Assessment centres

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Assessment centres are not so much a place as a process - they're a popular way for large organisations to test applicants to determine their suitability for a particular job. You may be asked to attend an assessment centre as part of the selection process if you've been short-listed for a job.

The assessment process can run from a half-day to two days and usually happens away from the workplace. You'll be asked to participate in a variety of exercises, which might include:

  • Role plays - scenarios similar to what you would encounter in the job
  • Case studies - work tasks designed to test your planning abilities
  • In-tray exercises - tasks designed to test your organisational skills and ability to prioritise
  • Job skills exercises - measure particular skills you would need in the job
  • Group exercises - test your ability to work as a member of a team
  • Psychological tests - a pen and paper psychological test that measures your mental aptitude for the job

You'll be ranked on your own performance and compared to other candidates. If you're successful, you'll receive detailed feedback on your performance and areas where you may need to improve.

Preparing for assessment centres

Assessment centres can be intimidating, but they give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and abilities. They give you an idea of:

  • What is expected from you
  • What the work will be like
  • Whether or not the job is for you

You can't study for them, but there are things you can do to prepare:

  • Review - if you're given any materials in advance, study them carefully - they can help you figure out what the organisation is looking for
  • Get there early - you'll feel less rushed, and you'll be able to get a feel for the location and the other applicants
  • Be yourself - the assessors are trained professionals, and they'll know if you're being fake
  • Read the test instructions carefully - make sure you know exactly what you're doing and that you have all the resources you need
  • Don't try to second-guess - you can't be sure what a particular task is designed to measure, so don't try to fake it. Just do each task to the best of your abilities
  • Ask for feedback - this will help you improve

See our pages on Attending interviews and Finding jobs online for further tips and advice.

Links

Graduate Careers - Assessment centres
Information about assessment centres in the job selection process.