Assessment Centre Guide

What are assessment centres?

Employers are looking to test the skills of candidates to ensure that they will be a good fit for the role. A commonly used process to do this is an assessment centre. These are a series of exercises that assess different skills of the candidates. An assessment centre can be during a single day though sometimes it can be held over several days. Assessment centres are not usually used as initial screening processes. As such, they are often some of the final stages in the recruitment process. Therefore, they are meant to be difficult and to truly test the candidate. Assessment centres are often costly to run as they take time and resources, so candidates who are asked to attend are often the short-list of candidates who they think might the right one for the job.

An assessment centre is not a place in itself; it is a name given to a series of exercises. The exercises can take place at the employer's offices (if they have the space and facilities) or at a testing centre run by qualified assessors, or any conference space where candidates and assessors can get together.

An assessment centre is not a place in itself; it is a name given to a series of exercises. Such exercises can be taken any place, whether an office of the employer or a specific testing centre.

A CV and an interview were usually the only metrics involved in landing a job. But this method has often left employers discovering the lack of efficiency in this process. The typically complaints were missing the negative traits of the candidate and not crediting or acknowledging the positive skills in the candidate. Assessment centres have become a popular second-round selection process, coupled with interviews, that allow a candidate to showcase skills that are helpful for the role. Sometimes these skills are hidden, or not overtly expressed and are uncovered. As such, an assessment centre can help match the employer with the candidate that is best suited to the role based on their merits, and less on a subjective interpretation of their efficiency for the role.

Assessment centre basics

Most employers are quite happy to give you feedback after the assessment centre. In fact, some assessors might ask for your feedback on the day itself to help them with designing future assessments.

If you have been invited to attend an assessment centre, then you are likely to have been short-listed as a potential employee. It also means that the potential employer has found that assessment centres have proven themselves as a useful tool for finding the most suitable candidates. Assessment centres are attended by a group of candidates, likely all short-listed, all of which are being assessed on their fit for the role and their strengths and weaknesses. A good thing to remember is that an assessment centre is simply a mechanism to find candidates suitable for a role. You are not competing with the other candidates. If every candidate ticks all the right boxes, the employer will hire all of them. If none of the candidates meet the necessary standard, the employer will hire none of them.

Various components of An Assessment Centre

Here is a list of various components of an assessment centre. Click on the links to find our more about each possible component:

An examiner will score you during your time at an assessment centre. Typically, each candidate will have their own assessor during each exercise, and they will rotate positions throughout the day. Assessors will convene and discuss their various assessments with each other in order to determine the scoring. Remember, the assessors are looking for certain key competencies in the task. It is good to know what competencies they are before attending the assessment centre. This is usually known by the job posting, but can perhaps also be found out via the company’s HR department.

List of Typical Competencies
  • 1. Achieving results
  • 2. Communication
  • 3. Customer focus
  • 4. Influencing
  • 5. Leadership
  • 6. Problem solving
  • 7. Teamwork

If you are looking for the competencies the employer is assessing you on, the best place to look as at the job description. This will usually tell you what role it is and what they need. Failing that, you can always ask the company’s HR department if they have one, though this will not guarantee they will tell you.

Skills that employers are typically assessing at the assessment centre are: Achieving results, Communication, Customer focus, Influencing, Leadership, Problem solving, and Teamwork. Of course, each assessment centre will be looking for a potentially different skill set depending on the job role.

Essential Elements of Assessment Centres
  • 1. Key competencies being sought by the employer by which you will be asssessed
  • 2. Simulated scenarios using the key competenecies being sought by the employer
  • 3. Fair and unbiased assessment
  • 4. Standardised recording of behaviour

If you are ever in doubt, research what the company provides. Determine what position in the market that company adopts. It is good practise to familiarize yourself with your CV so you have something to say about yourself if you cannot think of anything.