Assessment Centres

The first step to succeeding at an assessment centre is to have a thorough understanding of what an assessment centre is, and why employers use them. Questions that we are often asked are: 

  • What is an assessment centre? 
  • What are employers assessing? 
  • How do I prepare? 

What is an assessment centre?

For many employers, especially large graduate recruiters, an assessment centre is the main part of the recruitment and selection process. It is made up of different activities so that employers can see how you react in real situations relevant to the role, not just inferring this from evidence you give in a face to face interview or application form (although these will be used as well). This Assessment Centre article from Prospects gives a comprehensive overview of a typical assessment centre. 

What are employers assessing? 

The exact criteria will vary from company to company, but most companies will have an assessment criteria / score card where they give you marks for each task. Similar to how your academics mark your essays, they will be looking for you to show particular competencies in line with those on their job description. 

At each stage of the process, they will give you a score for how you did in that particular section. 

What is good about this is that even if you don’t perform well in one task (eg "I think I messed up that written exercise!"), the scores will usually be averaged out from your other assessments. 

They are looking for people who can perform well overall. Don't assume you have not got the job because of one mistake - remember that they are looking for your working style and personal qualities, too. 

What can I expect?  

Assessment centres may last from a few hours to two days, but you should be told in advance the types of activities you will be involved in. You may be asked to take or re-take Psychometric Tests, so if you haven’t already, please see our e-learning and advice on these. Assessment Centres may also include several of the following activities:  

  • Situational Judgement tests 
  • Group exercises 
  • Case Studies, In-tray/e-tray exercises, and written exercises 
  • Interviews 
  • Presentations 
  • Role Plays 
  • Social events and Networking 

How do I prepare for an assessment centre? 

That may seem like a daunting list of activities to prepare for. The good news is that we have a range of e-learning and virtual activities that can help you practice and prepare for a confident assessment centre experience. 

  • Lack of familiarity and lack of preparation are two of the biggest reasons candidates underperform at assessment centres. Our assessment centres e-learning tool will guide you through what you need to know and give you an employer’s point of view
  • Practice more psychometric tests and e-tray tests 
  • The Assessment Day website offers a comprehensive set of free practice activities, and useful background information (e.g., what assessors are looking for) including role plays, and more. 
  • Choose the topics most relevant to you from our selection of learning resources on giving presentations - e.g. presenting online, body language, using your voice for impact, how to prepare, and more.
  • Our partnership with Graduates First gives you access to resources to help you prepare for Psychometric Tests, Situational Judgement Tests, and Games-based Assessments. 

How do I access Graduates First?

To register, download the Student Guide to Graduates First document for full instructions.

If you have graduated in the last three years and have registered on UniHub you can contact Careers Connect to allow you access to this test portal. Email careers@shu.ac.uk and we will register you on the system and send you your login details.

If you have previously registered with Graduates First as a student, once you graduate you will still be able to access the portal.  

How can I learn more? 

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