Assessment Centres Tips

If you have made it to an assessment centre, you are most likely at the final stage of the process. Getting this far will also mean that you have likely beaten well over 90% or more of the competition so it’s a big achievement to get this far.

The assessment centre is a day where a group of candidates will go through a number of assessments in the same location. There will be a variety of different assessments so you have the opportunity to demonstrate a larger collection of skills than you can possibly show in a single face-to-face interview.

The most common assessments include:

  • Traditional interviews

  • More psychometric testing

  • Group exercises

You could also be asked to prepare some sort of presentation before the day.

The interviews and testing are exactly like as if they were at any other stage of the process so you can find tips for them in other parts of this series. In this post I shall go through some simple Group Exercise tips instead.

The Group Exercise

The Group Exercise is what the company will be using to test your teamwork and communication skills. You will be given a brief for a task, and you will have to come up with a business idea or a solution to a problem within a short duration of time and likely have to present this at the end.

It is likely that there will be an assessor assigned to every member of the group so your every move will be scrutinised. This means you have to keep your body language under control too. If you hear an idea and react positively, this could be undone if you react negatively with your body language.

At the start of the exercise, try to take up a leadership position in the group if you want to demonstrate your leadership abilities. Multiple people in the group may do this so what is important is to assign yourself a role. This could be planning the time to be spent on each phase of the task and making sure the group sticks to this, or it could be making notes from the discussion on a whiteboard. These sorts of roles will keep the group heading towards the end goal and impress the assessors.

Now the exercise has got going, most of the work is now communicating with your team. Everyone will have good ideas so make sure to demonstrate that you are a good listener and do not talk over anyone. Respond to points made by the team and build on their ideas. A well-motivated group works effectively together so even responding to an idea initially with “Oh that sounds like a great idea” and being the motivator will reflect well on yourself. Then try and build on their ideas and you will come across as a proper team player. Despite this you will need to contribute a lot of your own ideas as well, the point is just to find the right balance and not dominate.

An effective team member will try and utilise the skills of the entire group. If someone in the group has been quiet and has not contribute much already then say something like “John, what do you think of this idea” and bring them into the discussion.

Importantly, as well as showing off how well you can communicate, do make sure that the task is completed to a high quality. Ensure this by keeping track of time and making sure the group spends a sufficient amount of time on each element of the task.

If the exercise ends in a presentation, it is good to put yourself forward to speak for some of the presentation. Even if it is not your biggest strength, the assessor will be happy that you have thrown yourself into the task and it will be a good experience for you too.

General tips for the day

You will be assessed from the minute you step in through the door through until the moment you leave. This will be tiring, but extra effort needs to be put in to keep up appearances. Firstly, it seems pretty obvious but dress professionally and be on time. Walk in as the most confident version of yourself and try and be full of energy when interacting with the receptionist to sign in. It really will make a difference. While coming across as confident is important make sure you be yourself. If you are pretending to be someone that you’re not this could come across not perfectly so just aim for yourself with a bit of added enthusiasm.

This does carry on through the day rather than just at the beginning. There might be a lunchtime session where you will have the chance to network with other candidates and current employees of the business. Refrain from any negativity in this section still, even if you have had a terrible day. You may be being watched and if the company are properly feeling rigorous in testing you they may well have some of their employees to pose as other candidates as a bit of a trap.

Some activities (and definitely the interview!) will need you to show that you’ve done appropriate preparation for the day. Make sure you have researched the company and the role inside out and refer back to the job description.

Remember that the day involves multiple stages. If you screw up the first session of the day do not let this get to you. Continue to back yourself and a good performance in the rest of the day can easily make up for this.

The company could be looking to hire any number of candidates from the group of those at the assessment centre. Try not to go out to compete with everyone but instead focus on your own performance. This of course will reflect better on yourself in the group exercise.


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