Assessment centres are often used in selection processes to give hiring managers the opportunity to observe candidates in ‘real work’ scenarios, testing the competencies that they are assessing beyond just interviews and in group activities.

Usually candidates will be invited in a group (often between 6 and 8) to a venue for a whole or half day.

Typical assessment centres will comprise of:

– Interviews

– Group activities (discussions, debates, tasks)

E-Tray exercise

– Psychometric testing

– Presentations to management (often to give a recommendation based on information in a case study that you’re provided with during the day)

1. Be confident – assessment centres are not cheap to run, so the fact that you’ve been invited shows that the employer is impressed so far! Often employers will have a target percentage of candidates that should progress to the next stage, so it’s important that you stand out from your peers and present your best self. Fading into the background is almost guaranteed not to be what they’re after!

2. Consider the competencies that the employer is assessing for the role – if they are after leadership, make sure that if there’s an opportunity take the lead that you jump on it!

3. Look the part – you’re going to be ‘on show’ all day so make sure you’re both comfortable and dressed suitably for the role you’re going for.

4. Be prepared for surprises – often employers will test your resilience by changing requirements of a task at the last minute. For example, you might be asked to prepare a 10 minute presentation on a topic, and when you arrive to present you will be told that the schedule is running over and in fact you only have 5 minutes. This will test you ability to prioritise and adapt – so keep a cool head and take a moment to consider what you will cut out.

5. Revisit your interview prep – often the assessment centre stage will come after a first interview stage of the recruitment process. Clearly what came across in that interview got you through into the next round, so make sure you revisit the examples that you gave and don’t over think the preparation. Make sure that you ask your contact at the company for feedback on your first interview so that you can correct any development points and amplify the positives.

6. Examine the organisations values – assessment centres are an opportunity to really get to know you, your character and whether you’ll be a good fit for the organisation, so make sure you know what they’re looking for and think about opportunities to present you fit well against them. For example – if they have a value of ‘We put customers above all else’, make sure that you have the customers at front of mind when preparing your presentation and in group discussions. Look at the company website, any materials that you’ve been sent as part of the recruitment process and social media channels to get a really good feel for the sort of candidates they’re looking for.

7. Get a good night sleep the night before – assessment days can be exhausting as you’re being constantly assessed, so make sure you can have as much energy as possible and don’t flag towards the end of the day.

8. Plan your journey – Do not be late…. it’s a sure fire way to differentiate you in all the wrong ways before you’ve even started! If you can’t make it on time when you’re being assessed what are the chances that you’ll be punctual in the work place?! Assessment centres can be in quite remote venues, given the cost of running them, so make sure you plan your journey well in advance and give yourself ample time to arrive early so you can settle in and not be rushed.

9. Join in, even in ‘down time’ – it’s highly likely that there will be coffee/lunch or even drinks breaks during the day or in the evening. Don’t forget that you’re being assessed ALL day, including how you behave socially, so be professional and join in discussions.

10. Offer to keep time! – If in doubt, offer to be time keeper. There is likely to be a time limit on any group exercises, and being time keeper is a great way to demonstrate that you’re comfortable taking a leading role and able to fully interpret requirements. Speak up about how the group are doing against the clock regularly and be prepared for the time limit to change.