How To: Handle Assessment Centres

By Career Savvy

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Many employers are no longer satisfied with assessing you purely in a one-to-one interview, as this prevents them from gaining an insight into how you work alongside others. This is why an assessment centre, a day spent completing a range of related tasks, is a popular method when it comes to screening candidates. Therefore it’s important for you to know what’s expected of you when attending an assessment centre, so you have the best chance of achieving the job. The tasks you will be required to complete vary according to the employer, but below are examples of the most commonly used to test candidates, with some tips on how to handle each one.

Group Exercise

After you’re assigned to a small group you will be given a task that requires you to collectively reach a solution and present your idea to the rest of the candidates. The skills the assessors will be looking out for are teamwork and problem-solving. Therefore make sure you are making an effort to contribute as much as possible, without bulldozing over everybody else in the group. Remember that this task is not about whether the end result is right or wrong, but how you worked together to reach the solution.


Depending on the company you’re applying for, you will either be asked to complete the preparation for this before the assessment centre, or you will be given some time on the day. Either way, the topic you will be given will be familiar to you already. This task is aimed at testing you on your ability to understand and present back information related to the job/industry you’re applying for. Assessors will use this part of the assessment centre to see how confident and effective you are when you work alone. To do well you need to ooze confidence, present your information clearly and concisely, as well as prove your knowledge of the job on offer.

Psychometric Tests

You may have already completed psychometric tests online, but you will have to complete written ones at the assessment centre. You may face a variety of tests: numerical, verbal reasoning and personality. Each one assesses your suitability for the role via different methods, with the overall aim being to determine your process of thought and how you make decisions. The only way you will do well at this part of the assessment centre is if you practice as much as possible. Note, the written psychometric tests are significantly harder than those online, so don’t think you can get away with just practicing one or the other.


Whether you face a competency-based or a technical interview (or both) will depend on the type of role you’re applying for. You should prepare for this as you would for any other face-to-face interview: research the company and role thoroughly, think about your answers to the questions they are likely to ask and come up with some of you own questions to ask. You could face more than one interviewer and at least one of them is likely to be from the department/team you will be working with if you succeed. Therefore it’s really important to make a good first impression and to connect with your interviewer(s) in order to convince them that you would be a good fit for the company. For more interview advice, see the following:

So if you’re invited to an assessment centre, be sure to check which tasks you will be facing and be aware of what skills and qualities the assessors will be looking for. Try not to let the other candidates phase you as employers will often choose a number of impressive applicants from the same assessment centre to go through to the next stage. Therefore, instead of worrying about competing against other candidates, it’s far more important to focus on showing the competencies required, especially if there are multiple positions available.

Have you ever completed an assessment centre? What tasks were you asked to complete? What have you learnt from the experience? 

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