What is an assessment centre?

Many companies run a series of extended selection procedures, often called assessment centres. These centres allow organisations to assess the candidate’s ability and whether they possess the skills to join their organisation. Also referred to as selection centres, they present candidates with a mixture of online tests, group/individual exercises, case studies and presentation exercises.

This type of process usually lasts a day or two. They take place following the first round of interviews and before the final selection. They are commonly held either on employers’ premises or in a hotel and for many companies they prove a successful way of selecting the right graduates to join their schemes.

What is involved?

Psychometric tests

Employers today are using psychometric tests more than ever in the graduate selection process. They can involve the following:

Online aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are a perfect way for an employer to assess your overall intelligence through numerical, verbal and reasoning exercises. You will be required to answer a number of questions under exam conditions, usually within a 30-minute period.

The tests normally occur before the first interview as a way of measuring whether you can continue the application process. Read more in-depth information and take sample tests for Numerical Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning tests.

Personality tests

These assess your personal qualities through your responses to a number of questions or statements. They can aid the employer in measuring your ability to handle situations, your emotions, motivations and gauge your overall outlook to work. Get some top tips for personality tests and take a practice personality test.


You may be expected to prepare a small presentation on the day. Introduce yourself at the start of the presentation (even if you have already been introduced to your audience) and use notes as a prompt, not a script. Brushing up on PowerPoint skills prior to the assessment day is a must.

In-tray exercises

With this kind of exercise a candidate will be asked to handle a typical pile of papers that simulate what you might encounter in the role. These papers may include letters, internal memos or emails, reports, ‘junk mail’ and so on, and it is up to the candidate to deal with and prioritise them accordingly.

Group assessments

These involve completing a task or activity within a small group of your fellow candidates. The way in which you perform individually and as part of the group is monitored by assessors.  Find out more about how to tackle group assessments.

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