Getting to this stage in the recruitment process means that you are in a strong position. The employer is definitely interested in you. But you can't afford to think that a job offer is a sure thing. This stage is competitive. It's designed to give both you and the employer a more in-depth assessment of each other.
What is an assessment centre?
Assessment Centres are usually the final stage of an employer's recruitment process. Employers use Assessment Centres to determine if a candidate has the required competencies for the role. They use exercises to assess the range of skills and personal attributes required.
Assessment Centres can be a more reliable method than interviews for assessing candidates. They can vary in duration, format, and content. Candidates engage in a range of activities. These will be assessed by a team of trained observers. To make the process objective, different observers will see you in each of the activities.
Some recruiters are using tools such as Skype and Microsoft Teams and Virtual Reality (VR) to simulate a typical work environment.
What to expect
Each Assessment Centre will include a range of exercises and activities. These will help the employer assess that the candidate has the competencies for the role. Most employers try to make the exercises as realistic as they can. This is to reflect what actually happens in the role and in the organisation. Common exercises used at assessment centres are:
|These are a "getting to know you" type of exercise.
|These vary in style and format and are designed to abserve how individuals function as a group and how they respond and react to each other.
|These could be similar to the first interview but be prepared to answer questions in more depth. You might be interviewed by more senior members of staff or your future line manger.
|Tests are designed to assess your numerical, verbal, diagrammatic, logical reasoning, and situational judgement. Employers will administer those appropriate to the role.
|Candidates are given a selection of letters, memos, and reports in either paper or electronic format and a scenario. Most of these types of exercises require you to analyse, prioritise and make decisions.
|Candidates can be asked to prepare a presentation in advance of the assessment centre or to present conclusions from one of the exercises.
|Exercises designed to observe how you react in a situation related to the role. Candidates are given a scenario. Role play is commonly a one-to-one exercise.
|These are designed to observe how candidates solve a business problem.
How to prepare
Things to do:
- attend Assessment Centre seminars held in the Careers Service. Some of these are run by employers
- use the assessment centre module in our online career management tools to find out more
- watch the At the Assessment Centre video series
- read TARGETjobs advice about assessment centres
- read Prospects advice about assessment centres
- read University of Kent's advice about assessment centres
- practice Psychometric Tests
- research the sample materials in the Assessment Centres folder in the Careers Resource Centre
- read Prospects advice about giving presentations at an assessment centre
- attend one of the Skills Sessions presented by employers, or one of our short briefing sessions. Check the events calendar on MyCareer
- What remote assessment centres look like and how to prepare
- Preparing for and succeeding in an online assessment centre
- Debut have created a guide to surviving an assessment centre
- Preparing for presentations
- Acing assessment centres : presentations blog post
- Student Skill Store - create design and deliver brilliant presentations (Youtube)
- What is an in-tray exercise? advice from TARGETjobs
Before the day
- research the organisation - again! You should have done the research for the first interview - refresh your memory
- reflect on your first interview. How could you improve? If you weren't asked technical questions, expect them at the final interview. Are you prepared?
- expect the unexpected. You may be required to do some work in the evening for the following day while at an Assessment Centre. This might involve preparing a presentation or reading a discussion paper. Be careful not to overindulge in hospitality.
- as best you can, get a good night's sleep
- stay calm, and be yourself
How you'll be assessed
Assessment centres are designed to be impartial and assess each candidate's ability to do the job. Candidates are not in competition with each other. They are scored individually.
The exercises highlight particular competencies. Below is an example of the guidance notes given to assessors for an exercise. It includes positive and negative indicators that they have to look for. In this case, they are judging the candidates on the following competencies:
- analytical ability