Survival Guide: Assessment Centres


It’s that assessment time of year again. How can you maximise your chances and ace the
competition at the Assessment Centre stage of the selection process?

First of all, congratulate yourself: you are one of the chosen few. Your invitation to be assessed means you have beaten at least 90% of the original applicants. That’s the feel good factor. The downside is that this is where the going gets even tougher. Here are four essentials for surviving and thriving during the process…

1. You’re liable to be in a group of approx. 6- 8 likely lads and lasses, all of whom will look calm and confident. Don’t be daunted – they will be quaking inside. Remember that the assessors are not evaluating you against the other candidates but as an individual contender. Don’t measure yourself against the other people in your set, just focus on playing to your strengths. Apropos of which, be very sure what those are, so that you can maximise your impact.

2. In a group situation, speak up and make your presence felt in an assertive, not an aggressive, way. Failure to do so is like going to an exam and not writing anything and will lead to nil points from the assessors. How do you get in to the activity especially if one (or more) people are trying to dominate the proceedings? (Btw console yourself with the fact that those overbearing oafs have just scuppered their own chances – assessors heavily penalise such behaviour.) Stake your claim to a role quickly by offering to keep time, take notes or monitor progress as soon as the activity starts. This gives you the chance to leap in appropriate intervals to summarise, review and move the action forward. You’ll also get brownie points for encouraging and involving the quieter group members.

Top tip: sneak a peek here to find out what role you might play in a team.

3. There’ll be individual exercises too, often including a presentation. Key advice? Keep it simple and don’t try to cram everything in. Not only will your audience appreciate both your brevity and clarity, but if you are asked questions after the event, you won’t have exhausted your store of knowledge and hence will be able to answer your interrogators with aplomb.

Top tip: if you get a chance practise your presentation beforehand, ideally recording
yourself. That way you’ll get the timing right to the nearest nanosecond, and you’ll also be able to iron out any weak links in your speech, tone and pace.

4. Terrified of tests? You may get these at assessment centres too and they could comprise any or all of the following – e-tray exercises, case studies, situational judgement questions, psychometric tests. If you’re new to these notions, get in some practice. We can send you some examples – just send us a message on! It may not make you perfect, but it will send your scores up a notch or two. You can find a massive range of useful resources on the Careers Pages on MySOAS Student too.

Being prepared means preparing to succeed. Good luck.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant


Interviews For the Uninitiated


Got an interview? Well done! But the hard work isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. Let’s
take it step by step…

What’s the set up?

Employers can take their pick from the traditional face to face scenario a phone or Skype call, a video question and answer session. If all interviews are somewhat disconcerting, the video version is reckoned by many students to be the most unsettling of all. It involves no human contact whatsoever, just a series of questions which have to be prepared and answered in a set time frame. However unnerving it might be for candidates, the video process is quicker and slicker for employers to deal with, so it’s here to stay.

What will you be asked?

Whatever the type of interview it, questions fall into a few discrete groups. You want those categories? They are…

  • Motivational: your reasons for applying
  • Biographical: your academic and personal experience
  • Skills and strengths: what is unique about you?
  • Competency: do you meet the criteria necessary to be successful?

So, broadly speaking you will be asked why you want to do that job with that organisation, what benefits (skills, experience) you can bring, whether you are a fit for their brand, values, working culture and how much they will have to invest in you. Not that they’ll put it quite like that of course, but they are really probing how committed and knowledgeable you are, and hence how much it will cost to train you. Your job is to reassure them on all counts.

How do you prepare?

From your perspective, it may be better not to dwell so much on which questions will be posed but rather on what you want to tell them. In other words, after dealing with each initial question as it comes (“I want to work here because…”) promote your suitability for the post in the follow through. (“I can offer the company x, y, z”). But all your answers must be backed up with detailed evidence. So have up your capacious sleeve an example that verifies what you are saying otherwise it becomes a meaningless assertion. In other words, rather than just stating that you have worked in numerous different teams, give them chapter and verse on a time when you have (successfully) participated in a team activity.

Above all, know your skills and strengths inside out, back to front and upside down!

Anything else?

Plenty, but it can be summed up by “Do your homework”. Arm yourself with information and deploy it strategically.

Go beyond the organisation’s website – look at news articles, company reports, their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Be ready to make objective and original comments on these, if required.

More than this, know their competitors. What are they up to? What can “your” firm do to
complement or trump their activities? Understand the sector in which they operate. What’s happening there? How do current political and social issues impact on this?

Above all, show what you know!

Good luck and remember that if you have a interview secured to make use of SOAS Careers’ Practice Interview service, where a careers consultant will prepare questions specific to the sector, employer and job you have applied for so that you are prepared for the real thing. Just email to get booked in.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

5 Ways to Make Sure You Smash it Every Day!


Ever had one of those days when everything just goes your way? Imagine having that awesome feeling every single day…

This really is within your grasp: this really insightful article takes a look at 5 habits you can take on to make sure that you’ll end every day feeling incredible!


