Assessment centres

The majority of larger organisations and increasing numbers of medium sized companies use assessment or selection centres as the final stage of recruitment of graduates on to graduate schemes and students on to placement schemes. They can be from half a day to three days and involve individual and group exercises to assess skills and competencies that are hard to judge from interviews alone. These include:

  • Interpersonal skills such as teamwork, leadership, social awareness, listening and public speaking
  • Problem-solving, analytical skills, prioritising, decision making, planning, working under pressure and commercial awareness

You will find information on each of these skills in the Developing Employability Skills section. 

Being invited to an assessment centre means the employer already knows that you have many of the qualities they require and you’ve got a good chance of a job offer. You will be assessed against how you personally do, not in competition with the other candidates there. One assessment centre can result in several job offers if the candidates are good or none if no-one impresses. Working together as a team is likely to benefit everyone.

On the day, focus on each task in turn. Most people do better in some than others. Don’t dwell on any that don’t go well and move on to the next. Offers will be based on your all-round performance. If a task doesn’t go well, as long as it doesn’t reveal a weakness for a key competency in the job an offer may still be made.


Effective preparation can help you display the ‘best you’ but don’t try to completely change your personality and behaviour. It’s very hard to do and would you really want a job where you had to put on an act all the time? Be yourself. Useful preparation includes:

  • Reminding yourself of the employers’ selection criteria
  • Informing yourself about the company and its business sector
  • Updating yourself on current affairs
  • Preparing thoroughly for known tasks which can be general or ‘work simulated’ to mimic business activities. You'll find information on each of these activities in the left hand menu. 
  • If you have a disability that has led to you being provided with additional time during your studies for course work or exams you may want to notify the employer of that ahead of the assessment centre so that you can receive additional time for any assessed exercises. This decision of disclosure is purely your choice but additional time may help you give the fullest account of your abilities on the day. For more information see Declaring a Disability or talk it through with your Careers Consultant

Further Information

  • Refer to each of the sections that relate to each assessment centre task listed in the left hand side menu 
  • Log in to our secure zone to watch the 'At the Assessment Centre' DVD
  • Our workshops cover topics such as selection tests, interviews and assessment centres and feature graduate employers
  • Assessment Day has expert advice written by assessment centre designers and graduate employers on what to expect and how to perform well in each exercise. It also contains a free practice in-tray exercise, situational judgement tests and psychometric tests
  • AssessmentCentreHQ gives information to help you prepare for assessment centre activities
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Guide to Assessment Centres. This guide has been supplied by CIMA but the information can be applied to other disciplines
  • PSA Peugeot Citroen Assessment Centre Survival Guide. (Note that this information is older and may not represent the activities you may encounter at a current Peugeot Citreon assessment centre.)

 PDF document icon Assessment Centre Guide

You may also be asked to attend an interview as part of an assessment day. See the Interview Skills section to help you to prepare for this.

Page last updated: Monday 26 January 2015