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assessment centre

Assessment centres

An assessment centre is usually the final or penultimate stage used in the recruitment process and often involves the simultaneous assessment of a pool of candidates. It is a preferred method in graduate recruitment but can also be used for other roles.

What to expect

An assessment centre will usually last a day and will involve you undertaking numerous exercises either independently or within a group. You could be assessed by a mix of people including potential managers, HR representatives, current employees and examiners from external agencies. Assessors will be looking at how you react and perform in different situations and scenarios. Specifically, you are likely to be assessed on:

  • your ability to actually do the role on offer
  • your academic ability
  • your level of competence (e.g. performing technical skills)
  • your ‘fit’ within the company

The day could involve a range of activities including:

  • one-on-one interview
  • role play exercise
  • group exercise
  • tests (psychometric/numerical/logical reasoning/company’s own)
  • presentation (you may be given a topic in advance to present on)

How to prepare

As with interviews, preparation is the key to performing well at an assessment centre. Make sure you research the job on offer and the company and make a note of the people (their names and roles) who you will be meeting. Prepare some questions to ask for your interview.

Before the day, plan your route and method of travel and decide what to wear. This will ensure you give yourself enough time to wash and iron any clothing in the week preceding the assessment day and leave at the right time to get there early. Pack your bag/briefcase with a pen, notepad, a copy of your CV, information about the company and anything else you have been asked to bring. If you have been asked to prepare a presentation/task in advance, ensure you have both electronic and hard copies of your work to take with you.

Top tips for on the day

  • act professional at all times (even during your lunch break)
  • speak and listen at the right times – try and speak up during a group exercise so you can get your point across and give the assessors a chance to score you. Equally, try not to talk too much so you can listen to the points your fellow candidates have to make.
  • keep an eye on the time - time keeping is an important skill to demonstrate so avoid running over the time allocated for exercises
  • demonstrate active listening by referring back to things you have learnt over the day
  • use it as a networking opportunity and get to know the other candidates

Assessment centre outcome

If you are not successful at an assessment centre, ask for as much feedback as possible so that you can improve for next time. Use it as a learning experience and take on board any criticism.


For more advice and useful resources on navigating the recruitment process click here.

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