Inside scoop: The Lab Assessment Day

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Want to know what it’s like to join us at The Lab Assessment Day?  In this article, Ella Beirne (Business Support Assistant, The Lab 2016) talks us through her experience...

"Receiving an email to tell me that I was successful in the initial application and phone interview to Publicis Health’s ‘The Lab’ scheme meant one thing: an invitation to the Assessment Day at Publicis Health's Head Office in Kensington Village. The Lab was launched back in 2014 to help expand Publicis Health’s pool of top talent and grow the next industry bright sparks from within. Not only this, Publicis Health wanted to open their doors that little bit wider by providing an opportunity for those with a passion to work in health & wellness communications to apply for The Lab, regardless of their educational background or prior experience.

So, I spent the next three weeks preparing, planning and practicing every day, consciously aware that there was just one stage between me and ‘The Job’ that I wanted so badly.

Before I knew it I was stood at the train station with a tube map, my handwritten preparation notes and a deep sense of determination flowing through my veins. Approaching Kensington Village was daunting, all I could think about was who else would be there, what experience they would have, who would be assessing me and what gruelling selection process they would put us through, none of which was eased by the fact that I was an hour early…

However, 1pm came round quickly enough and I was soon shaking hands with my competitors before we were all guided up a small spiral staircase and ushered into a room, where we were greeted by the faces of those who were going to be watching us like hawks – The Assessors.

Task one was simple and more of an ice breaker: a t-shirt with a printed crossword containing adjectives on the back. The job? Find the words that best describe us. The problem? The first word I spotted was ‘boring’ – not quite the way I would like to describe myself to my potential future employers! The solution? Work with others to find more complimentary adjectives (which we were allowed to do!)

Task two was the start of the formal assessment: A Debate about the Sugar Tax. We had been put into group A and group B which determined our debating fate. Twenty minutes of discussing, building our claims and considering the opponent’s arguments and we were stood presenting our debate against the ‘For’ team.

Once we had finished, the room was open to questions from both the other team and the Assessors and, of course, I was asked a question by the HR Generalist which quickly prompted my fight or flight response. Luckily the former took precedence and somehow I managed to formulate a succinct and sufficient answer.

Task three was to assess our creative flair, which is somewhat lacking from my skillset. The director of the Bowel Cancer UK Charity presented our task, which was a live brief: to encourage the public to take and send samples to be tested.

Fingers crossed that any essence of creativity I had may make an appearance, I began racking my brain for ideas that were 1. Sensible, 2. Original and 3. Inventive and, to my amazement, a few did pop into mind. However, I then zoned back into our briefing to hear ‘an almost £0 budget’… which instantly threw all of my ideas into the recycling bin. But we were off, our 20-minute timer was ticking and once again, we began discussing, building and considering ideas. Brainstorming on a large presenting board, I wrote down the thoughts from the team and we quickly whittled down the more questionable ideas to two. Luckily this time we presented first, ignorance of the other teams ideas was certainly bliss. The audience laughed (still not sure whether this was with us or at us), but we got through it.

Just as I thought the assessment process was almost over, we were told that we had to undertake an ‘Attention to Detail’ task… and I had forgotten my glasses. Each candidate was given a different brief printed on paper, with various spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. The room fell silent, as each of us began reading, highlighting and editing the documents in front of us. I had never realised how many times an individual can doubt their spelling abilities until that day! I read the brief three times, each time finding new ‘mistakes’ and changing my mind again. I was sure I had completely failed the task, and began thinking about how much a dog walker is paid…

The clock hit 4:30pm, and we were at the final stage: an interview. Each assessor was assigned to a candidate, so as we sat waiting to be ‘collected’ by our interviewer, I hoped that mine would be kind to me. I was extremely fortunate to be paired with Rianna, and as she approached me a sigh of relief came over me. The interview was certainly different – based on Pack Types. Rianna handed me a deck of cards, each with an adjective on, and asked me to pick twelve that I felt best described me (which was actually really challenging!) which we then discussed.

Finally it was all over. The last challenge? Navigating the London tubes to find my way home.

I received a call three days later to tell me that I had been successful in securing a position at Tardis Medical Consultancy, as a Business Support Assistant. I can safely say this was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received! Looking back, although the assessment process certainly challenged me, I am so glad that I applied and so grateful for this amazing opportunity."

Ella Beirne, Business Support Assistant, Tardis Medical Consultancy (The Lab 2016).