What happens at an assessment centre?

Meg Timbrell
Content & Social Media Manager
3 min read

What is an assessment centre?

Assessment centres are used by some employers to prove an applicant's skills and see their suitability for a role. You'll be invited to attend an assessment day at a centre, usually after you've passed the first round of your application. The content of your day will vary based on what industry you're applying for.

What happens on an assessment day?

You'll usually participate in a combination of group exercises and individual tests.

According to a survey run by AssessmentDay, 92% of those surveyed faced a 'group exercise' as part of their assessment day.

If you're looking for a longer read, check out Assessment Day's comprehensive free PDF guide (33 pages!)

Different types of exercises

Group exercises

The assessors won't necessarily be looking for the person who is the loudest, but the person who can make valid and impactful points, show initiative and effective collaboration.

As a group, you'll be given a topic to discuss. This is your opportunity to share your opinions, but also demonstrate your teamwork skills.

Role playing

You'll be placed in a scenario, where you'll have to demonstrate how you would react during it. Sometimes professional actors are used to make situations more realistic. You'll be tested on skills like calmness under pressure and assertiveness. You may encounter a dissatisfied customer, an angry co-worker, or your boss ticking you off for a mistake you've made. You'll usually receive some background information before going in, and be tested on your ability to keep friction to a minimum.

Numerical reasoning

If maths isn't your strong suit, refresh your basic maths skills like fractions, ratios, percentages, and estimates. Practice is everything with the numerical reasoning section. There are plenty of practice sites to help you with this, including numericalreasoningtest.org. During this part of the test, you'll usually be given data or graphs which you'll have to answer questions to, or have to draw conclusions from.

Verbal reasoning

For the verbal reasoning section of an assessment day, you'll be required to read a passage and make certain deductions from this. Think back to reading comprehensions during English at school for this. You might be given true or false statements to answer, or be required to find information from large volumes of text.

There are plenty of practice sites to help you practice verbal reasoning, such as verbalreasoningtest.org.

Logical reasoning

Your problem-solving ability is at test during the logical reasoning part of an assessment day. Quite often, you'll be tested non-verbally with shapes, numbers and patterns. Check out the video below for a sample question:

Critical thinking

A critical thinking test requires you to make inferences when faced with arguments or different viewpoints. This test will require you to be able to analyse critically, and form sound judgements, evaluating each argument presented to you. Job roles in Law often require critical thinking tests.

Personality tests

Psychometric personality tests can play a role during assessment days. Personality tests are a bit different to other tests, as technically there are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. It's more so that your employer can figure out what kind of person you are. You'll usually have to tick boxes that could range from 'not likely to' to 'most likely to', or 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree'. When answering these questions, think about your professional persona more than how you may react at home.

Inbox/in-tray exercise

For this exercise, you'll complete it digitally or physically, and be given 10-20 tasks/emails - you'll have to prioritise these in an order of your choice. You'll be assessed on which ones you decide to prioritise and the reasons for your decisions. For example, one of these emails might be a customer complaint, and another might be a personal email containing a family emergency.

Finally...

These are just some examples of the top tests that assessment days may throw at you, but there are many more - and they'll of course all depend on the nature of the job role you're applying for.

Whether you're successful or not, make sure to ask for feedback from the employer following the assessment day. Most employers will be happy to provide you with this, and it may help your future chances at assessment days like these.

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