Home > Employment > What do I need to know about Assessment Centres?

What do I need to know about Assessment Centres?

Tomorrow evening (29th Nov) we have an Assessment Centres Practice session focusing on group exercises. Group Exercises are one of the most common tasks used at assessment centres. In this workshop there is the opportunity to take part in a number of different exercises with feedback on your performance and how to improve, to help you be successful when in a real assessment centre. But what else do you need to know about Assessment Centres? Read our previous post below to find out more.

So, you’ve been invited to an Assessment Centre? What you should do now?


Your first reaction is likely to be one of excitement and rightly so – to get through to this stage of the recruitment process means you will have beaten out a whole host of other candidates. Unfortunately this excitement can be short lived closely followed by nerves kicking in. You’ve done so well but now you are going to have to go head-to-head with the competition, outperforming them in a series of tasks, proving that you are the best person for the job. But fear not, help is at hand. The following hints and tips will give you the edge you need to stand out from the crowd.

•    Read your invitation carefully – Have you been asked to prepare a presentation in advance? Are you given details of the activities that you will be doing on the day? How long will you be there for? Do you need to bring any documentation with you? The invitation should contain all of this information along with contact information should you have any further questions.

•    Remember this is an ASSESSMENT centre! This might sounds like an obvious one but you are being assessed- not just in the activities but from the moment you step through the door. Always be professional, be polite to whoever is at reception and ask appropriate questions to employees during lunch and coffee breaks. Just because it is a ‘break’ doesn’t mean people aren’t watching you and any member of staff could be asked to input on what they thought of candidates.

•    The Group Exercise – Often the scariest task as you may come up against some dominant personalities but remember, a true leader isn’t the one who shouts the loudest. Consider the different roles you can take within a group; being the time keeper gives you the opportunity to interject with updates on how long is left, being the secretary shows you can collate information and provide an overview of topics discussed. Assessors won’t look for who says the most but who adds the most value. Look out for others who haven’t spoken and ask for their input – this shows leadership and teamwork.

•    The Interview – Think about what questions you might be asked in your one to one interview. Look back on the job description and what skills are required for the role. It is likely that you will be asked competency based questions about these skills, e.g. “Give an example of when you have successfully worked in a team”. Try to think of an academic and non-academic example of how you have used each skill required.

•    Do your research – It is vital you know not just about the company you are applying to but also about its competitors. Possessing excellent market knowledge is a sure way to stand out from other candidates. Why do you want to work for this company and what makes it special compared to others in the same field?

•    Don’t give up – Each task is likely to have a different assessor and you will be graded independently on each one. This means that if one task doesn’t go well all is not lost, try to put it behind you and do your best in the next activity.

•    Practice – Having a go at the different activities before the day will help with your nerves. The University holds practice assessment centres which will give you an insight into what to expect on the day.


There are more resources on Assessment Centres on Jobs and Careerson StudyNet including useful videos, like the one below, which breaks the day up into sections (Ice Breaker Exercise, Prepared Presentation, Role Play, Group Discussion, etc.)


Assessment Centre Video



Helen Meyer photograph

Helen Meyer is a Careers Advisor in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

  1. 24/05/2013 at 19:43

    Thanks for posting this valuable article here in term of assessment. Group task a best for applicants to make them frank and show up their ability to handle the task in between many and how fast. It can produce great result in short time.

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