Assessment Centres - Top Tips For Job Applicants

Posted on: 29 July 2016

Assessment centres are being used increasingly by recruitment agencies and employers to make sure they hire the very best applicants.  So, what do assessment centres involve and how do you prepare for one?

The purpose of assessment centres

Assessment centres offer recruiters a chance to evaluate candidates in a uniform way and on a measurable scale.  They also allow recruiters to further prune their original shortlist down to the most suitable for the vacancy that they are looking to fill.

Assessment centres allow the testing of multiple applicants in one session, saving the recruitment agency time and money.  Skills, personalities and characteristics can be monitored, measured and aligned with the ethos of the company recruiting, and any weaknesses or strengths that were not obvious at interview can be brought out by way of role plays and more in depth assessment processes.

What to expect

Traditional assessment centres involve a number of different elements including:

  • psychometric tests
  • social skills
  • presentations
  • interviews
  • group exercises
  • in-tray exercises
  • role play exercises.

Group exercises

Group exercises are designed to test your teamwork skills and can involve debates, discussions or completing a task.  The recruiter will look to see how you behave; do you take charge, are you a shrinking violet, are you overly confrontational with other personalities?  Always bear in mind that it's not a competition with the others in the group; the recruiter is looking to see how everybody performs against the company standard.

In-tray exercises

These exercises are designed to test the candidates on their organisational and prioritising skills.  You will be provided with a range of routine tasks to perform, and the recruiter will look to see how you fare on time perception and management, allowing the assessor to see how you will perform in a real-world situation.

Psychometric testing

These tests usually have a time limit and are designed to test your aptitude in certain areas, such as verbal skills and numeracy.  It's important to work through the questions quickly and provide comprehensive answers.  These tests are something that you can prepare for, and practice books can be bought from most good book shops or online.

Social skills

This assessment begins as soon as you step through the door and are greeted by those in charge of running the assessment centre.  It's important to be professional but try to relax into your new environment as quickly as possible.  Some assessment centres take place over two days and involve a stay in a hotel as well as a meal in a group.  You should aim to come across as able to relax and enjoy yourself, but be careful what image you project, and don't be tempted to calm your nerves by drinking too much alcohol!


Presentations are a 'must-have' skill in the corporate world.  This is your opportunity to show that you are confident and articulate and can produce a structured, concise presentation with little knowledge of the topic.  Again, presentation skills are something you can practice before you attend the assessment centre.  Put together a short presentation and deliver it to family and friends, asking them for an honest critique of your style.

One-to-one interviews

When you have completed all the other tasks at the centre you will have the opportunity to talk to the recruiter directly and impress on an individual basis.  This is your chance to show that you've researched the vacancy and that you understand the company's services and the products they offer.  Have lots of interesting questions prepared for the interviewer to demonstrate that you've done your homework and taken the time and trouble to prepare thoroughly.

In conclusion

Assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular with recruiters.  Although not every assessment centre will involve all these different types of tests, but if you prepare thoroughly for every eventuality, you'll feel more confident and this will come across when you get there.


Bobby's Business Blog

Hello, my name is Bobby and this is my business blog. I am by no means a professional businessman, but I do like to take ideas and try to develop them. Even though I have taught myself everything I know, I have had a little success. I got interested in developing different forms of business when I visited my Uncle who runs a large company which buys and sells and provides many different services. He was a real inspiration. He encouraged me to start a power washing business, then I started cleaning cars for a living and now I am thinking about getting into the technology sector. I hope you enjoy my blog.