Assessment Day

Having completed a series of online forms with just the usual difficulties (“now when I did leave there??” and instructions to not use abbreviations – for an IT role! – on forms with short field length limits) I was invited to Putney to attend a VSO assessment day.

Shunning the need to stay overnight in Londinium a 4am start meant I just managed to make it to the offices for nine. Luckily some others were delayed a bit and I had time to regain composure and say a few hellos to a rather pleasant and radically diverse (in terms of specialism and age etc) group.

Following an introduction we were split into two groups – an economist, a primary teacher and a secondary (maths) teacher had to suffer me in their midst.

First off was a “team task” involving a few goes at the actual task with planning/review time in between. I won’t give away any specifics but it did involve two of my most dreaded words “arts” and “crafts”. Given the total muddle these things can become it all went pretty smoothly and everyone was very gracious about my uselessness.

After some preperation for the afternoon and a buffet lunch I was cursing myself for the 4am start and wondering if sneaking off for a kip would break any of the key “volunteer competencies” when I was called in for my one-on-one interview.

As interviews go it was weirdly “nice but intense”. The interviewer was very nice and it wasn’t at all confrontational or competitive but just very in-depth, detailed and thorough. Nothing really about job specifics more personal qualities, reactions, experiences and motivations.

Deep, man, but nothing you could prepare for so that was the previous couple of nights reading up on modem technology (still widely used in the developing world) and binary maths wasted.

Following on and back in our little team came the “dilemma” which we had individually prepared for before (and for the more studious applicants – during) lunch. We had to talk as a group about our own conclusions and see if we could reach a consensus being observed the whole time.

Like the morning task this is a good way of VSO seeing how you reason personally and how touchy-feely open to opinion and debate you are. Luckily we all got on ok and even managed to reach a consensus within the time limit.

After a bit of paperwork that was it. Out the door for a little decompressive drink with a couple of fellow applicants, a few jokes about how badly we’d all no doubt done and then the long trek back to Lowestoft.


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