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Assessment centres

An assessment centre can be part of the recruitment process, and is where recruiters look to find out more your skills and behaviour by asking you to take part in a series of practical, work related exercises. Typically this will consist of a mixture of tasks that relate to the role you’re applying for (you could almost see it as doing the job for the day!) and could include any of the following, for example: presentation, group task, case study, written exercise or networking session.

Read on for some tips about general assessment centre performance. See the resources below for details on specific tasks, e.g. preparing for a presentation.

Communication

  • Be pleasant and professional with everyone you meet. Employers are observing your ability to communicate effectively and they’ll be looking at your eye contact and body language, and how well you use appropriate professional language.
  • Assessment centres often include lunch and coffee breaks and, although these are seen as the 'informal' parts of the day, you should remain professional. This is a great chance to demonstrate your communication skills and show that you can make a good impression.
  • To show your own group working and interpersonal skills, treat the other candidates as team members during the tasks.

Confidence

  • Get involved! Employers are looking for candidates who can present themselves professionally and confidently, so it’s important to make sure you’re heard. If not, the recruiter can't see what you have to offer! Join in and share your opinions where appropriate, but remember not to dominate the conversation, and instead listen and encourage others to have their say.
  • The employer wants to see that you could represent the organisation well to a client, and will usually ask you a number of questions. Answer confidently, and respond calmly and constructively when your ideas are challenged.
  • If you know there will be an interview involved, see our interview advice here.

Content

  • Listen to instructions you’re given at the start of a task, and take into account any information that’s provided. By fully understanding what’s expected of you, this will help you improve your performance in each task.
  • Managing your time is key. Plan ahead so that you have enough time to complete each task. If it’s a group activity, try to agree with the rest of your group how you might split the tasks between you, to make the best use of the time available.
  • Remember that the recruiter wants to see how your skills match against what they’re looking for. They’re not scoring you against the other candidates.

You will normally be told when to expect a decision from the recruiter, which can sometimes be at the end of the day itself. It’s worth thinking about how it went afterwards and what could have been improved, as well as what you feel went well. This will be helpful when preparing for future assessment centres.

Find out more

  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment with a Careers Consultant
  • Visit the Knowledge Bank on QMPlus for further advice and information
  • Visit our blog for the latest posts on assessment centres, interviews and much more
  • Watch an assessment centre on DVD (available in the Careers & Enterprise Centre)
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