competency framework to assess your personal qualities, skills and behaviours against the general standards that we have set out for all our staff. (Descriptions of the personal competencies w e expect from our staff are detailed at Appendix A of this document) 2. ASSESSMENT CENTRES Assessment Centres are extended selection procedures incorporating interview, job relevant activities, and often measures of management style and critical thinking skills. They aim to provide a full and fair assessment of capabilities. DFID has been using assessment centres since the early 1990‟s, and their use has extended in recent years to cover both Professional and General Administrative/ Executive appointments at various levels in the organisation. Many large size public and private-sector organisations in the UK use Assessment Centre procedures to ensure that they appoint the right people into key positions. Key features of DFID‟s Assessment Centres are; multiple opportunities to demonstrate skills, job related activities as well as interview, a number of assessors, a mix of behavioural and self report exercises. Decisions are made upon all the information gained, and all decisions are based on job related criteria. Updated January 2007 Switchboard +44 (0) 1355 844000 Fax +44 (0) 1355 844099 www.dfid.gov.uk Typically a DFID assessment centre will be comprised of anywhere between 3 or more of the following components: Technical Interview Generic Competency Based Interview Technical Written exercise Group discussion Presentation (to technical interview board) Management Scenarios exercise – this may be completed on line in advance. Psychometric tests – these may be completed on line in advance More comprehensive details of each of these components are included at Appendix B 3. HOW TO PREPARE To give your best it will be useful to consider the following in advance of attending the assessment centre: Look at the job description and think about how your specific skills and competencies match the job requirements. Review your application, your achievements and the skills you have developed. Try and identify examples of where you have demonstrated the capabilities needed for this DFID job. Think about your work „style’, for example in working with others, in managing projects, and in coping with difficult situations. Be ready to talk about your strengths and development areas. Each of the job related exercises such as group exercise, written exercise, etc will be preceded by instructions and an opportunity to check understanding of what you have to do. You may care to think about how you would tackle a task with limited preparation time. On the day, ensure you listen to, or read the instructions thoroughly. 4. ON THE DAY There will be a formal introduction to explain what will happen. Typically there will be a group of 4 participants. Participants will be given an individual timetable. There will be a number of DFID staff around - typically between four and six, including a facilitator to help the day run smoothly. To help your performance on the day: Arrive on time so that you can settle yourself. Listen carefully to the instructions given before each exercise, and note the time allowed. Ask the facilitator or board chair if you have any questions about specific exercises or the assessment centre as a whole. Be yourself - to have got this far, you are identified as having the qualifications, competencies and skills to do the job. This process simply helps us find out more about you. Remember that rarely will someone do equally well on all parts of the process. You will complete a range of different exercises, and there will be several opportunities to show your strengths. It is performance over the whole day‟s activities that we are interested in. Participant feedback indicates that generally people find the day demanding, but a fair opportunity to show their capabilities. Some people actually enjoy the process! We look forward to seeing you on the day. Please call if you have any queries before then. Finally – We want all candidates to have the opportunity to demonstrate their job-related skills and competencies. If you have any special requirements, concerns, language issues, medical conditions or disabilities that could potentially impact on your performance on the day, please tell us in advance so that we can do everything possible to accommodate your requirements. APPENDIX A In DFID we value: Our Our Our Our Our ambition and determination to eliminate poverty ability to work effectively with others desire to listen, learn and be creative staff, their diversity and their need to balance work and private life professionalism and knowledge Supporting these values we expect our staff to have the following competencies: KEY CORE COMPETENCIES Planning And Delivery Of Work Plans and organises work to meet individual, team and departmental objectives whilst achieving quality and value for money. Analysis And Use Of Information Assesses and interprets information in order to identify issues or problems. Decision Making Considers the information that is available, identifies options and makes timely decisions. Working With Others Takes responsibility to build and maintain positive relationships and value the opinion of others. Communicating with others Vary the way you communicate ideas and information ensuring your message is understood. Influencing Positively influences others, creating acceptance and support for ideas Organisation Awareness