Assessment Centres are designed to identify candidates who possess the essential skills and qualities to perform a particular job. Over a period of one or two days you will be expected to participate in a number of different activities either solely or in a group and assessed against the company's criteria. If you are required to stay overnight remain focused on why you are there and do not drink excessively. Unless stated dress smartly for the entire event. At the end of the programme candidates are generally exhausted but most find the experience rewarding.
What are the assessors looking for?
Employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate the skills and qualities required for the particular job in question. It is important to remember that you are assessed against their job criteria and not against each other. Some of the skills that assessors may look for are; communication, problem solving, team working, time management, influencing, negotiating, ability to listen, decision making, self confidence, drive, innovation.
What will the assessment centre entail?
The schedule of an assessment centre will vary from company to company. Some of the activities that you may be asked to participate in are:
Individual Interviews- normally longer and more in-depth than the first interview, functional experts may interview you to assess your level of relevant knowledge
Panel Interviews- remember to maintain eye contact with all the panel members when giving your responses
Presentations- you may be asked to present a topic assigned to you or on a topic chosen by you. It's worth preparing a framework prior to attending the assessment centre and practise your presentation skills.
Psychometric Tests- entails a series of timed tests in an examination environment aimed at measuring your verbal or numerical reasoning skills
- Personality questionnaires- ask you a lot of questions about how you think you would behave in certain situations. The employer is merely ascertaining your preferred behavioural style to verify this won't conflict with the requirements of the job
Role-playing- this exercise is asking you to adopt a designated role and negotiate with others to achieve a specific request
Report writing- in this case you're analytical and communication skills are being tested
Group tasks- the group may be asked to review a business case study, solve a problem with a stated objective or discuss a current topic. The tasks are designed to assess your ability to discuss and negotiate with other candidates.
In-tray exercise- in this exercise you are given a post tray belonging to an absent colleague and asked to prioritise the papers according to importance, this is designed to identify your ability to prioritise activities
How can I prepare?
Read all you can about the company including the job description and visit their website to get a flavour for their culture to identify skills the assessors may look for, demonstrate these skills wherever possible.
- Some employers may ask you to prepare material prior to the event and present it on the day, ensure that you research the topic and practice presenting it to increase your confidence.
- If you have not been asked to prepare any material, it's worthwhile planning a framework and practice presenting it prior to the assessment centre.
- If psychometric tests play a part, familiarize yourself with them by practicing as many as possible. See our psychometric tests page.
- During the assessment centre concentrate on remaining calm and confident.
- Make sure you understand the objectives of each of the activities and don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you have under performed in a task do not dwell on it, instead focus positively on the next task.
Useful booklets, online and multi media materials are available from the Careers, Employability and Skills. Details are available in Information Resources
The Careers, Employablity and Skills also holds relevant workshops throughout the academic year, advertised on MyFuture