Assessment centres

Assessment centres are an increasingly popular recruitment tool used by graduate recruiters. They involve activities that assess the match between the applicant’s qualities and the job selection criteria.

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Types of activities

Assessment centres can include interviews, short presentations, psychometric tests, and individual and group activities. They usually run from a half day to two full days.

Group activities are used to assess behaviour in teamwork situations. Groups usually consist of six to 10 applicants, led by a trained facilitator.

Activities are often timed and can include:

  • discussion on a set topic, which may involve reaching a consensus
  • finding a solution to a problem, which may involve role play
  • physical tasks (e.g. making a tower out of paper)
  • presentations.

To add complexity to the problem, you may be given incomplete or conflicting information. Alternatively, you may be deliberately given a large amount of information that can’t be completely analysed in the given time. Employers will usually say if you can ask them for additional information or clarification.

Assessment of activities

The activities are not necessarily designed to have a right or wrong answer. Instead, the assessor observes how you deal with challenges, pressure and other people.

Employers will:

  • evaluate your behaviour against the selection criteria
  • decide whether you’ve met their standard
  • decide whether you’ll continue to the next stage of the recruitment process.

How to perform well in assessment centres

Re-read your application and do some background research on the role, organisation and industry. It’s important to be thoroughly prepared and know what the assessors are looking for.

How to approach the activities

What the assessors are looking for