Assessment centres

Been invited to an assessment centre? This is a great opportunity for you – and the employer – to find out if you’re right for the role.

Assessment centres are often used by employers as part of the recruitment process. A group of candidates are brought together to perform various group and individual tasks – usually including an interview. This gives the employer a more rounded view of the candidates than just an interview. 

How to impress at an assessment centre 

  • Be as prepared as you would be for an interview.  

  • Remember that you are being assessed against the competencies and the organisation’s values – not against the other candidates.   

  • The assessors want to see how you perform in real situations – so be yourself and join in with enthusiasm. 

If you would like to practise, AssessmentDay have produced a useful Assessment Centre Guide which has information about different exercises and some examples you can download. If you’ve been invited to a virtual assessment centre TargetJobs have information on what you can expect. 

Group exercises 

Assessment centres usually include one or more group exercises, they often fall into four main categories: 

  • Discuss a general topic such as 'The national speed limit on UK motorways should be higher.'  

  • Debate a work-related problem and reach a joint decision. 

  • Decide on a list of priorities such as who to rescue from a cave or desert island. 

  • Complete a practical task such as building a bridge out of straws and paper. 

What are the assessors looking for? 

  • You are usually being assessed against the competencies for the role and the organisation's values. 

  • They’re also considering how you work as part of a team and how you would fit into the organisation's culture. 

How can you prepare? 

  • Think about the skills and personal qualities that will be required in the job. 

  • For most roles, it's likely that teamwork, co-operation and the ability to listen to others will be important. 

  • Try out some online exercises such as AssessmentDay.  

Make sure you: 

  • Understand the instructions

  • Agree on objectives and priorities

  • Are confident but not too assertive

  • Actively listen by nodding, smiling and making eye contact

  • Try to include quieter members of the group

  • Keep an eye on the time and remind your group of how long you have left

  • Be positive, even if the task seems trivial

  • Are confident to put forward creative ideas

  • Work well with other candidates to complete the task and reach a joint decision


You may be given a topic in advance or be given an allocated amount of time to prepare on the day. You may be asked to present to an individual or to a panel of interviewers, or in front of the other candidates.  

What are the assessors looking for? 

  • Your presentation skills 

  • Your non-verbal communication skills 

  • A clear and logical structure 

  • A good understanding of the topic 

  • Confidence and personality   

  • Your ability to keep to the time limit  

How can you prepare?

If you know your topic in advance, you can think about:

  • Preparing a presentation using digital tools, interactive elements, props and/or hand-outs

  • Practising!

If you are given the topic on the day, use your preparation time to plan:

  • A clear and logical structure

  • Key points to get across

  • A strong beginning and ending

Even if you are not told you will be doing a presentation, you may be asked to introduce yourself in front of the other candidates so confidence and preparation will help. For more information on how to prepare visit TargetJobs and Prospects.

How we can help you 

We offer lots of support to help you prepare for assessment centres, including: