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Assessment Centres and getting them right

23rd Nov 2017


Assessment Centre: Hints & Tips

What is an assessment centre?

An assessment centre can take various forms, but in general it is an extended period of interviews, tasks and assessment exercises, which are compiled by the employer to help identify the best person for a role.  

They are often used by larger organisations and when there is a high volume of applicants of a similar skill level.

They help to understand how people perform in different situations and are mostly modelled on genuine work based situations

An assessment centre can come at various points of the interview process, some employers use them as a tool before they conduct face to face interviews as grounds for discussion, where others use them as a final step in the process. The majority of job applicants have usually been rejected before the assessment centre stage of a firm's interview process, having been screened out using single-phase assessment techniques such as telephone interviews and/or short face-to-face interviews.

What form do the assessments take?

Assessments will vary from job to job and company to company. Every employer will develop a series of exercises that will help them to identify the right person for them. specific to its recruiting needs. Regardless of this tasks and tests will be generally made up of similar things and likely include a combination of the following individual or group tasks:

Types if interview

  • Competency interview – scenario based questions
  • Partner interview – where you are interviewed by partners (or similar level members) of the company
  • Technical interview – where you are asked technical questions about functions you would perform
  • Panel Interview – where a group of people are conducting the interview (generally two or three people, but it can be more depending on the role and company).

Possible individual assessments

  • Aptitude tests - verbal reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning and/or numerical reasoning
  • Personality tests
  • Case study
  • Presentation
  • E-tray exercise
  • In-tray exercise
  • Written exercise

Types of group assessments:

  • Case study
  • Group exercise
  • Role play

Your performance in each exercise will be assessed against a checklist of the key competencies (abilities and attributes) necessary for the job. These competencies can include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Interpersonal skills and teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Numeracy
  • Organisation and time management
  • Verbal and written communication

It is important to be professional at an assessment centre. Candidates should behave as if they were already employees of the company that they are being interviewed by. You must dress for the occasion, so business attire is recommended unless you are advised otherwise. 

You should demonstrate even the simplest if skills from the onset so show you have good time management by arriving on time.  The first way you can demonstrate effective time management is to arrive on time.

There will be lunch and coffee breaks, during which you'll have the opportunity to talk to various staff members, including your assessors. Make sure that you introduce yourself in a polite and confident manner, it's a good idea to engage in conversations about the company and the industry. Listen to what others say, and try to ask intelligent and positively-framed questions.

Selectors want to see how you react to and get on with other people during your assessments. Although it is good to show that you are competitive, remember that your assessors are just as interested to see evidence of all the things that will make you a good fit for the company, namely teamwork skills, communication skills and that you can be a good leader when necessary.

As with everything it is a good idea to practice before you turn up to the assessment centre. Check out these sites that provide some example practice tests:




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