Some employers use combinations of challenging group activities, interviews and testing to evaluate each candidate's suitability to their selection criteria.
There is no set format and it may vary in length from half a day to two full days and typically include a combination of a case study, group task, written task, oral presentation and/or social event.
How to prepare
The assessment centre is a preview of how you will behave in a professional work environment. You want to be relaxed but professional.
- Familiarise yourself with the different types of tasks and tests,
- Know yourself: list your strengths and limitations in relation to the job,
- Research the selection criteria that you will be evaluated against,
- Be prepared, don't arrive flustered or late,
- Dress as you would for an interview,
On the day
- Arrive with a positive attitude! Introduce yourself to other candidates you meet,
- Stay relaxed, listen to other people, be friendly and co-operative,
- Try not to be intimidated by others, concentrate on demonstrating your own strengths,
- Pay attention to time limits and avoid getting stuck on one question,
- Listen carefully to instructions and ask if you are unsure about the task,
- Many organisations value diverse work styles; don't make assumptions about the way you should respond.
Examples of activities
Case Study or 'in tray exercise', a number of documents are given to you to sort through, prioritise and action. You will be assessed on your ability to plan, prioritise, delegate and problem solve.
You are given information in the form of report(s), text, tables or graphs which you are expected to read, comprehend and write a report. You will be assessed on your ability to plan, organise and communicate in writing.
These can be in a variety of formats such as a group discussion on a topic, that needs a decision. Group members will be appointed roles, such as chairperson or facilitator. You will be assessed on participation, leadership, co-operation, and communication skills.
You may be asked to speak for a specific time on a topic. If you have a choice, pick a topic you are enthusiastic about. You will be assessed on your ability to communicate orally, under pressure.