Career preparation

Self-knowledge is the first step on the path to your career. You need to know yourself well in order to judge whether you are suited to a particular job, and to be able to ‘sell’ yourself to a future employer. A thorough self-analysis will help you to focus your search for suitable organizations, apply for jobs more effectively and set yourself apart from other applicants.

So, before you start applying for jobs, it’s important to analyse who you are, what you want to do and where your talents lie. The results of this analysis will be your ‘brand values’. This is why we also refer to the process as ‘personal branding’. There are various ways to assess your personal competences and determine where your interests lie.

Who am I?

To answer this question, you need to think about what has made you what you are. This includes things that have happened to you, activities you’ve undertaken and important decisions you’ve made.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What gives me a boost?
  • Why did I choose this degree programme?
  • Why did I choose certain part-time jobs or extracurricular activities?
  • What are my passions and interests?

What am I capable of?

You discover competences by looking at your past. Ask the people around you about your positive and negative traits. Once you have an overview of these, you will have an impression of your qualities and capabilities.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What have I learned from my part-time jobs, placements, committee work, volunteer work, etc.?
  • Which skills did I acquire?
  • What results have I achieved?
  • What am I good at?

What do I want to do?

One of the most difficult aspects of personal branding is to work out what you want in life. Think about your wishes in terms of work, the reputation you want to build as a professional, and what your passions are.

  • Make a list of jobs that enthuse you.
  • Find out which tasks and responsibilities they involve.
  • Make a list of work or activities that really interest you.
  • Look at the company culture. How important is hierarchy to you?
  • Think about the type of work environment you would prefer. A small company or a large one?

Once you have worked out all these things, it will be easier to go out into the market as a job seeker and you’ll be able to explain more clearly to employers why you’re suitable for the position you’re applying for.

Usually, an inhouse assessment will take one day and contains the following elements:

  • Real life simulations (roleplay)

To test your communication competences, your potential employer may include a role play of a real-life working situation within the company. This could involve giving a presentation, conducting a sales conversation with a ‘customer’, or taking part in a group discussion at a corporate meeting.

Also, the ‘in-basket test’  is frequently applied. In this test, you will receive a pile of mails, letters, phone calls, memo’s, etc. You will get 60-90 minutes to analyse, arrange, prioritise and process them by taking the appropriate steps. Obviously, not all ‘post’ is equally important. Your potential employer is testing your ability to prioritise,  show flexibility, take personal responsibility, delegate tasks and perform in stressful situations.

  • Intelligence Test (IQ Test)

IQ tests form a fixed component of an inhouse assessment . IQ tests exist in many different forms. The information you will need to process can be offered in either numerically , textually or via images. IQ tests are used to test your intelligence level and your ability to apply logical reasoning.

  • Interview

An assessment will include a personal interview, usually conducted by a psychologist. The content of this interview is similar to the earlier application interviews, but is likely to be more in-depth.

  • Personality Test

Someone’s character will influence their professional behaviour to a large extend. Therefore, your potential employer is likely to include a personality test in the assessment procedure. You will have to indicate to what extend certain statements comply with your personality. There are no right or wrong answers to this test, it is to your own advantage to be as honest as possible. 

Companies and organizations sometimes use assessments when they are recruiting staff. They do this to find out about the applicants’ competences and qualities.

An assessment consists of several parts. Examples:

  • aptitude test
  • personality test
  • practical test
  • psychological assessment

Preparation

Assessments are not a test that you can study or revise for. There are no set questions for them. But you can prepare for the types of question that are often asked!

  • Try some of the tests at home, to give yourself an idea of what to expect.
  • Find out what the procedure is, what is expected of you, and which assessments you will be given.
  • You can practice an aptitude test beforehand. This is a test that measures your intelligence. If you practice, you won’t be taken by surprise by questions that are presented in an unfamiliar way in the test. You will also find out how long it takes you to complete the various tests.
  • Be yourself during an assessment. The aim of the assessment is to see what sort of person you are and what you are capable of. There is no such thing as a wrong answer in an assessment.

Although the duration of an assessment can vary between several hours to multiple days, most (inhouse) assessments take one day. Most companies will outsource this procedure to a professional assessment company. Some companies may employ qualified psychologists themselves to conduct the assessments. The assessor will process the outcome of your assessment in a report, which you will usually receive within one week. According to the Psychologists Code of Conduct in the Netherlands, applications have the right to to receive feedback on the assessment.

The following tips can be helpful:

  • The obvious (though essential): make sure you are well-rested and properly dressed.
  • Prepare yourself. Although you want to come across as authentic and natural during your assessment day, there are no reasons to come unprepared. Practice intelligence tests, prepare for the interview and simulations, talk with family and friends about your strengths and weaknesses, read a book or talk to someone who has experienced an assessment in the past.
  • Do not try to make yourself look better, smarter, or in some way different than who you are. The assessors are trained to see through this. Be your ‘smart’ self, show what you are truly good at and stay professional.
  • Remain calm and do not panic, also when a certain section of the assessment did not go well.
  • Do not take on a passive, ‘wait and see’ attitude or show too little of your competences and personality. Show that you are assertive and that you are able to take initiative.

 Total duration: A application process of the above kind usually takes approximately 8 – 10 weeks.

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Check out the career page for an overview of recent vacancies for internships, traineeships and jobs!