Assessment Centre advice

Assessment Centre ADVICE

As part of the selection process, you may be asked to attend an Assessment Centre. The actual assessment can take many forms but may include numerical, verbal and psychometric tests, along with a formal interview. They enable an employer to assess a candidate more accurately and efficiently - which is why the use of assessment centres is on the increase.

The thought of attending an Assessment Centre can be daunting, but in actual fact, it is a great opportunity to spend time with company representatives and enables you to get a real feel for the company culture - and to learn more about the position for which you are applying.

Your consultant will be able to advise you on the format on the assessment centre you are to attend.

Group discussion exercises

Group discussions are utilised to assess how you interact with others and to gauge your impact and influence when working in a team. It usually works like this: each candidate is allocated an assessor who assesses the quality of the discussion and, in particular, your individual contribution.

Typically you will be given a problem to solve or a discussion point which requires a collective decision to be taken. This is often presented in the form of a brief, which also includes a time limit when the result of the discussion will need to be conveyed to the assessors.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you make a good impression during this exercise:-

Take time to read the brief and make sure you understand it.

  • Don’t jump straight in with a forceful opinion. Making the first impression may not mean you make the right impression.
  • The discussion is not about how much you say - quality is more important than quantity.
  • You can show an awareness of other team members by how you listen to them and take their views into account.
  • If a team member is quiet, or has not been heard, support them by asking what they think the group should do.
  • Be mindful of the time limit and demonstrate your ability to manage time -but don’t be tempted to force a decision if time is running out.
  • If someone is dominating the discussion or talking over others, keep your cool and do not show your frustration. Manage the situation positively and try to encourage other ideas.
  • Although the objective is to influence others to your opinion, don’t stick to your opinion at all costs. If someone has a good suggestion, it is far better to concede and show enthusiasm.
  • Look for opportunities to show your leadership skills - offer to write down ideas, for example, or present back to the assessors on behalf of the group.
  • Ensure you take an active role in the discussion. If you sit quietly and don’t contribute or demonstrate your management and team working skills, you will score poorly.

In-tray exercises

This exercise will assess whether you can cope under pressure and your ability to plan, organise and prioritise. So, if you’re given a pack full of information that causes panic on first sight, don’t worry - that’s the whole point.

The first thing to do is to take a deep breath. Then, read the brief, focus on the objective - and work to the timescale.

Not all the information you have been given will be relevant to the task, so the key to success is to remember the objective and prioritise accordingly.

Having completed the task, you may be asked to present back to the assessors and give the reasons for your decisions, so as you do the exercise make brief notes to remind you of your thought process.


The presentation is designed to test your ability to lead, influence, present and deliver a message to an audience. To help you deliver a successful presentation remember to:

  • Stick to the time limit. If the brief states a 10 minute presentation, don’t run over your allotted time.
  • Rehearse your message before you deliver it. Write down notes to prompt you, but don’t write it out in full and read from a script.
  • If you are in a group situation, ensure you stand up and deliver the presentation formally.
  • Last but not least - speak slowly and clearly to ensure your audience can hear you.


When you attend an assessment centre, you are being assessed from the moment you arrive to moment you leave. To ensure you present yourself in the most positive way, remember to be professional at all times - during both the tests and the breaks.

Use your time constructively to demonstrate your confidence in different ways. At lunch, for example, talk to the other candidates and build relationships with the assessors (without being cheesy).

Be enthusiastic and show you’re interested in the job for which you are applying. If you are given an opportunity to ask questions, tailoring them to suit the situation.

Other candidates are not the enemy so don’t try to undermine them or show them up in front of the assessors. Instead, focus on you and your performance. And if you think you have not done well in a particular exercise, don’t write yourself off - you will be assessed on your whole performance.

Candidate Preparation

The Assessment Centre is one of those situations where the more you put in, the more you get out. So, taking time to prepare for the assessment is definitely time well spent. Interviewers will be impressed to find you know about their expansion plans, for example, the company results, their position in the market etc. Plus, it will also help you to confirm whether this is the right company and the right opportunity for you.

Preparations usually include:

  • A store, hotel or site visit
  • An internet search
  • A SWOT analysis
  • A competitor analysis
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