Experiencing the American Express Assessment Centre

I begin with a question: when someone says, ‘Assessment Centre’, which words come to mind? Fear? Rigidity? Exhaustion? Formality? Pressure? Maybe even boredom? At risk of sounding like an advertising board, the American Express Assessment Centre turned all these assessment centre preconceptions on their head.

Hello! I’m Kat, the Enactus UK Engagement Manager and I was recently given the opportunity to attend American Express’ Assessment Centre in Brighton. Enactus aims to support young people in the UK (up to the age of 25) to engage in youth social action and youth social enterprise. Our mission in the UK is to be recognised as a leader in developing a national network of socially-minded young leaders of the future who transform communities and society through real life social action and environmentally responsible enterprise. We are really excited to say that American Express have recently announced a partnership with us! Now, a short disclaimer – I have not been commissioned by American Express to write this blog, all of the thoughts and ideas in this blog are my own opinion.

Anyway… from the offset, AMEX created an atmosphere of companionship and friendliness, diminishing the inevitable air of fear which is sure to overwhelm many. Greeted by a wealth of AMEX faces, the entire experience epitomised their exciting and inviting company culture. It was abundantly clear that AMEX really care about their existing and potential employees, whether they be investigating 10-week internships or full-time graduate schemes.

It can be quite daunting, being thrown into a room of strangers, who are theoretically your competitors. Spending your time constantly looking over your shoulder at what another is doing. However, it was collaboration which I believe triumphed in this assessment; it felt less like a competition, but rather a bid to do the absolute best that everyone could. The two-day assessment centre, gave students an opportunity to complete an extended task on day 2, but also informally prepare for the task the previous afternoon before networking with AMEX individuals in the evening. Not only did this ease the candidates into the structure of the assessment, it also created a more realistic atmosphere of the working world. Assessments centres are not known for delivering real-life or close to real-life scenarios. Yet, incorporating a planning stage, as one would prioritise before completing a large task, injected this often-overlooked aspect of centres.

They say that when you’re interviewed by a company, you should be interviewing them too. If there is one thing that American Express do really well, it is giving their employee prospects an opportunity to learn and understand their culture. The space for questions is vast and opportunities to interact with employees across seniority levels of the business are also abundant. From hearing personal interview horror stories, to insights into how they contribute to the AMEX culture, the company took their surface brand, opened it up to reveal the true heart of the company and the real humans behind it. Even I, with zero technological knowledge, am envious of the opportunities those candidates had on the day.

We are delighted to have American Express on board with the Enactus UK Programme. A company whose values and principles so clearly transcend into their workforce, is a company whose growth potential in supporting the next generation of responsible leaders is extraordinary.

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