Are you aspiring to be a management associate? You’ve got an assessment center interview coming up and you’re trying to figure out how to ace it?

Fret not. Read on to get tips from Yuvan Mohan, who is now a Management Associate with Citibank Singapore.

In the concluding episode of Game of Thrones (GOT), Sansa Stark proclaims with ambivalence that winter is here. This heralded the start of a new season in GOT. Similarly, August will represent the start of applications for Management Associate Programs (MAP). Many will apply but only a handful will get a seat in a MAP.

Having gone through several rounds of interviews in the past year, I have decided to compile my experience and share it with you. I have structured my reflection according to a typical MAP interview process. Each section has a brief description followed by some tips to help you prepare for the interview. Do note, this is based on my personal experience and research, hence it may not cover the gamut of interview types.

#1 Cover Letter & CVs

I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in cover letters and CVs. I have watched in horror as some of my friends merely email their CVs without a cover letter. I understand that writing and submitting countless documents can be tough but never underestimate the impact a poorly crafted CV.

TIPS

  • Create a master copy for you CV & cover letter: The master copies should have an extensive description of your skills and work experience.
  • Personalize your CV & cover letter: Use the master copy and tweak it for the role you are applying.
  • Read your PDF: I have experienced moments when my format in PDF wildly differs from my word document.

 

#2 Online Assessments

These are typically timed assessments that are done individually with a deadline attached to them. Traditionally I have encountered verbal, numerical and logic based online assessments with the occasion scenario based questions.

TIPS

  • Practice: Allen Iverson can skip practice. You can’t.
  • Environment: These assessments can be stressful so ensure that you are in a conducive setting.

 

#3 One-on-One HR or recruiter interviews

These interviews can be done digitally, on-site or via phone. They range from 30 minutes to an hour. The questions during the interview tend to assess your behavior (E.g. your strengths, weaknesses) and your motivation (E.g. why this industry or organization).

TIPS:

  • Practice: Links are below on possible interview questions. Use them.
  • Know your CV & cover letter inside out: The interviewer may explicitly refer to your CV.
  • Go to the correct location: MNCs have multiple locations in Singapore. Do not report to the wrong location!

 

#4 Assessment Centres

This is my favourite. An assessment center is a collection of simulation and activities that aim to test you in a group and/or individual setting. Some examples of assessment centers are group case studies, individual prepared presentations, team based activities, impromptu activities, networking lunches & written assessments. This also implies that an assessment center may last from two to eight hours! Also do note that anyone you meet through the assessment center could be observing you.

TIPS:

  • Timing: Come early and chart with your frenemies (friend+enemies)
  • Assessment Center survival pack: I always bring snacks, drinks, pens, watch and a notebook.
  • Research: Know the state of the organization (E.g. challenges, direction of the company etc).
  • Performance: Be consistently great. But even if you have one bad performance, focus on redeeming yourself in the following task.
  • Performance (II): SPEAK UP! Interviewers are not clairvoyants.

 

 

#5 Last round of Interviews

If you have reached this stage of the interview, CONGRATULATIONS! While the shortest, the last round of interviews are the hardest to prepare. Firstly, by this point the origination has a dossier on you. The dossier would have your strengths, weaknesses and your performance from the previous rounds. Secondly, you are meeting the senior leaders, who are experts of their domains. Lastly, they are looking for how you would fit into the organization. Indeed, you can search about the company culture but often it can be about how you fit with a particular team or even an individual.

TIPS:

  • Research: Ensure your research is relevant to the date of the interview.
  • Know thy interviewers: Ask if you may know your interviewer & research about them.
  • Interview style: Expect your ideas to be vigorously challenged
  • Dress up: At this stage you should know what the attire in the organization is like, and dress more formally.
  • Hobbies: The most common question that I have received is what are your hobbies or what do you do on the weekends.

 

Last bit of advice

 

In the same episode of GOT, Tyrion Lannister gave the following advice to Daenerys Targaryen:

 You ‘re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying.”

While no MAP interview process can match the drama of GOT, I can say that MAP interviews can be tough. There are many rounds (4-5 on average) which can range over several months. You will require patience and perseverance to go through the rigour of each round.

Also nothing can be more disappointing when you fail proceed to the next rounds of interviews. Especially if it was for a program that you coveted dearly. Fret not, reflect on what went wrong, sometimes it could be just that the organization was not a right fit for you! Seek feedback from the interviewers and find support from you friends and loved ones.

I wish all interviewees the best!

This article was first published on LinkedIn