Understands how your job contributes and delivers DFID goals in accordance with DFID values. Managing change Supports opportunities for positive change and actively looks for ways to improve what you do. Continual Improvement Continually looks to improve your skills, knowledge and the way you work. APPENDIX B You will be asked to complete some of the following assessment exercises and interviews (generally 3 or more) - your invitation letter may tell you precisely which ones. Technical Board Interview. This will be a traditional 30-45 minute interview, usually with a board of 2 or more members. They will explore your professional expertise (if applying for a post in a specific discipline), your career to date and interest in the advertised job. There will be an opportunity to ask any outstanding questions you have on the job. Presentation Exercise. Here you may be asked to prepare and deliver a short presentation on a given topic. The topic will usually be given to you on the day and you will be given preparation time. You may be asked to prepare the presentation in advance of the centre for certain posts. The length of the presentation can vary but is normally set at 5 minutes with 30 minutes preparation time. The presentation will usually precede the technical board interview. Candidates are asked to make their presentation to the Board members who may ask you questions at the end. Normally only flipchart paper is provided to assist with making your presentation. Technical Written Exercise. Here you are provided with a background briefing on the type of technical problem you might encounter in the job. You are typically given around an hour to write a report outlining your appreciation of the issues involved in the presented situation and your recommendations on how to deal with that situation. This exercise measures both your written communication skills and your technical skills. A laptop is normally provided to complete this exercise and pen and paper are also available. For certain posts you may be asked to complete the written exercise in advance of the centre. Generic Competency Based Interview (CBI). The CBI was designed to test personal competencies as DFID believe that personal competencies are equally important as technical competencies. The CBI will assess your people skills and management abilities. During the interview you will also be asked to give examples of when you demonstrated certain competencies. The CBI usually lasts between 3040 minutes and is conducted on a one-to-one basis with a trained HR Assessor. Please note: When assessing GCN candidates the CBI is referred to as a Management Interview. Group Exercise – Job Specific. This provides you with an opportunity to show how you work with others in a team-working situation, trying to solve a common problem. You are provided with brief background information on a situation related to the DFID job you have applied for. You will be given a short preparation period to think about the problem and then asked to discuss the issue with the other participants for between 40-50 minutes. There is no right or wrong answer to the problem. We are simply interested in how you communicate and work with a team, and how you deploy your problem solving skills. Assessors observe the exercise and take notes but do not participate. OR Group Exercise – Generic. Here you are provided with information on a problem that, collectively, the group has to solve. The problem is a general one and not DFID related. Each participant is given some background information to analyse, and then all participants work together to solve the problem. In this exercise we are interested in how you communicate and work in a team, and how you deploy your problem solving skills. Assessors observe the exercise and take notes but do not participate. Management Scenarios Exercise. Here you are provided with background information on a generic management problem, then asked to analyse it and provide a written response. The background information may consist of several pages, or it may be a short paragraph - depending on the particular management exercise used. You may be asked to complete this exercise on line in advance of the assessment centre day. If this is completed on line it takes around 50 minutes to c omplete but is not timed, so you don‟t have to worry about being penalised if you take longer because of internet connection problems. Instructions on the precise task and the format of the written response will either be provided on the assessment day; or when you are invited to attend the assessment if it is to be completed in advance. 16PF5 Personality Questionnaire. For certain posts you may be asked to complete a short personality questionnaire. DFID use the 16PF5 personality questionnaire as it can help determine a candidates suitability for a post. The questionnaire will cover areas about how you work with others, how you plan and organise work and how you approach the pressures and challenges of your work. The resulting personality profile will be discussed with you in a one-to-one discussion with an Occupational Psychologist. This will provide insights into your working style and you will be given a short written summary at the end of the discussion. Please note: If you are required to complete this questionnaire we will send you the leaflet “An Introduction to the 16PF5” which provides more information, before the assessment centre. You may be asked to complete this on line in advance.