Assessment Centre Fail - Advice please?

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lpoolrob

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Hello,
I was hoping i could get some advice...

i attended the assessment centre stage for a train drivers job for Northern and passed all the tests put in front of me, GB, Dials & Glop, etc. and was told i performed above average for all them. Though considering the practice and revision I put in before hand I wasn't too surprised. However i did fail the structured interview at the end of the day. Not sure why, I thought the examples given were strong enough but obviously not.

My question is...
is that one of my 2 chances in life gone? even though i passed the tests except the interview? I was told later on the phone i had to wait 6 months before re applying, so I'm guessing it could be.
But I'm hoping for a definitive answer from somebody in the know?

Thanks!
 
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SkinnyDave

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Hi There,

Yeah I'm afraid the structured interview is part of the core element of assessment process.
 

lpoolrob

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Hi There,

Yeah I'm afraid the structured interview is part of the core element of assessment process.

Thanks for the confirmation. I'll make sure i double down on that structured interview part next time, especially as that is IT otherwise.
 

Mal1234

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Really sorry to hear you failed the structured interview, you did very well to get that far - just use the experience and i am sure you will succeed next time. Where did you apply for?

Mal
 

By 'eck

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I'm almost sure that if you fail at the assessment Northern will give you feedback, may be worth dropping recruitment an email.
I know that they don't give feed back at application stage.
 

Beveridges

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The structured interview is a pain, I failed on it first time despite passing the other tests with ease. It cost me a mainline drivers job at Blackpool. 2nd time I borderline passed it and ended up depot driving which is where I have decided to stay for the long term or even forever due to the difficulties that the career change would cause.
 

E&W Lucas

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Hello,
I was hoping i could get some advice...

i attended the assessment centre stage for a train drivers job for Northern and passed all the tests put in front of me, GB, Dials & Glop, etc. and was told i performed above average for all them. Though considering the practice and revision I put in before hand I wasn't too surprised. However i did fail the structured interview at the end of the day. Not sure why, I thought the examples given were strong enough but obviously not.

My question is...
is that one of my 2 chances in life gone? even though i passed the tests except the interview? I was told later on the phone i had to wait 6 months before re applying, so I'm guessing it could be.
But I'm hoping for a definitive answer from somebody in the know?

Thanks!

Sorry to hear that you ddn't pass.

Worth asking for feedback, but give yourself a couple of weeks to calm down, then think again about your answers.

Most of the structured interview questions relate to your life experience. Be honest with yourself - have you really dealt with the kind of situations it asks about? If not, particularly as part of your regular employment, then you may be best trying to get some exposure in these areas, before attempting the process again.

As a matter of interest, what's your background?
 

lpoolrob

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Thanks for the info guys.

Before the assessment I had read up on the possible 6 questions asked at the structured interview stage and used some experiences from life as my prepared examples.

1. Describe a time when you dealt with an emergency or unexpected situation?
calling the police at the sight of a suicidal man ready to do himself harm an possibly others 3 years ago.

The interviewer wasn't too impressed with this, so after some thought i used a time when a fight broke out between friends in a pub an i help split it up.

Not the strongest of examples i know, but i must have lived a sheltered life up till now, and i'm not sure what else i could say to such a question?

2. Describe a time when you had to solve a difficult problem?

operating as part of a 4 man team at a busy office in shipping industry an covering a person's desk when they suddenly took time off.

3. Describe a time when you have had to attend a training course lasting longer than 2 weeks?

I used studying my business degree as a mature student.

4. Describe a time when you have had to work alone for long periods

Writing my dissertation alone for 6 months and being responsible for the output.

5. Describe a time where pressure has been applied to the use of rules and regulations?

Working in the shipping industry and abiding by UK and EU shipping laws and finance regulations for processing UK exports.

I understand that they'll be other candidates with stronger examples, but short of lying, i'm not sure how i would go about answering those questions differently next time.
 

Beveridges

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I borderline passed 2nd time and these are the examples I used. I was Platform staff at the time. My Interview lasted over an hour with all the probing stuff so I'm just going to say what my example was in brief.

1) Describe a time you dealt with an emergency?

A tresspasser walked onto the track and I contacted the signaller and the BTP.

2) Describe a time you had to solve a difficult problem?

