Graduate Job Search Surgery – This Week: Assesment Centre Woes and Money VS Passion

Every two weeks we’ll answer your graduate job hunt questions.
You ask us a question – and we’ll do our best to answer. As long as it’s about graduate recruitment.

Assessment Day Etiquette

assessment day group interview

Hi Nicky,

I’ve got an interview for an amazing job with a great employer. One slight problem though – it’s an assessment day with lots of other graduates. As I’ve only ever done one on one interviews I’m not sure what to expect. What approach should I take?

Hi Priya,

I’ve been on lots of assessment days, both as a candidate and as a recruiter, so you’ve definitely asked the right person!

If you are attending an assessment day, the interviewer will be judging you on a few things:

  • Your social skills: in particular how you interact with others
  • Your attitude and how you come across
  • How you cope with various challenges

Some pointers:

1) Be Assertive: In a group discussion, don’t be afraid to speak up, but make valid points – don’t just talk or the sake of talking.

2) Be Respectful: I was once at an assessment day where they got rid of everyone who spoke over others in a bid to ‘make a good impression’. Be assertive, but also be respectful of others

3) Be Mindful Of Body Language: In a situation where you’re being assessed with others, your body language is under even more scrutiny when compared to others, so make sure to cover the basics: good posture, maintain eyecontact and solid handshakes etc (for more tips on bodylanguage, check out the last Graduate Job Search Surgery post)

4) Be A Team Player: At an assessment day, interviewers will be looking for your ability to interact well with others on your team. So when the situation arises, make sure you are contributing to team dynamics.

Hopefully that’s been some help to you.

Choosing Money vs Choosing Passion

choose money career or passion

Hi Nicky,

I’ve recently been offered a well paying graduate job with a prestigious company. My parents are really happy about it, but I’m not so sure. The salary is the most exciting thing about this job, everything else leaves me cold. I would much rather pursue my passion, but the problem with that is that doesn’t pay very well and it’s not secure employment either.
I want to say screw the money and go for what makes me happy but I feel like I would let my parents down if I walked away from this offer.

What should I do?


Hi Felipe

Sorry to hear you’re going through this right now

From the way you’ve worded your question it sounds like you already know the answer, so I would like you to consider two things:

1) If you take this job you will eventually quit.  If you take his job, there’s only one possible outcome: You will stick with it for 6 months at the most, and then, after you’ve had enough of wanting to drink bleach or feeling like sticking pins in your eyes every morning before work – because you hate your job that much – you will quit.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. It’s what happened to me (and other people I know) whenever I’d accept a new job solely for uninspired reasons like money.

Because there is nothing else to motivate and inspire you, you’ll either quit outright, or get burnt out and are forced to quit.

If you choose a job only for the money, I promise you it will not end well. But don’t just take my word for it, Harvard business review found that the most unsatisfied employees were those who prioritised money over everything else.

For more info on how to prevent this, see my post on ‘5 Clever Ways To Avoid A Graduate Job You’ll Hate‘.

2) In the world of work, very few things are permanent. Chances are, if you chase your passion and it doesn’t work out, you can always get another job later – you may even go into the high paying field that you got the offer for: always ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that could happen‘?

The world is full of unhappy employees who sacrifice their own contentment and peace of mind for money. It’s up to you whether you want to join their ranks.

Good luck,


graduates subscribe nowIf you enjoyed this post, you might like:
-Graduate Job Search Surgery – This Week: I Hate My Job and I’m Going Crazy
Graduate Job Search Surgery – This Week: Body Language Problems And Why Cover Letters Are Overrated


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