Assessment centres

Assessment centres

Assessment centres are usually the final stage of the selection process with large employers. They use a variety of exercises and activities to assess your skills and how you interact with others in a work-like environment.

Assessment Centres

Top Tips
  • Be professional – Treat the assessment centre as a work situation and be polite and helpful at all times.
  • Get involved – Contribute fully to all activities to give the assessors evidence of your skills and abilities.
  • Collaboration, not competition – How well you work with others is an important aspect of any assessment centre.
  • Be confident! – If you are the right candidate for the job and fit the employer’s culture, you should enjoy the assessment centre!
What employers look for

Employers will often look for characteristics which are not easily tested through other recruitment methods:

  • Impact – being able to get your point across and contribute effectively
  • Intellectual depth – being able to analyse complex information and think on the spot
  • Persuasiveness – getting others to see your point of view
  • Collaboration – understanding and working with what others have to offer
  • Resilience – knowing how and when to stand up for your ideas and defend your position
  • Judgement – being able to evaluate different options and being realistic
  • Maturity – being able to relate to a wide variety of people, including assessors

Depending on the employer and the type of job, competencies and criteria will vary, so remind yourself of the research you carried out for your application and interview, too.

How to prepare

Assessment centres will always involve a certain element of surprise, so keep an open mind and be ready to get involved. However, good preparation will give you confidence on the day:

  • Read anything sent by the employer carefully and take note of any practical instructions. Most employers also give you hints on what will happen on the day and tips on how to prepare.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare any tasks such as presentations.
  • Remind yourself of the employer’s requirements as well as your selling points. Go back to your application and notes from your interview.
  • Use the Careers and Employability Service resources to practise psychometric tests and prepare for interviews. You can also book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser.

You are also welcome to chat through your assessment centre schedule and what to expect with us.

What to expect

Most assessment centres are a combination of individual and group exercises. Here are some of the most common:

  • Group exercise – Usually, you will be given a scenario and possible solutions which your group has to evaluate. You may also be given different pieces of information or a specific role to play within your group (finance manager, HR manager etc.).
  • Case study – This is similar to the group exercise but you will be asked to analyse the information on your own and present your findings in an individual debriefing.
  • E-tray exercise – You will be asked to respond to emails (usually through multiple choice) using background information provided to you electronically.
  • Presentation – This can be prepared in advance or on the spot, followed by questions. 

You will be scored against a set of criteria or competencies throughout the assessment centre. This means that you will have several chances to prove yourself: If you think you did badly in one element, you can make up for this in others.

It is important to remember that you will not be competing against the other candidates, so be collaborative. It is not uncommon for an employer to select several candidates from one assessment centre and none from another.