Q & A with Mick Hood, HR Director Liberty Steel: Part 3 Assessment centre skills

by | Nov 1, 2017

TATA steel run an apprenticeship programme and a graduate scheme which sits in the Times Top 100.

In the third in this series of blog posts I ask Mick Hood, HR Director with Liberty Steel (formerly Tata Steel Europe): What do you look for in a graduate, be it in HR, finance, commercial, engineering or operations, during a typical assessment centre?

The first thing is basic academic achievement which influences their fit onto a scheme. For graduates a 2:1 degree is the preference and for an apprenticeship we look for five GCSEs including Maths and English grade C or above.

After the qualification entry requirement, team working is a key skill.

People often reference team working, why is it important?

It is assessed heavily as we want people who cannot only work in their own direct team in an effective, creative and innovative way, we also want people to join our business who can work across teams and really make an impact while working positively.

It is about them not needing to be told what to do all the time

I always look for self-starters, someone who is not reliant on decisions from above, who can be given a problem and go off and solve it, being proactive and using their initiative is key to being successful in your first rung role. This goes beyond the qualifications held by someone, it is about them not needing to be told what to do all the time. Graduates often come from an environment of systems and rules and struggle without clear direction but it is a key skill.

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I can identify self-starters from their applications and things that have done in the past. Graduates who have worked for charities in their spare time, led sports teams, worked in part time jobs to allow them to go travelling – these all indicate the ability to get on and achieve their goals.

Ask questions, consider the requirements, then go out there and get things done

Communication has and will always be a key skill. I look for graduates who have the ability to put themselves across effectively, engaging with others and influencing them. This isn’t just about talking or presenting, it can also be about other key skills such as data mining and communicating back clear trends and findings. Once in a role I am looking for graduates to ask questions at the front end of a project, consider the requirements and then go out there and get things done. Someone who has good communication skills, the ability to seek understanding and then self-start will go a long way on a graduate scheme. Someone who asks repeated questions throughout a project and isn’t thinking about their approach will struggle to work in a fast paced environment. Understanding and asking considered questions at the front end of a piece of work with good foresight is a great indicator of strong communicators.

It is about considering the piece of work, understanding through questions and then doing something with it. Communication is as much to do with confidence, seeking understanding, listening and asking good questions. It isn’t just about talking and dominating conversations.

Questions asked by Jonathan Gallie, owner of Your Horizon. 

All views and opinions contained within the article are those of Mick Hood, and are not associated with those of Liberty Steel.