A train came in empty from sidings into one of my platforms with a fault. It was supposed to work a passenger service in 10 minutes but couldnt go until it had recieved fitters attention. I contacted the signaller and control to make them aware. Answered passenger questions awaiting the train to depart as it was now late off. I contacted the fitters to attend to the problem on the train and arranged for the despatch of other trains to be covered as I had to stay with this one.

It was a problem, maybe not a very"difficult" one, but very relevant to something a Driver might have to deal with.
Instead of giving the most difficult problem I have ever had as an example to this question, I used used what I thought was most relevant. I put relevance first, difficulty a distant second.

3) Describe a time you attended a training course lasting longer than 2 week?

Platform staff training course.
I have a Degree as well, which was infinitly harder, but once again I believe using the most relevant example is best.

4) Describe a time when you have had to work alone for long periods

Computer programming degree. Sat in front of a computer for hours on end looking at lines of code.
*This is the answer that was borderline* all my other examples were well above. They dont seem to like University related answers from what I can see. Even though it was a good example of working alone, it was not very relevant. I believe I would have scored higher if I had used an example of working alone for long periods in an actual job instead, but I had no other experience of lone working at the time. My Platform role was working as part of a time. For this reason I had to use the Degree.

5) Describe a time where you followed rules and regulations?

Rules and regulations related to my platform role. Plenty to chose from Despatch procedures, Safety critical communication procedures, Security protocols, rail replacements, emergency procedures, PTS (track safety) rules and more.
 
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BestWestern

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I'm not sure why an interviewer would be unimpressed with your first answer regarding a suicidal person, I would have thought that's a fairly decent example and indeed one which could well be directly relevant to the railway. Would I be right in assuming that the bulk of your career experience so far has been in the shipping office that you mention? If that's the case, then it might perhaps have been felt that your experience is maybe too 'office based' for a driving job at this stage, as ideally TOC's would most likely look for people with some experience of being 'out and about' so to speak. I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but have you considered any other jobs with the railway, e.g. Guard ("Conductor/Train Manager" etc)? May be worth a try.

Regards, BW.
 

lpoolrob

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Thanks for the feedback.

I've also had a manager interview for conductor's job too

I did work part time as bar man during university days and used this as a basis to couple of questions asked about with dealing with the public that i answered confidently and the immediate response i received appeared very positive from the manager and I was convinced i made it into next stage but again was unsuccessful.

Any feedback I've received afterwards has always been very generic and seemingly unspecific to my answers given.

Not sure how to proceed going forward and certainly wouldn't want to sit the assessment centre again and fail on structured interview and be written off for life in the industry as a result.
 

Beveridges

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You should be able to find out which question(s) you failed on. Then next interview just change you answer for that question but repeat the same answers for the ones that were OK last time.
Of cause you'd still have to repeat the first 5 tests (mechanical, reactions, etc) again which is a pain as it means practicing again.
 

notadriver

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Surely if the tests are valid for three years only the ones failed would need to be repeated. The managers interview is quite tough though as Beveridges will tell you.
 

lpoolrob

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Unfortunately i was told that being an external candidate, if i apply again i would have to sit the entire assessment again.
 

Beveridges

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I was made to resit all 6 componants of the test on my 2nd attempt even though I passed all tests except the Structured Interview 9 months previous. This was going in private and paying for them myself as well, so thats without any TOC being involved. Internal or not it doesnt matter you have to sit the lot again as its the assessment centers that enforce this garbage not the TOCs.
 

Class2ldn

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I would say that what you did in dealing with the suicide was correct but the problem is that it wasnt you dealing with it directly, the police would have done that. The 2nd example also seems a bit weak in the sense that its not an emergency and could have potentially put you in danger. On this they want something that you did directly, evacuation etc. I think your real problem is you simply Dont have thst sort of experience that they want. Not trying to be negative and its not your fault atall i just think they want a person Whos had to deal with something extreme and got through the other side of it.
 

rorybreaker

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I have my assesment for northern next week. Only found out today so got literally 8 days to prepare so not best pleased as got shifts to work during those 8 days!!! Considering i have only a few days, can people give me their opinion of what to prepare for the most. I am pretty sorted on the Bourdon and reactions but the rest, well lets say i need to work on. Especially the mechanics!!! Just some general advise please. Cheers
 

lpoolrob

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I would say that what you did in dealing with the suicide was correct but the problem is that it wasnt you dealing with it directly, the police would have done that. The 2nd example also seems a bit weak in the sense that its not an emergency and could have potentially put you in danger. On this they want something that you did directly, evacuation etc. I think your real problem is you simply Dont have thst sort of experience that they want. Not trying to be negative and its not your fault atall i just think they want a person Whos had to deal with something extreme and got through the other side of it.

