A Candidate’s Guide To An Assessment Center

The hiring process is often cumbersome and tedious as people involved have to filter through thousands of applications to select a group of suitable candidates. An efficient way of combating this is using an assessment center.

What is an Assessment Centre?

What comes to mind when you think of an assessment center? Normally, a large room filled with strangers where you’re asked to play games, give presentations and tackle a range of tasks of varying levels of difficulty. The objective is for recruiters to assess your suitability for a particular company.

Hence, the word assessment center.

Assessment centers also include processes dedicated to providing companies with qualified, dynamic, and efficient individuals who meet the job requirements.

Different industries and businesses, including government and educational institutions, use assessment centers to select individuals for various roles. A set of varied exercises are used to simulate distinctive aspects of the work environment while evaluating how an applicant’s behavior and skills match those required for a particular job position.

It’s not The Apprentice/The Hunger Games!

However, the testing procedures in an assessment center can be highly competitive; not all applicants are accepted and can, therefore, be rejected before the final selection process.



Being at an assessment center is not at all like being on a reality TV show – you’re not in direct competition with other candidates

Applicants may feel like they have been dragged into a scene from The Apprentice because of the stress and uncertainties. Yet, being at an assessment center is not at all like being on a reality TV show for two reasons:

  • You’re not in direct competition with other candidates – you are being assessed against an employer’s criteria. It is crucial that you show how well you can work on your own or in a team to achieve the goals and tasks.
  • Assessment centers are two-way streets – it is also an opportunity for you to assess and evaluate a prospective employer as much as they assess you and see if the shoe fits. It is better to find out something like this sooner than later.

What to Expect at an Assessment Centre?

Also known as assessment days, an assessment center can vary in duration, format, and content. While many assessment centers are usually organized in-house, there have been instances where some are outsourced to a third party and may be held in a conference room of a hotel.

Most intensive assessment centers may last for two full days, depending on the position you applied for. A range of activities includes written assignments, mock presentations, role-play, personality tests, and exams. All in the name of assessing your skills and strengths, capabilities, and suitability for the position.

Group activities may also play a role in an assessment center, including group business exercises, where each applicant takes turns in playing a senior figure. This is more applicable when recruiting for managerial positions where leadership skills take precedent.

There may also be social or networking events, such as a lunch, dinner, or even a coffee break. Be prepared to ask and answer intelligent questions while getting to know the other applicants.

Preparing for an Assessment Centre



You can still set yourself up for success with the proper preparation and understanding of what employers are looking for.

Assessment centers can appear daunting and make you feel anxious. Worry not; you can still set yourself up for success with the proper preparation and understanding of what employers are looking for.

Make sure that you appear in control, are confident, and remain calm with whatever comes your way. Focus on the task at hand and pay attention to what the recruiters are looking for. The idea is to smile, be nice, and get to know your competition.

In any case, here is some advice for how to be at your best when the day comes:

  • Prepare yourself for interviews

Competency-based interviews undertaken by employers may include your latest work experience or some challenging situations during your time at university. You may want to think of examples of different past work experiences, the specific tasks to which you were assigned, the approaches you took for problem-solving, and the outcome of those.

  • Practise mock assessment tests

Try familiarizing yourself with the possible nature of questions by taking mock exams that you can find online. Abstract, numerical, and verbal reasoning assessments are usually conducted in assessment centers. Practicing these may help you be mentally prepared for it, so it does not come as a surprise when you see it.

  • Dress appropriately and be punctual

Keep in mind that you may be assessed in terms of professionalism as well. Try to behave and think like the employees that recruiters are looking for. Choose corporate attire to look presentable and formal, and be punctual.

  • Remember your work etiquette

Smile, be confident, shake hands when making introductions to people around you while maintaining your composure and focus. Indulge in meaningful and productive conversations, and when appropriate, you may ask your own intelligent questions.

  • Get a good night’s sleep

It is always a good idea to be mentally alert on the day itself. You need to be in top shape, both physically and mentally, if you want to meet the expectations of an assessment center. The best way to do this is by having a good night’s sleep. This will also help to sharpen your focus when answering test questions.

Staying on top of your game is one thing, but when you are in the thick of it on the day itself, it also pays to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Neglecting yourself physically

On the days before the assessment day, make sure to bring your best. This will also mean that you need to take care of yourself and prevent falling sick. Stay hydrated, sleep well, and eat properly. It might sound cliched, but nervousness can mess up your habits if you aren’t careful.



Avoid dwelling on your mistakes, accept them and move on!

  • Dwelling on mistakes

Accept it and move on if you feel as if you have messed up on a group discussion or a test. The time spent dwelling on these mistakes is time wasted. You need to keep your head in the game throughout the assessment day, not just in one session. Stay positive and remain forward-thinking!

  • Comparing yourself with others

Comparing yourself with others may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but this is a bad idea if you want to retain your mental energy and stay positive. Avoid pitting yourself against other applicants. You were selected for a reason, which alone makes everyone present equally as good as each other.

  • Attending the assessment day unprepared

This is your one chance at proving your mettle which means you need to be at your best in the knowledge department. Do your research and your homework. Know the position you are applying for like the back of your hand. It’s essential that you remain calm and at ease throughout the assessment day, so it’s best to ensure you come as prepared as possible.

Having said all that, assessment centers are nothing to be afraid of. If anything, they are an indicator of your competence. Remember the advice and prepare yourself adequately. You’ll reap the benefits of it later as you look back and realize that you have done your best when you sign your employment contract.

Comments are closed.