Assessment centres

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Assessment centres

How to showcase your skills and competencies to get the job you want

During the recruitment process, and particularly in graduate schemes, it's likely you will be invited to an assessment centre. Assessment centres vary in structure, however, their key purpose is to assess your skills and competencies through a range of different exercises, along with other candidates. 

The competencies that employers will measure you against will vary depending on the job role, industry and organisation. Common skills tested could include communication, team-work and problem solving. These could be measured through different activities including group tasks, case studies and presentations.

Who uses assessment centres?

Large organisations in both the public and private sectors will generally use assessment centres. Some of these include:

  • Charities e.g. Cancer Research UK, Charity-works
  • Public Sector Organisations e.g. The Police, Civil Service Fast Stream, The National Health Service
  • Consultancy Firms e.g. PwC, Sparta Global
  • Banking and Insurance e.g. HSBC, Swiss Re
  • Manufacturing companies, e.g. Unilever, Masterfoods, Shell, Corus, GSK

Did you know 68% of employers in the UK now use some form of assessment centre as part of their recruitment/promotion process? (Source:

What is assessed?

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    • what is important to the company / their ethos. Some measure client empathy
      i.e. picking up on social ques and emotional intelligence, especially for customer focussed roles.
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    • a person’s motivations and innate qualities. They’re looking for energy in the answers given and a genuine response.

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    • more for engineering, scientific and accountancy roles. An engineering role may require you to undertake technical tests to check that you understand the basic engineering principles of the area in which the employer works.
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    • employers may look for adaptability, time management, analytical thinking, commercial awareness, communication, creativity, decision-making, leadership, negotiation, organisation and teamwork.

After an assessment centre

  • Find out how and when you will hear the outcome
  • If unsuccessful, always ask for feedback, so you can use this for your personal development – do not be afraid to chase for feedback, it’s really important you receive this, so you can focus on improving your interview technique
  • Reflect on your performance; think about what went well, what you could’ve done better and what you can improve on for next time i.e. practicing psychometric tests
  • Remember to congratulate yourself - some employers receive thousands of applications every year (TfL c19,000 or the Civil Service Fast Stream 32,450 ) so the fact you made it to the assessment centre is a huge achievement in itself!

Assessment Centre Workshops

The Careers and Employability Service regularly run workshops on assessment centres for you to practice going through a selection process. Find out when the next workshop is running on our Events page.