Thanks, yep you're right.
makes you think the TOC's only want ex Paramedics or Royal Marines for drivers!
Nevermind
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I have my assesment for northern next week. Only found out today so got literally 8 days to prepare so not best pleased as got shifts to work during those 8 days!!! Considering i have only a few days, can people give me their opinion of what to prepare for the most. I am pretty sorted on the Bourdon and reactions but the rest, well lets say i need to work on. Especially the mechanics!!! Just some general advise please. Cheers

Prepare well for the mechanics test it is more difficult than the practice papers they send and study the diagrams closely!
 

E&W Lucas

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Thanks, yep you're right.
makes you think the TOC's only want ex Paramedics or Royal Marines for drivers!
Nevermind

Not really, but you do come across both of the above!

Most management roles, especially if they are customer facing, will give you the sort of experience you need. That's the background I had, and I found the structured interview straightforward. I just talked about routine experiences I'd had at work. You need to have been "the person responsible" for making things happen, so at the very least you need to be self- managing at work, if not managing others.

If you found the interview hard, it's because you've not had the right exposure in your career to date. Based on the examples you've given above, I wouldn't rush into your second shot at the process. Work out how you can broaden your life experience a bit. If you can't change the day job, what can you do in your spare time? SPecials, St John's Ambulance, TA, youth organisation, etc?
 

SkinnyDave

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Ive got a friend thats a marshall for Silverstone at Formula 1 which he has done to give him good safety experience
 

lpoolrob

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Thanks for all the advice! A great forum

Will certainly look into extra curricular activities to bolster such experience for the future.
 

387star

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Hello,
I was hoping i could get some advice...

i attended the assessment centre stage for a train drivers job for Northern and passed all the tests put in front of me, GB, Dials & Glop, etc. and was told i performed above average for all them. Though considering the practice and revision I put in before hand I wasn't too surprised. However i did fail the structured interview at the end of the day. Not sure why, I thought the examples given were strong enough but obviously not.

My question is...
is that one of my 2 chances in life gone? even though i passed the tests except the interview? I was told later on the phone i had to wait 6 months before re applying, so I'm guessing it could be.
But I'm hoping for a definitive answer from somebody in the know?

Thanks!

Did you have a test where you have switches and you have to work out from a sequence which one isn't working or was it just dials. Were the dials shaded?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Sorry to hear that you ddn't pass.

Worth asking for feedback, but give yourself a couple of weeks to calm down, then think again about your answers.

Most of the structured interview questions relate to your life experience. Be honest with yourself - have you really dealt with the kind of situations it asks about? If not, particularly as part of your regular employment, then you may be best trying to get some exposure in these areas, before attempting the process again.

As a matter of interest, what's your background?

Exactly why I waited because I knew I wasn't ready for the interview experience wise. I am now training with St John's and hoping this will result in some emergency based situations

Wow I put ST JOHNS down before I noticed it on your post! Good to know I am on the right lines. I have had managerial experience but only supervisory level
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Thanks for the info guys.

Before the assessment I had read up on the possible 6 questions asked at the structured interview stage and used some experiences from life as my prepared examples.

1. Describe a time when you dealt with an emergency or unexpected situation?
calling the police at the sight of a suicidal man ready to do himself harm an possibly others 3 years ago.

The interviewer wasn't too impressed with this, so after some thought i used a time when a fight broke out between friends in a pub an i help split it up.

Not the strongest of examples i know, but i must have lived a sheltered life up till now, and i'm not sure what else i could say to such a question?

2. Describe a time when you had to solve a difficult problem?

operating as part of a 4 man team at a busy office in shipping industry an covering a person's desk when they suddenly took time off.

3. Describe a time when you have had to attend a training course lasting longer than 2 weeks?

I used studying my business degree as a mature student.

4. Describe a time when you have had to work alone for long periods

Writing my dissertation alone for 6 months and being responsible for the output.

5. Describe a time where pressure has been applied to the use of rules and regulations?

Working in the shipping industry and abiding by UK and EU shipping laws and finance regulations for processing UK exports.

