Assessment Centre Preparation - Advice and Practice Resources

Get all the preparation advice you need about Assessment Centre activities. Use the navigation bar on the left to choose a specific topic, or continue reading to get a holistic understanding what to expect in a typical assessment day.
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What is an Assessment Centre?

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

Assessment Days usually consist of a four to eight-hour schedule over one or two days, although, mass recruitment campaigns can sometimes be a three-day process. The exact schedule for each employer's Assessment Day can vary according to the position for which the Assessment is being held. Imagine the situation - sitting in a room, with a group of unfamiliar people, usually competing for the same job, facing new and very challenging tasks with ambiguous instructions from assessors who continuously observe your behaviour while taking notes.

Assessment day sample schedule

Assessment Centre Sample Schedule

Online Tests

Nowadays, most ability and reasoning tests are part of the preliminary online application process. In most cases, only candidates who successfully pass these tests will be summoned to the assessment centre. However, verification tests are expected at the beginning of the Assessment Day; you will be 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 section that discusses aptitude tests

Case Studies

In these exercises, you are given a set of papers relating to a particular situation and are 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 >>

In-tray Exercises

These are business simulation exercises in which you are given a full in-tray or electronic inbox (e-tray) with e-mails, 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; the exercise allows 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 practice our in-tray exercise.


Some employers will 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 day. You could be given a topic for discussion or have free choice; the subject matter is not necessarily important – 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. Read more about presentations.

Group Tasks

You may be asked as a group to use equipment or materials to make something (how to move a golf ball from one table to another using a paper clip and pipe cleaner, for example). 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 will be assessed. Read and practice the group exercise.

Role Plays and Scenarios

You may be asked to take part in a role-playing exercise where you are given a briefing pack and asked to play a part which is related to the future position you are applying for. The setup might include a few "actors" in the scene involving 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 for 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 the Role Play Exercises at the assessment centre with examples.


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 will be joining. Good interview performance can change the overall impression you make, and even cover for other areas in which you have demonstrated low performance. We have some 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.

You can choose a practice pack for the above psychometric tests here.

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