Assessment centres

Assessment centres give employers multiple methods of assessing your abilities. Compared to an interview alone, they give a fuller picture of your potential to do the job. This helps the employer make sure they have the best fit for the role.

You may be asked to engage in some or all of the following:

  • Resources and advice
    Links to free practice tests, assessment centre videos, employer insider tips and more.

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests can involve a combination of diagrammatic, verbal, and numerical tests.

They are usually conducted remotely prior to an assessment centre. Tests may be repeated at the assessment centre to confirm that you are the same person who completed them originally.  Do not be tempted to get outside help when you take the tests the first time around.

You may also be asked to take a personality test. Don’t try to ‘guess’ answers which might   impress the employer, simply answer the questions honestly. If you have researched the role before applying, it is unlikely that the test will show you to be an unsuitable candidate.

Taking practice tests will improve your performance significantly.

Example psychometric tests

Situational Judgement tests (SJTs)

SJTs assess your approach to situations encountered in the workplace. They typically present you with a written scenario and ask you to select the appropriate response from a multiple choice list.

They are designed to assess your potential across a number of competencies. Companies often use these tests to check for cultural fit*.

*Cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviours that make up an organization. This is demonstrated by your soft skills and personal goals.

Example SJTs

Role play

Role play is essentially situational judgement in real time. Instead of a written description the scenario is acted out with you taking part.

You should be ready to play one or more of a variety of parts alongside other candidates. These could include a manager, a customer or other stakeholder, depending on the type of employer you are being assessed by.

They are often used in customer service based roles to see how you communicate and problem-solve.

Example role plays

Individual tasks

In-tray/e-tray exercises

You will typically be presented with a scenario in which you arrive at your desk to find a number of tasks requiring your attention. You will be asked to rank these in order of priority, and to explain your reasons for doing so.

These tasks have strict time limits and are designed to show how well you can work under pressure, delegate or prioritise.

Example in-tray/e-tray exercises

Analysis exercises

You will be presented with information from various sources relating to a business problem. Your task is to assess the information, make recommendations on how to resolve the problem, and justify the reasoning behind it. You may be asked to give a presentation on your recommendations to a panel.

This enables employers to assess your ability to assimilate, critique and summarise data. It is popular with tax, accounting, and other roles which require complex data analysis or are research-based.

Example analysis exercises

Presentations

Presentations demonstrate your ability to analyse data and to present your findings in a concise and persuasive manner. They are also used to assess commercial awareness. They are therefore popular with retail and fast moving consumer goods employers. Roles such as Engineers, Project Managers and Analysts are also likely to be assessed in this way.

You may be asked to present on a subject related to the job, or to analyse a current event, discussing the impact of economic factors on the business, e.g. fiscal policy, spending and inflation and how these impact on customers, stakeholders and competitors.

You may be expected to have a grasp of business challenges which may not be addressed explicitly via the employer’s website etc.

You may get advance notice of the topic, or be presented with a brief on the day. Use audio-visual aids where appropriate/possible. Make absolutely sure your presentation doesn’t overrun - this will certainly count against you.

Practising presentation delivery and examples

Group tasks

These may include discussions, role play or practical exercises such as building a tower with only drinking straws and tape.

The focus is not on whether you complete the task. Assessors look for evidence of enthusiasm, original thought and the ability to explain ideas, negotiate and work effectively as a team. This is also a test of resilience, assertiveness and persistence - good for commercially driven roles.

Although you are being assessed with a group of people you are often not competing against them - many companies aim to recruit all suitable applicants. Approach the tasks with the aim of developing working relationships, rather than seeing the other candidates as competition.

You should be yourself - don't worry about taking a lead role unless that is your natural inclination.

If you do take the lead ensure you keep to time, reminding the group of how long they have left and checking in with any sub-groups.  This will demonstrate your time management skills.

You may want to ensure that your voice is heard and your ideas get used. This might cause conflict, and make it difficult for anyone to been seen in a positive light. Focus on the task, ensuring everyone has a clear role. Showing that you can listen as well as provide feedback and ideas, and also bring more reticent candidates into the discussion will give a favourable impression of your leadership potential.

Example group tasks

Informal events

The programme may include social events such as lunch or dinner with management and recent graduate employees. Your conduct at these events will also form part of the assessment. Use the time wisely to ask sensible questions and make a good impression.

Resources and advice

Practice tests

  • Assessment Centre HQ
    Includes a wide range of practice tests and general tips on successful interview and assessment centre performance.
  • Graduates First (UoB login required)
    Practice psychometric tests, aptitude tests, in-tray exercises and more. Available via studentcentral.
  • Practice Aptitude Tests
    A full range of sample tests with detailed feedback on your scores and individual answers.

Advice on tests and assessment centres

  • At the Assessment Centre (UoB login required)
    Videos showing students and graduates being assessed by actual recruiters in activities that commonly feature at assessment centres.
  • Beginners' Guide to Psychometric Tests (pdf)
    Helping you understand the process and purpose of psychometric testing, and put you in control of your preparation. Provided by JobTestPrep.
  • Learn Higher
    Tips and techniques for delivering presentations.
  • Saville Consulting
    Downloadable guides for undertaking analytical, comprehension and technical aptitude tests.

Assessment centres - insider tips

Graduate employer interview and assessment centre advice, shared by employees themselves.

 

*except where stated, all pdf resources courtesy of AGCAS and Gradconsult.

Career video player

Find out more about writing CVs and covering letters, and preparing for interviews and assessment centres. UoB login required.

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The Pi Shop

contentbox-exclaim-orange.gifMany employers use maths and numerical reasoning tests in their recruitment process. The Pi Shop can work with you to become more proficient in completing tests.
This service is open to ALL students, Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm. Aldrich Library (Ground floor)

Find out more about The Pi Shop's range of support services.

Interviews and assessment centres

Download our interviews and assessment centres leaflet (pdf) which includes all the content from these web pages.