Approximately a month later I was contacted on my mobile for an on the spot telephone interview. Fortunately I was busy at the time and rearranged for the next day.
The telephone interview lasted between 10 - 15 minutes and asked the following questions:
- Why Atkins
- Why nuclear
- What interests you about this position
At the end of the telephone interview she congratulated me and told me that I would be invited to the assessment centre next week and she would email me the details.
Most difficult question
The difficult questions arise in the technical portion of the assessment centre. Make sure you go over the basics in terms of material balances, reaction engineering, controls and safety.
Experiences at the assessment centre
The day starts off with a presentation from the Atkins team followed by short introductions of ourselves. In total there were 6 candidates of which there were 2 positions for the office. After this we were all given an individual timetable of the activities that we would be doing throughout the day. Each person had a random arrangement of the activities, except for the group one. In no particular order the activities were as follows:
You are given 45 minutes to complete a task. You imagine you are a consultant working for Atkins and you have been given £10 million for the regeneration of a fictional city. You have different things you can spend this money on, however you have to try and accomodate for all the different stakeholders. You have to write a plan stating what you will do with the money and why. You also have to create a stakeholder management plan.
The key here isn't to get it finished. It is to be able to think carefully about what you do and being able to successfully articulate this. This is something I did, and although I didn't finish it, when I got my feedback they thought it was an excellent piece and said outright to me that they didn't expect anyone to finish it.
The presentation won't necessarily be automatically after the writing test, but won't be before. You now have to present your idea to one of the government officials. You are given 15 minutes to prepare and 7 minutes to present. You are given a flipchart and pens which you can use to help you. My advice would be to use it! Following the presentation there will be a few questions regarding it. Nothing too difficult.
This was the most difficult part of the day in my opinion. Everyone struggled with this. This is a written technical exam that lasts 45 minutes, with no calculator.
The first portion was quite simple. It is a mass balance over a reactor and you need to find the amount of water required in order to separate two substances. Revise the basics.
Then things start to get more complicated with reaction engineering and controlling reactors as well as the different types of separation processes.
The second portion is you are given a scenario, you have a tank that has excess residue of nuclear waste, how would you remove it. The answer is quite simple. Then theres a few questions regarding how you would stop it from overflowing, the different types of pumps and safety.
This along with the test was the most difficult. You walk through your answers to the technical exam with the interviewers. They'll try and help you as much as possible to guide you towards the correct answer.
Easiest part of the day in my opinion. Basic competency questions like:
- Tell me about a time you worked with someone difficult?
- What was your greatest achievement?
This is pretty much like most other group task done at other assessment centres. Since there were only 6 of us, all of us were together as one big group. We had been commissioned to create a new tourist attraction in a fictional country. There were a number of things we could do, we had to choose one, choose a location within the country and justify. This is all about how you work as a team. You don't have to be the leader to be successful is the advice I was given. So don't jump in to lead, get others involved who aren't speaking as much. Listen, explain. Imagine noone is watching you (Expect there are approximately 10 people all with eyes on the table in the middle watching everything you do - No pressure :) )!
Lunch happens before the group task and you get to meet some of the graduates on the scheme. Talk to them and find out about the work.
I heard back from them after two weeks via email being informed I didn't get the job. I then arranged a time for them to call me for feedback, which was then given.
- Group / Panel
- Senior Management
- Verbal reasoning
- Assessment centre
- Group exercise
- Background check
- Competency based questions