Logistics, transport and supply chain
Assessment centre: giving a presentation

Acing your logistics or supply chain assessment day

Find out what to expect and how to make a great impression on the day. We've even got tips from a graduate recruiter who knows exactly what logistics and supply chain employers are looking for.
We look for candidates who are seeing the day as a learning process, rather than just going through the motions. – DHL graduate recruiter

The assessment day or interview is your chance to show recruiters you fit the bill for their logistics, supply chain and operations graduate schemes – and this article will help you work out what they are looking for. Chrissie Gray, graduate talent manager at DHL explains how it is also your chance to find out more about working for them and whether it would suit you. ‘The assessment day is a two-way process: candidates learn more about the business and decide whether the opportunity is right for them, while we make a decision about whether they’re right for our business.’

What happens and supply chain and logistics graduate assessment centres?

Your assessment day timetable is very likely to include a group exercise and an interview. You may also have to complete a written exercise and presentation. If the event lasts the whole day, lunch will be scheduled in, during which you may get to mingle with assessors (HR staff and senior employees), recent graduates and other candidates.

What impresses logistics and supply chain employers

The key is to engage fully and enthusiastically with the day. Recruiters want reassurance that you want the job and your attitude is partly what they will base their assumptions on when imagining you as their employee (you must also demonstrate the competencies they are looking for – see below).

Engage with the activities: Some employers, such as DHL, take candidates round one of their sites. But this is still very much part of the assessment process. ‘We’re impressed by candidates who actively engage with the process on the assessment day,’ says Chrissie. ‘For example, we give candidates a site tour. Impressive candidates might ask questions to the people giving the tour. We look for candidates who are smiling and showing how much they want to be there – seeing the day as a learning process, rather than just going through the motions.’

Engage with the people: ‘We look at how candidates engage with people at the assessment day,’ says Chrissie. ‘The top candidates might be good at drawing things out of the quieter members of the group in the group exercise, for example. They might also use their interview to tell us about a time when they have engaged well with other people.’ After all, interpersonal skills are crucial for logistics and supply chain jobs.

Surely there is more to it?

Correct. A good attitude on its own isn’t enough. Researching the company beforehand is also imperative for showing that you’re serious about their business and their graduate scheme. ‘At the assessment day we’re impressed by candidates who know a little about our business and have some understanding of our customers. We’re a massive global brand and people know us for delivering parcels, but candidates need to understand that many of us work in other areas, such as supply chain and third-party logistics,’ says Chrissie.

Examples of things to research beforehand include (but are not limited to):

  • what the part of the business you are applying to does specifically
  • what services the business provides as a whole
  • company news, such as any collaborations with other companies, technological innovations or other drives to make processes more efficient in the last couple of years

Wider industry knowledge is also important; it is another way to show your enthusiasm and is part of being commercially aware. Sign up to an industry body newsletter to get the latest news on issues affecting supply chain and logistics. Otherwise you may not find out, for example, that more and more retailers are getting involved in collaborative transportation programmes to reduce road miles, emissions and costs.

Is there anything else?

Yes. Assessors don’t make job offers without checking that you have all the competencies that the role requires. You may be given a list of these before the day, or you might not, and they are tested throughout the day (ie the decision making competency, for example, isn’t just assessed during the group exercise, or just through the STAR examples you give recruiters at interview). See our article on the skills that logistics and supply chain employers are looking for to get an idea of the abilities you need to demonstrate, and find more help at assessment days from TARGETjobs below.