Some organisations use assessment centres in their recruitment process. They may last one or two days or even longer and are usually held after the first round of interviews and before the final selection. They may also be used as an initial selection process. You will be asked to engage in a number of activities and exercises during which multiple assessors will observe and rate your performance.
Assessment centres typically include a number of elements:
Social/informal events: where you meet a variety of people, including other candidates, the assessors, recent graduates and the wider staff and management team. Be aware that you are being assessed at all times. Be friendly but not over-familiar. There may be free drinks on offer - resist the temptation to over-indulge. For more advice, see group activities.
Information sessions: provide more detail about the organisation and the roles available. Listen carefully, as the information provided may be useful during the rest of the day.
Tests and exercises: designed to reveal your ability and potential. Assessors measure you against a set of competencies. Each exercise is designed to assess one or more of these areas. Do not worry if you think you perform badly at any stage - it is likely that you will have the chance to compensate later on. Find out if your careers service offers practice aptitude test sessions or presentation skills workshops. For information on case study and in-tray tests, see exercises.
If you have a disability that may affect your performance in any of the exercises mentioned, discuss the matter with the employer before attending the assessment centre.
A typical assessment day
Research the organisation’s website - particularly the recruitment and other relevant information.
Draw up a list of your main strengths, focusing on those most relevant to what you have applied for.
Think of questions you may want to ask.
Plan to arrive in good time for the start of the assessment centre.
Converse with other candidates - this will help when it comes to group exercises later.
What to expect
You will be in a group of people that can vary in size from several people to a much larger group.
You may be individually interviewed and asked to take part in a number of exercises, including reasoning tests.
The exercises will be based on the type of work for which you have applied.
Other exercises, usually undertaken with a number of other candidates, may take the form of an in-tray or case study exercise, a presentation and a group discussion.
You are not being assessed on what you know but on how you think. Be yourself.
Listen carefully to the instructions given to you at the start of the day and always read the information thoroughly.
The assessment centre will give you a number of chances to show your strengths and meet their criteria.
Stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
You are being measured, not against other candidates, but against certain criteria.
You will learn...
How you react in different situations. You may find you have previously unidentified strengths.
About the company you are applying to.
More about the position you are applying for.
The following are examples of the skills and traits that selectors are likely to be judging you on at the assessment centre:
motivation and enthusiasm;
Written by Jill Barrett, Dublin Institute of Technology
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.