Careers Service

Assessment Centres



Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres

Being invited to an assessment centre usually means you have passed the first interview and are getting closer to landing that dream job!

Assessment centres are increasing in popularity among employers in determining which applicants may be suitable. Using this sophisticated method of selection, the employer can identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of candidates and achieve a better ''match'' with the job on offer and see what training may be needed for those selected.

What is an Assessment Centre?

Each employer will design their own programs and use different types and combinations of exercises.
The selectors observe a group of candidates in a range of situations over a longer period than is possible with a single interview. Indeed, the assessment may be called a second interview.

  • A typical group would consist of no more than 10 candidates.
  • The exercises are designed to let you show your personal and technical skills relevant to the job.
  • They are not competitive.
  • Centres can last from 1-3 days.
  • You may be ''informally'' observed in social settings during meals and in the bar during the evening.
  • Travel expenses are usually paid and accommodation provided if necessary.
  • Although intensive, Assessment Centres should be fun.

What will I have to do?

There are usually a number of the following:

  • Group activities
  • Presentations
  • Role plays
  • Written exercises
  • Aptitude/Psychometric tests
  • Interviews
  • Social events
  • Non-participative events

Group activities:

  • Designed to see how you interact with other people - Tests your teamwork skills.
  • An effective team has clear objectives and agreed goals.
  • You should take different roles - at times leading at others supporting.
  • There should be a time-keeper and regular reviews.
  • Conflict has to be handled carefully.
  • Negotiation skills are important.

Typical Assessment Centre Exercises

Typical Assessment Centre Exercises

  • Introduction - lighthearted and practical exercise to help the group relax and for a group dynamic to develop
  • Group task - given a specific task to be completed in a specified time. May be practical like producing a model from legs or straws or a decision-making exercise like deciding where a new factory should be located
  • Group discussion - given a topic to discuss and come to a consensus and/or make recommendations within a set time, for example ''should Neighbours be banned from TV?''
  • Presentations - you may be given the topic prior to attending the Centre or whilst at it. Some presentations are delivered to the assessors alone others with the rest of the candidates as your audience. It is important to keep within the time allotted, keep the structure simple and to avoid gabbling your way through it
  • Role Plays - usually focus on a work-related issue with someone else playing the part of a colleague or client. You will be given background information and time to think yourself into the role
  • Written Exercises - Case Study - you will be given the outline of a situation and lots of facts and background information; some relevant, some not. Within a certain time you must read the information and prepare your recommendations which are discussed subsequently with your assessor
  • In-tray exercise - you will be given a variety of pieces of information and correspondence contained in a fictitious employees in-tray. You need to read the information, identify priorities and make recommendations for action
  • Drafting - designed to test your written skills and ability to think clearly and logically this usually involves sorting through a variety of reports, letters, charts etc and drafting a letter or a report setting out your recommendations
  • Aptitude/Psychometric Tests -the two main types of test are aptitude/ability and personality profiles. They are used to supplement other forms of assessment and are often administered as a short-listing device. You cannot prepare for personality inventories but it is worth doing some practice aptitude tests. See information about on this type of testing
  • Interviews - most organisations will include a further interview either with an individual or a panel. This may be similar to our first interview or more technical and structured around the capabilities sought
  • Social events - although not part of the assessment your behaviour and how well you relate to others will be observed
  • Non-participative activities - tours of company presentations are often included in the program. You may be asked questions on these elements later on. It is also an opportunity to learn more about the work and organisation and help you decide if you will take the post if it is offered

Useful resources

Useful Resources

  • GradIreland offers comprehensive careers planning advice for Irish students and graduates and boasts lots of relevant information in addition to offering an impressive virtual tour of the application process, including assessment
  • DoctorJob is an award-winning graduate Careers site and its quirky, friendly layout and has an excellent 'Diary of an assessment centre' section
  • destinations