Job interview 2.0 – Ability test or job trial

Julie Ann Chan
14. October 2020

Well done! You have successfully passed the first hurdle on the path to your dream job: the first-round interview with your preferred employer. Now, you have been invited again. It is common for companies to ask a selection of candidates to come a second, sometimes even a third time to assess their skills or the fit more in-depth.

A thorough analysis of the previous conversation and good preparation will help you to pass this challenge successfully. Together with co-founder and managing director of DreiKreis, Katharina van Zeller, we have put together this five-part tutorial, in which she shares a decade worth of expertise and experience in the field of IT-related recruitment consultancy.

The game goes on

Usually, you will meet additional people, HR or future head of department and possibly additional team members, in the second round, but its structure can vary. Our customers regularly ask candidates to solve a task and present their results, while another popular option is a job trial. Some companies even carry out assessment centres.

An invitation to the second round doesn’t mean, you have landed the job. Take it seriously!

“It is impossible to generalise,” says van Zeller. “But we know the procedures of our business partners intimately and prepare our candidates for what is to come.”

“We suggest a thorough analysis of the previous interview,” she emphasises. Why not make a list of the topics examined, try to detect which subjects were prioritised and whether important questions where left out? In this way you are prepared for all eventualities.

Thorough analysis can be a gamechanger – take your time!

“Employers regularly delve deeper into questions that have already been discussed, especially where the head of department is present in both interviews. It is a huge advantage if you have properly reviewed the previous conversation,” van Zeller says and reassures: “but you can also prepare sufficiently for typical HR questions. There’s no need to be nervous.”

Sound prep spares your nerves!

A trial day in the department classically introduces the candidate to the team, its tasks, working methods and processes” van Zeller continues: applicants should use this day to assess whether position or project is what they really want to do. “We regularly observe that candidates decide against the position after a trial day, even though the first round had been a success. Make sure to use this chance!”

The job trial is helpful for both sides. A small assignment, which the applicant has to complete within a few hours enables the employer to evaluate how the candidate solves tasks, how he interacts with his team and head of department.

“Participate actively and show both your work and your personality. Initiative is often welcome, but try to fit in, at least for now,” van Zeller says. This also applies to the way you dress, and it is advisable to find out the company’s policy regarding clothes.

Dress professionally and adequately!

Homework during the application process

Another popular option is asking the candidates to complete a task within a set timeframe.

For software developers this could be a coding example. Communication-heavy positions, such as project managers or business analysts, often receive a case study, the presentation of which is an important part of the assessment.

This way, companies evaluate how candidates work on a technical level but also how they present their work, communicate, and interact with potential colleagues and customers. Technical competence is demonstrated as well as the individual way of tackling problems and how a person thinks.

Homework is the perfect opportunity to test your metal – prepare to shine!

DreiKreis-candidate Matthias Gasser has told us about his homework experience:

“I was asked to prepare a selection of tasks for the second interview. It was easy to understand what I was supposed to do because I was given a prepared template and extensive explanation. I relished the chance to prove my capabilities.

I was asked to present my ideas for the launch of a new product. On top, I had to prepare an example for a possible funnel. The last task was to sketch out a roadmap for my first weeks in the company and possible quick wins.

The tasks gave me a feeling for the future responsibilities and the professionalism of the company. The few days I had were enough time to fully immerse myself in the task without neglecting my other obligations and a fair investment with regards to the job I was interviewing for.

The conversation was professional, respectful, and conducted at eyelevel. It was fun to answer the questions about my presentation and I received constructive feedback and valuable input to my work.”

I felt valued and well supported.

And although not every job-search-experience is as positive as Gasser’s, here at DreiKreis we hear very encouraging feedback from our candidates.

“Ordinarily, there are one, maximum two interviews and assessment centres are very rare. There might be a third conversation where the managing director wants to meet the candidate. But in our experience, most companies decide after the second round,” van Zeller concludes.

Find out, how to prepare for tricky HR questions and to confidently approach any interviewing situation, in part 5 of our job tutorial next week.



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