Assessment Centre Preparation: Advice and Practice Resources

Get ahead of the competition by preparing for your assessment day with JobTestPrep. Assessment centre exercises are used to determine the best candidate for the job, so preparing will give you a leg up on other applicants. Start preparing today and apply with confidence with this PrepPack™. 

  • Case studies, interviews, group exercise, role play, in-tray
  • Expert advice
  • Online access to practice resources

What Is an Assessment Day?

The assessment day is often (but not always) the final stage in the application process. Assessment days can take place at the employer’s offices or at a private assessment centre. You are evaluated through a series of individual and group tasks, all of which are aimed at giving the employer a rounded profile of your competencies as well as insight into your performance in the workplace.

Assessment days usually run four to eight hours over a period of one or two days, although mass recruitment campaigns are sometimes a three-day process. The exact schedule for each employer's assessment day varies according to the position for which the assessment is being held. Below is a review of the most common assessment centre exercises employers use in their hiring processes.

Assessment Day Sample Schedule

09.00-09.10Welcome & IntroductionRoom 1
09.10-10.30Competency Based InterviewRoom 1
10.45-12.30Analysis Presentation ExerciseRoom 2
13.30-14.45Role Play ExerciseRoom 2
15.00-17.00In-Tray ExerciseRoom 1

Online Tests

Ability and reasoning tests are usually part of the preliminary online application process. In most cases, only candidates who successfully pass these tests are summoned to the assessment centre. However, verification tests are expected at the beginning of the assessment day. You are asked to sit a shorter version of your numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, or non-verbal reasoning test to validate your previous performance. For a complete range of reasoning practice tests, please continue to the page that discusses aptitude tests.

Case Studies

In these exercises, you are given a set of papers relating to a particular situation and asked to make recommendations in the form of a brief report. The subject matter itself may not be important (and even ridiculous at times). However, you are being tested on your ability to analyse information, to think clearly and logically, and to exercise your judgment. Read more and practise our case study exercises.

Analysis Exercises

An analysis exercise is the same as a case study. The only difference between the two is the name. Case study is more popular but you may find some companies that you apply for use the term analysis exercise. In truth, the term analysis is more correct than case study. You are not being tested on your ability to write a case study, you are being assessed on your analytic ability through means of a case study.

In-Tray Exercises

These are business simulation exercises in which you are given a full in-tray or electronic inbox (e-tray) with emails, company memos, telephone and fax messages, reports, and correspondence, as well as information about the structure of the organisation and your place within it. You are expected to make decisions, prioritise your workload, draft replies, delegate tasks, recommend action to superiors, and so on. This exercise is designed to test how you handle complex information within a limited time frame, thus allowing you to demonstrate your organisational and planning skills. Some employers also want to know why you have made certain decisions and may ask you to annotate items in the tray or discuss your decisions later. In-tray exercises are often a core element of the assessment centre. Read more and practise our in-tray exercise.


Some employers ask you to prepare a short talk or presentation. You may be asked to bring a prepared presentation to the assessment centre, but usually it must be produced on the actual day. You may be given a topic for discussion or have free choice. The subject matter is not necessarily important. Rather, the assessor wants to ascertain whether you can structure and communicate information effectively; deliver a concise, fluent, and coherent flow of ideas; and be ready to tackle related questions without hesitation. 

Group Tasks

You may be asked as a group to use equipment or materials to make or do something (for example, to move a golf ball from one table to another using a paper clip and a pipe cleaner). The selectors are more interested in how the group interacts than in the quality of the finished product. Additionally, your planning, problem-solving skills, and the creativity of your independent ideas are being assessed. Read and practise our practice group exercise. Check out the SHL group exercise preparation.

Role Plays and Scenarios

You may be asked to take part in a role-playing exercise in which you are given a briefing pack and asked to play a part that is related to the position you are applying for. The setup may include a few 'actors' in a scene of a day-to-day dilemma, placing you as the decision-maker who is expected to cope with the dilemma and offer solutions. The assessors are looking at your individual skills as well as your verbal communication and planning skills. JobTestPrep offers live, one-to-one assessment centre sessions in which role-plays and group activities are simulated by professional assessors and psychologists. Read more about role play exercises at the assessment centre.


Interviews are a crucial part of the selection process. In some cases, the assessment day includes more than one interview. The interviews are conducted by hired assessors, members of the recruitment team, and/or by a senior member of the team/department you seek to join. A good interview performance can change the overall impression you make and even cover for other areas in which you demonstrated a low performance. JobTestPrep offers excellent advice on competency-based interviews and the STAR method and, most importantly, we provide a unique preparation service with which you can get expert feedback on your interview performance.