Careers Service

Assessment centres

What to expect at assessment centres, types of exercise, and top tips for performing well

Assessment centres are used as an objective and accurate method of selection. During Covid-19 they were conducted online and some employers may continue to do this. This means your proficiency in communicating and relating to people online is important. 

Assessment centres usually take place towards the end of the recruitment process, after online tests and, most likely, a first-round, telephone or online, interview. You’ll take part in a range of exercises designed to test your suitability for the role and organisation, so recruiters get a clear picture of what you can do.  

Employers often tell you what criteria they will measure you against. You’re not competing against the other applicants, you’re aiming to meet the standard set by the employer.   

They will look at your performance across the whole assessment centre - so if one exercise doesn’t go particularly well don’t worry too much about it, and don’t let it put you off your stride!  And, even if you’re feeling drained, keep your focus and stay motivated – this will be noticed. 

Before the assessment centre, remind yourself of the attributes this employer wants by looking again at the job description and person specification. These should give a good insight into the skills they will look for at the assessment centre. Read through your original application so it’s fresh in your mind, as you may be asked for more detail. 

Types of exercise  

These exercises are common in graduate assessment centres. 

Find out more: 

Assessment Centre Advice - TARGETjobs

Includes articles on written exercises and virtual assessment centres 

Evaluation at assessment centres film University of Edinburgh login required

Hiring managers explain how candidates are assessed