I understand that they'll be other candidates with stronger examples, but short of lying, i'm not sure how i would go about answering those questions differently next time.

Last question seems toughest. Am I right it is looking for a time when a pressure meant it was hard work keeping to rules and regulations. Indeed there may be times when it is best to use initiave rather than going by rules and regs but only in extreme cases. I am sure if the example is relevant going against rules to protect life etc in extremes would be favourable to you?

The training course question... does a degree actually count as a training course? Presume so
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I borderline passed 2nd time and these are the examples I used. I was Platform staff at the time. My Interview lasted over an hour with all the probing stuff so I'm just going to say what my example was in brief.

1) Describe a time you dealt with an emergency?

A tresspasser walked onto the track and I contacted the signaller and the BTP.

2) Describe a time you had to solve a difficult problem?

A train came in empty from sidings into one of my platforms with a fault. It was supposed to work a passenger service in 10 minutes but couldnt go until it had recieved fitters attention. I contacted the signaller and control to make them aware. Answered passenger questions awaiting the train to depart as it was now late off. I contacted the fitters to attend to the problem on the train and arranged for the despatch of other trains to be covered as I had to stay with this one.

It was a problem, maybe not a very"difficult" one, but very relevant to something a Driver might have to deal with.
Instead of giving the most difficult problem I have ever had as an example to this question, I used used what I thought was most relevant. I put relevance first, difficulty a distant second.

3) Describe a time you attended a training course lasting longer than 2 week?

Platform staff training course.
I have a Degree as well, which was infinitly harder, but once again I believe using the most relevant example is best.

4) Describe a time when you have had to work alone for long periods

Computer programming degree. Sat in front of a computer for hours on end looking at lines of code.
*This is the answer that was borderline* all my other examples were well above. They dont seem to like University related answers from what I can see. Even though it was a good example of working alone, it was not very relevant. I believe I would have scored higher if I had used an example of working alone for long periods in an actual job instead, but I had no other experience of lone working at the time. My Platform role was working as part of a time. For this reason I had to use the Degree.

5) Describe a time where you followed rules and regulations?

Rules and regulations related to my platform role. Plenty to chose from Despatch procedures, Safety critical communication procedures, Security protocols, rail replacements, emergency procedures, PTS (track safety) rules and more.

I would say be sure you know the rule book as if you say anything you have done which goes against/dosen't correspond with the rule book you would be penalised I'm sure

What degree do you have Beveridges?
 
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Beveridges

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What degree do you have Beveridges?
Computer Programming. It basically involed working alone starring at lines of code for hours on end. A very frustrating Degree I can say for sure as well and glad to see the back of the programming.

Re: Dealing with an emergency question
think they want a person Whos had to deal with something extreme and got through the other side of it

I'm not sure about that it has to be extreme! My example I used of dealing with someone walking on the track is far from extreme!! It was an incredibly easy and stress free experience - unlike the Assessment itself!
Its all I could think of that was relevant. Yet that answer still passed the structured interview assessment.
There are many Platform Staff and Conductors who pass the Drivers Assessment and many of them do not have examples of extreme emergencies, some of them not even real emergencies. You just need to give an example of something unexpected that happened, whether it is extreme or not. Maybe the best examples are ones where you did quite a lot of actions. If your example only had you phoning the police for example, thats not a lot you can talk about. In my example I used of someone tresspassing on the track, its probably a less extreme emergency than the suicide one, but I gave about 7 or 8 different actions that I made, and answered the following probing questions in detail telling them what they want to hear
 
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dglondon

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Hi, I was just wondering how these questions were put to you. ie. Were they given to you in writing in advance of the interview and you then had a certain amount of time to write down responses ? (which they then used afterwards in the interview itself to ask more detailed questions). - or did you just go straight into the interview and they asked you these questions face to face.

Also, most of the interview questions you highlight seem similar to the types that are asked during the online application for most trainee train driver roles I have seen advertised. As you obviously passed the initial paper sift, were you not able to use the same responses from the online application for the identical interview questions ?

Has anybody else gone through the structured interview and used the same responses that they used for the initial application as some of the questions turned out to be the same ?. I was just wondering if you are allowed to do this or if they expect you to use different examples - the problem with using different examples is that you have probably used your strongest examples in the initial application so there's a danger that the new examples you use at the interview will be weaker.
 
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