Tesco is a British retailer that sells groceries and general merchandise. With headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, Tesco has stores across the UK and Ireland as well as in several other countries, and there are opportunities both in-store and in office-based roles.

For those looking to launch their careers, Tesco offers a finance apprenticeship as well as a number of internships. The graduate programmes at Tesco include business and finance as well as a number of technology and software options.

Applying for a role at Tesco is simple and straightforward; once you have completed the application form you will be asked to take a game-based assessment, followed by a video interview. The last stage in the application process is the Virtual Discovery Centre, which is essentially an assessment centre.

Why does Tesco use assessment centres?

The recruitment team at Tesco use the Virtual Discovery Centre (or assessment centre) as a way to evaluate a number of candidates at the same time, focusing on the soft skills that are not always easy to assess in other ways. During the assessment centre, candidates are asked to complete several tasks, where they will need to use different interpersonal skills to be successful - including things like communication and listening, teamwork, and leadership. By challenging the candidates to work in groups and alone, the assessors can see exactly which candidates have the right amount of confidence and ability to be successful.

For the candidate, the Virtual Discovery Centre is a way to learn more about Tesco as a business, and what your role would look like if you were successful It is essentially a virtual ‘day in the life’, so you can demonstrate your skills and competencies to the assessment team while getting a feel for what the job will entail.

For both candidates and the recruitment team, the assessment centre is an excellent way to really explore job and culture fit.

What skills is Tesco looking for?

what to expect at a tesco assessment centre

Throughout the recruitment process, and in the assessment centre in particular, Tesco recruiters are looking for specific skills and abilities in applicants.

Some of these will be particularly relevant to the role you have applied for, including qualifications and experience. These will be listed in the job description, and you should make sure that in all your interactions with the recruitment team you focus on demonstrating your capabilities so they know that you are the best person for the role.

There are certain behaviours that the Tesco recruitment team will be focusing on in the Virtual Discovery Centre, and you can improve your chances of making a good impression by making sure that you are demonstrating these whenever you can. They are:

  • Collaboration

  • Resilience

  • Innovation

  • Empathy

  • Responsiveness

At Tesco, the culture is built around customer service and making things better, with the core purpose of “Serving Britain’s shoppers a little better every day.” In practice, this means that every aspect of the corporate culture is built around doing more for customers and colleagues, and the recruitment team wants to see that you know this and are willing to go the extra mile too.

According to Tesco’s website, this culture follows the below principles:

  • No one tries harder for customers

  • We treat people how they want to be treated

  • Every little help makes a big difference

In any interaction with the recruitment team at Tesco, have these behaviours and ideas in mind (as well as the specific skills and competencies needed for the role) so that you can show you are the best candidate for the job.

Tesco assessment centre format

Before you enter the Virtual Discovery Day, you will receive a personal coaching session from the recruitment team that will guide you through everything that you need to know for the assessment centre. This will help you to iron out any issues with connectivity, sound, and video as well as giving you an idea of what to expect in your sessions.

The format, structure, and content of the Tesco assessment centre might vary depending on the role that you have applied for, but you can expect the following activities at the Virtual Discovery Center.

Tesco group exercise

The group exercise will need you and a handful of your colleagues to work through a business problem that might be similar to one you would face in the day-to-day role you have applied for. You might be required to make a suggestion for a customer based on the information that you have been given or to suggest a strategy for another department.

Whatever the group task is, while you are in the assessment area you will be appraised by the recruiters, who want to see that you are able to speak your mind clearly, while listening to others, and that you can take the lead when necessary. This part of the Virtual Discovery Center is all about teamwork and collaboration.

Tesco business scenario

The business scenario is essentially a role play, where you will be working through a problem while acting as a member of the Tesco team. Before you start, you will be given a brief and some supporting information so you aren’t completely unprepared, and then you will spend some time acting through the scenario as if you were already employed by Tesco. It might relate to a dissatisfied customer or a problem with a supplier, for example.

In this section of the day, you will be assessed on your communication again, but with a focus on empathy, understanding, and negotiation as well as good customer service.

Tesco motivational interview

The competency-based interview that was used previously by the Tesco recruitment team has now been replaced with a motivational interview.

In this type of interview, the recruiter or hiring manager wants to spend some time getting to know more about you as a person and how that relates to your desire to work at Tesco. They might refer to things in your CV, so make sure that you remember the things you have included there.

They are likely to ask you questions about your motivations - for choosing that particular role or pathway, and why you have chosen to apply for Tesco as a company. These questions might be something like:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What are your career goals?

  • What inspires you to work hard?

  • Who do you look up to the most, and why?

Tips for passing the Tesco assessment centre

what to expect at a tesco assessment centre

1. Research

A graduate or apprenticeship position at Tesco is a long-term commitment, and the recruitment team wants to know that you have researched the company and the position before you get started. You can find out lots of information on the Tesco careers page as well as in the specific job description.

2. The coaching call

Not many assessment centres provide a coaching call before the day, but the Tesco call is designed to ensure that you can get the most out of the session, especially when it comes to preventing any technical issues. Take the call seriously and follow the instructions - you don’t want to risk having problems on the day.

3. Self care

When you are searching for the next step in your career, nerves can be a problem - but you need to make sure that you are taking time to look after yourself. This means getting good nutrition, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep in the run-up to the day. You don’t want to be yawning your way through the interview or getting distracted by hunger during the role play.

4. Make a good impression

Just because you are at home when you are taking part in the Virtual Discovery Center, still make sure that you are dressed well, that you look clean and presentable, and that there are no distractions in the background of your video. Smile, use positive body language, and make eye contact when you can.

5. Remember the competencies

While you want to be yourself throughout the application process and at the assessment centre, it is definitely worth bearing in mind the competencies, skills, and aptitudes that the Tesco recruitment team are looking for. Strive to demonstrate that you have what it takes to be successful in the role.