What format will an Assessment Centre take?

It is not unusual for you to be interviewed either face-to-face or over the phone at the outset of your application. From these interviews the human resources personnel will select a group of six to twelve candidates to invite to the assessment centre where they will take part in a variety of exercises, which are being monitored and assessed by the assessors.

One recent trend is in the development of mass testing. This is done by videotaping candidates as they perform various exercises and by using objectively scored exercises. This permits the assessment of a much larger number of candidates per day as the scoring is done later and requires far less observation and administration.

Assesment Centre Procedure

Assessment centres are usually used after the initial stages of the selection process, because of the large amount of time and expense in conducting them, and they usually follow the initial job interview. Other measurements such as psychological tests may complement the selection process.

They are commonly held either on employers’ premises or in a hotel and are considered by many organisations to be the fairest and most accurate method of selecting staff. This is because a number of different selectors or assessors get to see you over a longer period of time. They have the chance to see…

  1. What you can do
  2. How you react to situations
  3. How you relate to others


…rather than what you say you can do, in a variety of situations which emulate your future role.
At the end of the assessment centre the assessors will select one or two candidates who will be invited for a final interview based on their scores.

Types of Exercises
There are certain assessment centre exercises that have been designed to make the assessment of certain behaviours and competencies much easier and the diagram below shows the most common types of exercises. With each exercise you will be given a brief from which to work and given a desired outcome. Each exercise has a specific time limit and you must work within the parameters assigned otherwise you will lose marks. It is essential that you remember they are assessing your competencies within the specified situation.

Assement Center Exercise

An in-tray or in-basket exercise asks to assume a particular role as an employee of a fictitious company and work through the correspondence in your in-tray. This exercise is designed to measure your ability to organize and prioritize work. In a presentation exercise, you will be given a topic or possibly a choice of topics and asked to make a presentation of around ten minutes, with five minutes at the end for questions. This is designed to measure your presentation skills including your ability to organise and structure the information and to communicate your points clearly and concisely.

Group discussion exercises involve you working with other candidates as part of a team to resolve a presented issue or deal with a critical incident. These exercises are designed to measure interpersonal skills such as group leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and group problem solving skills. Panel interviews or competency based interviews are regarded as a more objective means of assessing your suitability as you will be interviewed by three to five people and therefore the decision is not reliant on just one person's opinion. In addition, they are usually more structured than a one-to-one interview as the panel need to assess all of the candidates against the same criteria.

Use of Psychometric Aptitude Tests
Many Organisations also include psychometric tests within their assessment centres and these will be marked in the usual way and not by the assessors as they do not reflect your competencies. These tests typically include:

  1. Verbal reasoning,
  2. Numerical reasoning, and
  3. Abstract reasoning questions.


Preparing for these types of test is best done by practicing the types of questions that you will be asked on the day. This aspect of assessment centres is not dealt with in detail in this eBook and you should refer to the ‘Graduate Level Aptitude Tests’ & ‘Management Level Aptitude Tests’ eBooks.

You may also be interested in:

What is an Assessment Centre?
Who uses the Assessment Centre?
What are the Different Types of Assessment Centre?
What Format Does an Assessment Centre Take?
Who are the Assessors?
What are Assessment Centre Exercises?
What is an In-Tray Exercise?
What is a Presentation Exercise?
What are Group Exercises?
What are Role Play Exercises?

Pass Assessment Center