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Making The Assessment Centre Work For You

What happens at assessment centres?

Assessment centres involve the extensive evaluation of candidates for an extended period of time; sometimes lasting one or two days. During this period candidates undertake a range of exercises and activities which typically include: interviews, presentations, aptitude tests, personality tests, group-exercises, and in-tray exercises.

Graduate employers are increasingly using assessment centres as part of their selection process as it allows them to broadly assess the aptitude of their candidates, as well as their ability to thrive in real-life work situations. Furthermore, informal social events throughout the assessment day provide employers with an additional insight into the social and communicative skills of candidates.

Some top tips for the big day

Facing a one or two day barrage of assessments is likely to be an anxiety provoking prospect for any candidate. However, there are many things you can do to get yourself psychologically and practically prepared!

Firstly – try and find out from the organisation what kinds of test you will be doing. You may already be able to guess from the type of position you are applying to. Forewarned is forearmed!

Try and get lots of practice in – it will do wonders for your performance and will help you overcome some of the anxious thoughts and feelings that might otherwise cloud you on the big day. You might like to take a look at our pack of expert tips and real-life examples of assessment centre exercises, as well as our range of psychometric practice tests.

Finally – keep in mind that the assessment centre can be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your breadth of skills. So, if you don’t perform as you had hoped on one particular exercise, you may have the chance to make it up in another area!

Tackling the group exercise

What’s involved?

For many organisations, it is vital that their employees have the ability to communicate with others and to work well within teams. For this reason, employers regularly include some form of group exercise when inviting candidates to the assessment centre. This will often be in addition to individual assessments such as interviews, personality tests and aptitude tests (e.g. verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and inductive reasoning).

Group exercises can vary considerably and may include role plays, case studies, topical discussions and problem-solving tasks.  For example, you might be required to take part in a discussion about an issue relating to the organisation and be allocated a particular role to adopt (e.g. company director). Alternatively, you might be asked to solve a business or ethical dilemma, to plan a project within a given budget or to get creative and build a physical structure together as a team.

How should you approach it?

The range of different scenarios you could face may seem rather daunting, but rest assured, there are some key things you can do to ensure you succeed in any group exercise:

  • Be sure to communicate your ideas clearly, calmly and logically.
  • Always remember to actively listen to others in your group – this means attending carefully, summarising and clarifying their ideas.
  • Make sure your opinions are heard but also take the time to enable other’s to contribute – facilitation is a sophisticated and much sought after skill!
  • Go back to basics – remember the art of conversation: keep appropriate eye contact, take turns, try not to interrupt and never raise your voice.

Get more top tips

To get you ready for the big day, we have developed an extensive Assessment Centre candidate preparation pack which includes expert tips from the assessors themselves and real-life examples of group-exercises.