Assessment Centres and Initial Thoughts

 

Candidates won’t know the task for assessment centres and interview questions until on the day.

Now, there are laws in place in many countries like the UK’s Equality Act 2010 that allow for reasonable adjustments to be made for disabled candidates, but this is still an accessibility issue as it means that a disabled person has to “out” themselves to employers that they have a disability. This puts them at risk of being negatively discriminated against and eliminated from the candidacy, and as it’s hard to prove this disclosure can be more a risk than a benefit. It would be better if the tasks and interview questions were all issued to candidates in advance. This moves on to the next point.

Hypothetical tasks are common

I was given two practice tasks as part of the workshop to do in groups with the people I was sitting with. The first task was:

You are a manager of a car dealership. A customer comes in because they are upset at the car you rented out to them got a flat tyre when they were using it and could not get to their meeting. What will you do?

The second task was:

Your group are crash survivors of an aircraft that came down in the desert in India. It is burning and your group have 15 minutes to decide what resources to get out of the plane before it burns. There are 15 possible choices.

I found both tasks impossible to work out how to answer because I have not personally been in these situations or anything similar. Therefore, I ended up having little to say and thus had that been a real assessment I would have failed.

For instance, everyone who spoke about the car dealership said the things they would do include – apologising to the customer, offering them some kind of financial compensation and agreeing to a full investigation. Yet none of this came to me at all. The only response I had was that I would simply imitate what my hypothetical manager would do or say because in an actual car dealership I would be a subordinate to a manager so I could learn from them before I become the manager.

Of course, such thinking would likely not be considered acceptable in an assessment centre.

There is no right or wrong answer…or is there?

This relates to the second hypothetical task. I had no idea what order to put them in aside from the most important item as far as I was concerned – water. Yet when the results were read out, everyone had different answers to what they were considered important.

Although I was told there is no right or wrong answer in this context, this isn’t true across the whole process. Application forms that are often applied earlier in the process, especially the aptitude tests, have right answers that negatively discriminate against neurodiverse applicants. Those right answers are what employers are looking for and those that don’t answer correctly get excluded. Examples like the desert crash scenario are real world embodiments of those questions and if somehow an autistic person is able to pass the questionnaires (I hope it is possible to learn the answers for the aptitude tests) they risk being tripped up in the assessment centre.

Employer reviews on sites like Glassdoor should be taken with a pinch of salt.

This is something I am very concerned to have been told. The reason why is because employer reviews by former workers are a great way to work out the culture of a company. It is also a platform where marginalised employees can let the world now that this employer has a company culture that is not good for people like them. In particular women, trans people and disabled people are major groups where those employees will struggle to ever get justice for mistreatment without jeopardising their careers. Saying that these reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt because due to (paraphrased) “the negative reviews are often written by former employees who are angry” is very concerning as it implies that these concerns are nothing to worry about, hence erases their importance.

Look at it likes a sales pitch.

What is a “sales pitch” exactly? I don’t really know how to answer this confidently as this is something that still confuses me. However, the only thing I can think of is that essentially means “sell yourself,” so in other words, treat yourself like a product. Employers want to see what you can offer them which means you need to communicate this in a certain way. There are other people they could higher as ordinary workers in a capitalist system are disposable, so what makes you different? Be confident. Press their button. Even lie to them if you could get away it (not advised, but many NT jobseekers actually do this). I don’t know how else to describe this as this is something I haven’t been able to work out.

What wasn’t mentioned…it is possible for disabled people to request reasonable adjustments under UK law.

I was genuinely shocked to find this out days later after I had spoken to somebody else. I had took two hours out of my life to attend a workshop that didn’t even mention how disabled people could request alternative forms of assessment. That, to me, suggests that a widespread attitude against hiring disabled workers still exists in some organisations. It also suggests that disabled jobseekers should be very careful on whether they attend employability sessions that are not aimed at a disabled audience. Also, I don’t know what those alternative forms of assessments are that I could reasonably request. This is something that I am trying to find out more on.

That’s all I have to say about this subject for the time being as there is still a lot of information that awaits my discovery. If I can gather more information I will make sequel to this post. Either way, I hope this post is useful for other neurodiverse jobseekers as much of the knowledge talked about here was passed on from the person hosting the session.

Kind regards,

Milla x 

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