Assessment Centres

Many large employers use assessment centres as one of the final stages of their recruitment process. An assessment centre is a combination of tasks and activities that test your suitability for the job. If you’ve been invited to an assessment centre it’s a fantastic achievement, it means that the employer believes you have the potential to succeed in the role. They can seem daunting, but with good preparation you can improve your chances of success.

Top Tips

  • Do your homework – Read employer websites, social media and key publications such as, business plans, annual reports and corporate social responsibility strategies.  Research current industry and sector developments and role requirements. Be prepared to share your views and ideas. 
  • Dress to impress – plan what you’ll wear in advance. Select something smart and professional, that you feel confident in, that is also comfortable and practical, and won’t distract you on the day. 
  • Be ready – plan your journey ahead of time, get a good night’s sleep and fuel yourself with a good breakfast (avoid alcohol and too much caffeine) 
  • Be yourself – you’ll be nervous but try to relax and professional. Make a good impression by arriving early and turning off your phone. Throughout the day be friendly, polite, approachable (breaks, lunches and tours of the premises count too!) 
  • Get stuck in – throw yourself into the activities however strange or silly. They’ve been designed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate how you work with others, solve problems, prioritise, make decisions and communicate and to enable employers to assess how you meet the competency framework/job criteria.  
  • Disclose disabilities - tell the employer in advance if you have a disability, this enables them to make any reasonable adjustments required. 

Graduate assessment centres vary from employer to employer. Assessment days can be held at an employer’s offices or a hotel. They can last anywhere from half a day to 2 days, requiring an overnight stay. You’ll be joined by a group of other candidates and put in situations that will allow you to demonstrate key workplace skills.

You’ll be assessed by HR specialists and team leaders against job competencies and skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, task management and leadership, through a variety of activities such as group work, presentations, case studies, written tests, psychometric tests and e-tray exercises.   

Target jobs assessment centre activity guidance:

Case studies

Written exercises

Presentations

Group exercises

In-tray exercises


  • Clarify any questions with the graduate recruitment team.
  • Complete and practice any additional material you are provided with.
  • Practice potential exercises. 
  • Revisit the job description, person specification, competency frameworks and review your CV and application form to identify the skills the employer is looking for. 
  • Read the organisation’s website, social media and key publications e.g. business plans, annual reports, and corporate social responsibility strategies.
  • Research, news, industry trends and sector development opportunities. 
  • Be prepared to share your views and ideas.
  • Plan your journey in advance considering alternative routes and forms of transport in case of potential problems. 
  • Choose your outfit in advance selecting something smart and professional, that you feel confident in, that is also comfortable and practical, and won’t distract you on the day. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep, have a good breakfast and arrive early ready to impress.
  • Check out Target Jobs guidance on How to be your best self at assessment centres
  • Don't forget to remain professional throughout the process, even when on breaks, and during lunch - follow Target jobs guidance on social etiquette for graduate assessment centres

Resources

Target Jobs - Graduate guide to Assessment Centres 

Prospects- Assessment centre guidance