1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

2. Reduce Context Switching

3. Create “If/When-Then” Plans

4. Exercise—Even if Only for a Few Minutes

5. Have a Shutdown Ritual

Alexis Fromageot


Something for the Weekend: Are your social media posts costing you that dream job?


Photo Credit: 

Social media got you glued to your phone? There may be more to those selfies you’re uploading, those comments you’re liking and that latest article you re-tweeted…

More than ever, employers are now taking a vested interested in social media posts when analysing how suitable you are for a job.

Head here for more details.

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Officer


Insight from Your Fellow Student: Mastering Your Career

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Zipporah Gene,MSc Development Studies (graduating 2017) shares a candid account of how she landed her new role as a charity account manager.
We’ve all been there. The deadlines, the assignments, the minefield that is university life.
How in God’s name are we expected to pass exams, study course materials, and plot our future careers?
Unlike my undergraduate years, studying for a full time MA has really amped up the pressure. Three years of naive bliss and procrastination, has given way to a mindless panic-stricken year long dash to the finish line. I’ve woken up in sweats at night wondering what on earth I’ll be doing a year from now. The pressure can be crippling.
Because let’s face it, if you’re studying for your MA, chances are you want more. You’re not satisfied with minimum wage, or a job that may or may not provide career progression. You want it all. It’s that kind of mindset that ultimately means you’ve set everything up with the belief that you only have one year to get everything right.
I won’t even begin to pretend that I’ve got the whole work-life balance schtick in order, but I’ve definitely been given a helping hand, courtesy of the SOAS Careers Team.
Frustrated that I wasn’t getting replies from employers, I booked myself into a CV workshop.
Thank God I did.
After months of self-doubt, anxiety and self-flagellation, I had a eureka moment – the CV that I was sending out needed a lot of work.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision, when your Saturday nights are stuck up in the oxygen deprived heights of Floor A, surviving on a diet of gluten-free energy bars and vegan wraps, so I’ve forgiven myself and chalked it all up to experience. But in hindsight, it is comical how much I tortured myself, when all I should have done was ask for help.
My initial interview was booked on the day (be sure to book early in the morning) but I also popped back in numerous times to get feedback on my CV. After several re-writes, a lot hand-holding and talks on streamlining my job hunting strategy, I’m proud to say that I have a job. Scratch that. I have a career.
SOAS careers has helped me land an internship, which led to a job, which is now the role I can foresee doing for may years to come. No matter how qualified you are of how proficient in your field you think you are, we all need allies and I’m glad I found mine.
They’re a thankless bunch down in SL57 but they know what they’re talking about. So talk to them.
Seeing as how it’s Master’s week, I say, ‘become the master of your career’.
Be sure to follow SOAS Careers on Twitter and Facebook, so you don’t miss out on any internships, vacancies and all things careers related.
Zipporah Gene
Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert

International Women’s Day Celebration Event TODAY


Celebrate International Women’s Day with a whole host of events across SOAS University of London and University of London!

Come and hear from inspiring women talking about their workplace successes TODAY at 1pm City, University of London.

This FREE event is taking place at Northampton Suite, City, University of London, Northampton Square campus, EC1V 0HB

To mark International Women’s Day, inspiring women from different industries will be coming together to discuss what success looks like, both in the workplace and wider life. The panel will be discussing and offering insight on the following:

  • What does success look like for different women?
  • How do leading women in industry achieve work-life balance?
  • What can organisations do to better support women and their progression.
  • Practical tips to tackle key issues such as salary negotiation.

The panel includes women in senior roles from across a range of industries. After a period of panel discussion there will be opportunities to talk to our panellists directly during a Q&A and then following up with some nibbles and networking.

  • Sara Fox, Principal, Fox&Co. Consulting
  • Chloe Challender, Deputy Director of Security, House of Parliament and former co-Chair of Workplace Equality Network, Parliagender
  • Sharon Northey, Securities Associate Manager, Accenture
  • Kate White, CEO, National Centre for Circus Arts
  • Emma Thomas, Head of Employment Law, Essex County Council
  • MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto, Associate, Allen & Overy 
  • Jackie Wilgar, Senior Vice President, Marketing – International, LiveNation

This event is FREE!

Students and staff can sign up to join, by emailing

Alexis Fromageot


Graduated? Fancy interning with SOAS Careers?


SOAS Careers is looking for a recent SOAS graduate to act as a graduate intern for the rest of the academic year (till the end of July).

Your role would be to work with the Events and Internships team to support activity in sourcing interesting employers to come onto campus or for our students do do internships  – for more information, take a look at the Job Description.

If you are interested, please complete this Google form and send us a copy of your CV to by midday on Monday 13 February.

