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assessment centre guide

Assessment Centres – An Insider's Guide

assessment centre guide

An assessment centre is an integral part of the selection process for competitive roles, including graduate placements and management positions. The process gives employers an insight into how candidates cope with the demands of an intense day and the challenging tasks that reflect workplace situations.

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How best to prepare for an assessment centre

The more prepared you are, the higher the chance of success on the day of your assessment centre. Consider all the different aspects of the event in your preparations.

Check the location, time and date of the event. You want to arrive at the venue in good time to avoid unnecessary stress before the assessments start.

Take online practice aptitude tests. Practising beforehand can give you an idea of the sorts of questions you’ll be asked and the format and timing of the tests.

Research the company. You’ll feel better prepared if you can approach the event knowing about the company’s history, successes, competitors and market position.

Revisit the job description. The original job description outlines all the skills necessary for the role and gives you a good idea of what you may be tested on at the assessment centre.

Carefully read any information you are sent. You’ll be sent an information pack detailing the itinerary for the day, what to take with you, and if there are any tasks to complete beforehand.

How to pass an assessment centre

Follow these suggestions on the day of the assessment centre to give yourself the best chance of success:

Dress appropriately

Choose your outfit the night before, making sure you look smart and professional. Feeling confident in your appearance can give you a boost on the day (or at least one less thing to worry about).

Be confident

Now is not the time for shyness. You have one chance to demonstrate your abilities and you are up against other talented candidates, so speak up and contribute.

Be flexible

Your assessors may decide to add in an extra activity on the day to test how well you can adapt to changing situations.

Revisit your previous interview experiences

The assessment day will build upon previous skills you were asked about in the early interview stages. Go over any examples you gave, and any advice or feedback you received at the time.

Take the opportunity to network

Use your downtime during refreshment and lunch breaks to engage with others, establish connections, and demonstrate genuine interest in those around you. By displaying a confident and friendly demeanor, you may uncover unforeseen opportunities that come from expanding your network

For more guidance, see these 10 tips on how to pass your assessment centre.

Sample Assessment Centres – An Insider's Guide question Test your knowledge!

What should be the primary focus when preparing a presentation for an assessment center?

  • Creating a spectacle with visuals to captivate the audience.
  • Ensuring the presentation is directly relevant to the job role and topic provided.
  • Displaying as much information as possible to showcase your knowledge.
  • Reciting the content from memory to demonstrate preparation.

During a meeting, you notice two separate pieces of information that seem to contradict each other. What is your first course of action?

  • Confront the person who provided the information.
  • Ignore the discrepancy as it's probably not important.
  • Bring up the discrepancy in the meeting to seek clarification from the group.
  • Analyze the context in which both pieces of information were given to understand the potential reasons for the contradiction.

During a role-play exercise, your team needs to come up with a new marketing strategy. However, one of the team members is not participating. What do you do?

  • Ignore the non-participating team member and continue with the rest of the team.
  • Directly ask for the team member's input and make them feel included.
  • Report the team member to the assessors for not participating.
  • Focus solely on your own contributions to ensure you stand out.

You are given a scenario where the company must decide whether to invest in new technology or upgrade the existing one. Which factor would you consider the least important in making this decision?

  • The cost of the new technology compared to the upgrade.
  • The potential disruption to operations during the transition.
  • The preferences of the company's IT department.
  • Projected return on investment for each option.

In a group discussion, you encounter differing opinions on the direction of a project. How should the group proceed to reach a consensus?

  • Vote on the best option, and the majority decides the outcome.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of each opinion, with the goal of finding common ground.
  • Let the most senior group member decide the direction.
  • Split the project to accommodate all differing opinions.

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Assessment Centres – An Insider's Guide FAQs

How are assessment centres scored?

Assessment centres score candidates over company-specific criteria using a number of different exercises and simulations under the surveillance of the assessors. By the end of the day, the assessors decide on a person’s fitness for a required profile, taking into account their performance in communication, teamwork etс.

How long are assessment centres?

Assessment centres vary in their length and content, but they’re typically a full day or half a day, so as to correspond with a regular work day. This means timings, breaks and lunches will usually be aligned with that of the company and its employees.

How many people attend assessment centres?

Assessment centres typically take place during the final stage of selection, so only candidates who have passed the previous selections are invited to attend. This can be as few as a handful or as many as a couple of hundred. The number of candidates attending will be closely linked to the number of roles available.

What happens after an assessment centre?

You might not be given feedback on the day of the assessment centre itself. Expect to hear back from the employer when they have had a chance to review all the candidates and have made a decision. This can take anywhere from a few days, to a week or more. You should be given an idea of how long to wait before contacting them if you’ve not heard anything.

How to introduce yourself at an assessment centre

The way you introduce yourself can make a lasting impression. Start by giving your name and offering a handshake if appropriate. Think about what you want to say before you approach someone. Do you have a question you want to ask, or some information that is relevant to that person? Be ready to listen and open up a two-way conversation.

What do assessment centres measure?

Assessment centres measure how a potential worker will handle routine tasks during a working day in the company. All activities, depending on the job specifics, are aimed to test a person’s professional attitude and skills such as critical thinking, decision making, teamwork, leadership, etc.

What to ask at assessment centres?

Asking proper questions at assessment centres is a good way to show your positive attitude. Research the company’s website and social media, find out about significant milestones in the company’s history and the position you are applying for. Ask questions about work culture and recent achievements or issues faced.

What to wear to assessment centres?

There’s a good chance the employer will say, so if you’re unsure, ask. Dress to impress but make sure you wear something that you’re comfortable in.

Which employers use assessment centres?

Assessment centres are largely used by big enterprises. Typically they hire a third-party recruitment company to organise and perform the assessment. It’s an expensive way to select new employees that is often beyond start-up and small companies’ budgets. However, they might still use some assessment centre elements like a mock presentation or in-tray exercises.

Why do employers use assessment centres?

Employers use assessment centres to analyze how a potential employee will manage with daily tasks at a job they’re applying for. Assessment day tests are used to simulate work situations and require candidates to use their abilities as they would during a regular work day. Often they include lunch with future colleagues to evaluate how they’ll fit in with the team.

Why are assessment centres so hard?

Assessment centres are complex sets of tests that are meant to evaluate your performance in a specific position. They involve various events that simulate work-related situations. These tests are designed to be hard to simulate a stressful or busy day at work and see how candidates will perform in this environment.

Where can I practice assessment centres?

Practice is the key to successful participation in assessment centres. If you have never participated in an assessment centre, read our guides to the various tests involved. Those contain plenty of materials for you to get started with, such as exercises, tips and information about what to expect.