Assessment centres

Assessment centres involve an employer bringing together a group of candidates to complete a series of exercises, tests and interviews. These are a popular feature of the graduate recruitment process. This format allows you to showcase a wider range of skills than you would in a standard interview. Stand out from the crowd by practicing the tasks you will be asked to do on the day and by researching the employer.

How we can help

Typical graduate assessment centre activities

Each company will design their own assessment centres to test for the skills and behaviours that are right for them, but they tend to follow a similar format. As well as interviews you could expect a combination of group work exercises, presentations, aptitude and psychometric tests, in-tray exercises, or case studies linked to the job function.

What are they are looking for?

Employers are looking for you to demonstrate a number of skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving. Being in a group helps employers to see how well you work with others, how you influence and persuade, and how others respond to you. They want to see how you react to different situations as you would in the job itself.

Remember: Assessment centres aren't about survival of the fittest. You are being assessed against the employer’s criteria and not against the other candidates. Be sure to find a way to work together with others to achieve the goals and tasks set.

How to prepare and stand out!

  • Practice and be prepared: This will help to boost your confidence and enable you to control any nerves on the day. Take a look at the events programme to see assessment centre talks and activities, practice some selection tests and brush up on your interview technique. Check out our video resources for employer perspectives on assessment centres and how to succeed on the day.
  • Read any literature employers send you very carefully: As well as practical information about the date, location and start time it should also tell you how the day will be structured and let you know about any preparation they are expecting before the day, such as putting together a presentation.
  • Research the employer: Don’t only use their website; look to see if they have been in the news recently. Take a look at the researching employers page to find out how to do this effectively.
  • Turn up ready to get involved: This is not the time to be shy; if you are too shy to speak your qualities can’t be assessed. It is also not the time to be ultra-competitive as you don’t want to come across as arrogant. So relax and try to be yourself!
  • Be punctual: Don't be late on the day - punctuality is the first part of the test!
  • Be aware: Remember that you are being observed for the whole time that you are at the assessment centre. Consider any breaks, meals and evening events as part of the assessment and remain professional at all times.