Interviews will be held on Thursday 16 February.  

We look forward to hearing from you!

Alexis Fromageot


Want to earn £50pm vlogging while you look for a job?

‘The Great Grad Job Hunt’ is a project created by The Careers Group, University of London, that follows the process of job-hunting for final year students, Master’s students and 2016 graduates.

Through the use of videos, the project documents real life experiences and peer-to-peer examples of searching for a job. As well as including expert advice; job hunters from around the world can access information – tips and tricks from fellow students, graduates, consultants and employers that will help them score their dream career.

The project is looking for enthusiastic people who will be committed to documenting their job-hunting process on video through the following months. With help from our dedicated team, students and graduates will help each other and use expert advice to help them find a job best suited to their needs.

This is a great opportunity for those who wish to help others and contribute their own experiences for students/graduates who are in a similar position. Students and graduates taking part will receive:
          Life skills useful to any career role 
–          £50 a month for submitting at least 2 vlogs a month
–          Extra support from The Careers Group and Careers Consultants

Don’t worry if you haven’t decided what you want to do yet. We want to document this process also and we will help you with your decision making.

Please note that applications for this round close at 11:59pm on 6th February 2017. APPLY NOW!

Email if you have any further questions.

Alexis Fromageot


Something for the Weekend: Languages Week

Has been awesome to have seen so many of you get involved with Languages Week!

Enjoy your Friday afternoon with this great insight into an interview…


Got your own interview lined up? We can support you with your own Practice Interview session – where you’ll spend an hour with a Careers Consultants going through strategies to make sure you present yourself in the best possible light to an employer. Get booked in by emailing or coming by SL57.

Enjoy the weekend, and see you next week for International Development Week!

Alexis Fromageot


Thinking about getting started with your next steps?


As we begin to settle in to 2017, now’s as good a time as any to start thinking about how to go about planning your next steps. Whether you’ve got a fully set goal in mind or are still completely open as to what the future holds, the following question and answers are designed to support you as you look to your life beyond SOAS!

I’ve not even started thinking about what I want to do next – can you still help?

Not to worry – we can definitely still help! In fact, this is often when we can best support you. Take a look at our wealth of online resources on MySOAS Student to help get the ball rolling.  The Explore your Future section is a great starting point to get you inspired. Our Careers Consultants can work with you at whatever stage you are in terms of thinking about your future plans and, and you can just call in to the Careers Service in SL57 to take a look at all the books and resources available for you.

Haven’t I missed most of the deadlines by now?

While some of this year’s recruitment deadlines have passed, there are plenty more round the corner. Many graduate recruiters will continue to recruit throughout the year, and often small to mid-sized organisations will only advertise jobs later in the year, as and when roles become available. Take a look at the Career Planning section on MySOAS Student to get a better idea about the time frames for recruitment – from internships and placements through to graduate schemes.

How many applications should I make?

This is completely down to you, though we’d suggest that you do your research and focus your efforts on a limited number of employers rather than spreading your efforts too thinly. Have a read through our advice on how to make standout applications and pop by the Careers Service to get your applications reviewed. We can help you to recognise the most effective approach for you.

How do I book an appointment?

We offer 15 minute Short Guidance appointments every afternoon, Mon-Fri, for any questions you may have about careers, further education, work experience, volunteering etc. We can also take a look over your CV, and would recommend you check our CV checklist on our website first. We have many more materials in the Service about CVs, cover letters and applications.

You can sign up for an appointment on the day only, by either calling us on 020 7898 4115 or coming in person to SL57, Lower Ground Floor, Paul Webeley Wing after we open. These slots are really popular, so we’d suggest signing up as early as you can on your chosen day.

We also have Masters Mondays appointments on a Monday between 12-1pm, and Internship Guidance appointments on a Wednesday between 2-4pm; again these are both bookable on the day.

If you are finding it difficult to book an appointment for any reason, just get in touch and we’ll do our best to make sure you get to talk to someone as soon as possible. Read more about the different types of services we offer.

What’s the quickest way for me to get some help?

Never used the Careers Service before or just not quite sure how it can all fit together to help you? We’re open from 10-5pm Monday to Thursday, 11-4pm on a Friday. A member of the Careers team is more than happy to have an initial informal chat with you, and we’re always available to suggest any key resources that could help you. You can also check out the information we have on hand for you on MySOAS Student.

I just want to focus on finishing my degree for now – can I still come by for help when I graduate?

Yes – you can continue to use our services for as long as you need to once you graduate! We’ll be at your graduation ceremony to give you the most up to date information about how to join our alumni network GradClub, which will allow you to continue booking appointments and getting access to all our resources.

Where are you based? 

We are in the Paul Webeley Wing – on the lower ground floor next to the Weston Student Hub, in room SL57.

Alexis Fromageot