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Assessment centres

Increasingly, many companies are turning to Assessment Centres as a way of choosing and selecting candidates. They run typically for one to two days, often taking place on the employer's premises or a hotel. You will be invited along with other potential candidates and asked to take part in a series of activities, tests and exercises. The Assessment Centre stage may come after the first round of interviews, although some employers use them as an initial selection process.

Assessment Centres can seem quite daunting, as it is unlikely you will know what exercises and activities you will be asked to do on the day. However, you can prepare yourself by thinking about what the employer will be looking for during each task. This section covers some of the likely tasks and activities.

Get further advice, tips and information on Assessment Centres.

In-tray exercises

With a heaped in-tray or inbox, you will need to make a decision on each item, deciding priorities, drafting replies or identifying work to be delegated.

Looking for: The ability to prioritise work and demonstrate communication, analytical and planning skills

Do: Go through the whole tray before dealing with items

Don't: Run out of time

Practical tasks and exercises

As a group, candidates may be asked to use materials or equipment to make something or solve a problem.

Looking for: How the group interacts; involvement, communication, team working

Do: Work with the best ideas, even if they are not yours; keep to time

Don't: Take over or fade into the background.

Group Discussions/Role plays

Looking for: Contribution to team; your influence, creativity, time management and organisational skills

Do: Be enthusiastic and encourage others. Be positive about other people's contributions.

Don't: Take over but don't stay too quiet either!

Aptitude tests

These are a way for employers to evaluate your capabilities and see how you react to different situations. They usually form part of your overall assessment, alongside your interview, application form, qualifications and references.

The tests can cover a number of areas, such as your numeracy skills and your personality - for example, how you work in a team or whether you have leadership qualities.

To help employers assess your personality, you may be asked to complete a personality inventory. This will be a list of questions for you to fill out, which will then be interpreted by a trained consultant. Your results will be measured against a list of personality types. Employers use a range of psychometric tests including ones published by SHL try an SHL practice test and get feedback. You can also try the BBC Science and Nature website for a similar personality test.

Get more information on Psychometric Tests.

Further Resources

Prospects: Assessment Centres

Targetjobs: Assessment Centres