Assessment & Development Centres
An assessment centre is used to assess candidates through a number of different means and will usually involve the simultaneous assessment of a pool of candidates.
This approach is usually used in graduate recruitment, but is generally useful for assessing a mass group of people. The types of assessment can vary depending on the number of people attending or the role that is on offer.
Here is our top tips guide as to what to expect during an assessment centre and what exercises you may come up against.
- An assessment centre will usually last an entire day
- It will involve numerous exercises
- This is usually the final or penultimate stage used by companies in the recruitment process
- Assessors will be looking at how you react and perform in different situations and scenarios
What are you Being Assessed on
- Ability to actually do the role on offer
- Academic ability – graduate level
- Proven level of competence – technical skills
- Business potential
- Company “fit”
Who is Assessing you on the Day
It is important to be aware that almost everyone you meet will be assessing you in one way or another. It is important to make sure you uphold your professionalism at all times.
Ensure you note “who is who” when you are introduced to people.
- Potential managers
- Current employees
- External examiners/agencies
As with interviews, preparation is the key to performing well at an assessment centre.
Firstly you need to think about your route and method of travel, location of the assessment centre and any joining instructions you need to follow.
- Names of people you are meeting
- Dress code – be as smart as possible
- Notepad, pen, copy of your CV, company information
- Other information you have been asked to bring
For some exercises, you will be asked to prepare in advance i.e. presentations. Make sure you have copies of your slides electronically and in hard copy.
Role play exercises are popular with assessment centres so make sure you research the job on offer to understand what you will be expected to do to help you to prepare.
What you can Expect
- Introductions – as mentioned previously, remember who you are meeting and what position they are within the company.
- Company presentation and format for the day ahead – take notes and be as enthusiastic as possible, ask questions if prompted
- One-on-one interview – a key part of the day, this usually be with your potential manager
- Site tour – this is also a great opportunity to ask questions and demonstrate your enthusiasm
- Networking opportunities – see our Networking Section for further hints and tips
- Role play exercise
- Group exercise – your chance to show your teamworking skills
- Tests – psychometric/company’s own/numerical/logical reasoning
- Presentation – you may be given a topic in advance to present on, ensure you have practiced and you can leave time for questions that the assessors may have
A Few Dos and Don’ts!
- Do have your “show face” on all day – remember you are being assessed at all times, including lunch breaks
- Do speak at the right times – particularly during a group exercise so you can get your point across and give the assessors a chance to score you
- Don’t be too overbearing and consider the views and opinions of other people who are being observed
- Do prepare as much as you can by knowing the business and the role you have applied for
- Do be as smart and professional as possible with your dress and manner
- Do prepare questions to ask during interviews – please see our Interviews guide for help with what to say
- Do break the ice with other candidates and get to know them
- Do demonstrate active listening and refer back to things you have learnt over the day
- Don’t run over time with exercises – time keeping is another important skill to demonstrate
Reflect and Review:
If you are not successful at an assessment centre, take it on the chin and ask for as much feedback as possible so that you can improve for next time.
Use this as a learning experience and take on board any criticism.