Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres

The Careers Portal has learning pathways / resources to help you succeed at an Assessment Centre:

Assessment Centre Prep Tool

Read our essential guide to mastering assessment centres.


Tab Content: What is an Assessment Centre?

An assessment centre is any combination of more than one objective selection technique used to measure suitability for a job. It usually involves attending a venue along with other candidates for a day or a half day. Assessment centres use a combination of objective selection methods to measure suitability for a job.

An assessment centre is a combination of tasks and activities that test your suitability for the job. It gives you the chance to demonstrate a wider range of skills than you would have been able to during a traditional face-to-face interview.

Hosted over anything from an afternoon to two days, assessment centres may require an overnight stay, which the employer will normally arrange. You'll usually be joined by six to eight other candidates but it's important to keep focused on your own performance. Assessment centres are often the final stage of the selection process for large graduate recruiters.

What happens at an assessment centre?

Assessment days can be held anywhere from the employers offices to a hotel or training facility. You will work both individually and as part of a group on a variety of exercises including:

  • Case studies
  • Group discussions
  • In-tray exercises
  • Presentations
  • Psychometric tests
  • Role play
  • Social events
  • Written tests.

Example assessment day

Assessment centres vary dramatically in length, style and content, but an example assessment day might be:

  • 09:00 - Arrival and introduction
  • 09:15 - Employer presentation and group ice-breaker exercise
  • 10:00 - Psychometric tests
  • 11:30 - Individual task: In-tray exercise
  • 12:45 - Lunch
  • 13:45 - Group exercise: Case study
  • 14:45 - Assessment interviews
  • 16:15 - Individual presentations
  • 17:15 - Evaluation
  • 17:30 - Finish

Tab Content: Top Tips

Assessment centre tips

It's important that you:

  • Are assertive during all exercises.
  • Don't dwell on any mistakes, instead concentrate on performing well in the next task.
  • Ensure that the assessors can see your working methodology.
  • Don't worry about the other candidates, instead focus on putting your key skills forward.
  • Draw others into group discussions.
  • Ensure that you understand the requirements of each task by quickly digesting the brief - revisit this once you understand the overall challenge.
  • Join in with discussions, even at 'informal' mealtimes - ask other candidates about university if you're struggling for conversation.
  • Maintain a friendly and polite manner with everyone you meet, and remember that you're always being assessed.
  • Relax and let your personality shine, as assessors warm to individuality.

How will I be assessed?

Employers don't just assess you against job competencies; they also aim to ensure that you're the right fit. Being scrutinised for such a long time can be challenging, but assessment centres allow you to compensate for poor performance in one task by excelling in another. Key skills that employers look for include:

  • Adaptability
  • Analytical thinking
  • Commercial awareness
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Decision-making
  • Leadership
  • Negotiation
  • Organisation
  • Persuasion
  • Planning
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Assessors - usually a mix of HR consultants and line managers - score your actions against competency frameworks. They discuss all aspects of your performance before reaching a final decision on whether or not to hire you. All, several, one or none of the candidates could be successful.

You may find out there and then whether you've got the job or it could take a few days but the employer will let you know when you're likely to hear the result. As soon as you hear the decision make sure you ask for feedback so that you know what you need to work on and improve for the next assessment day.