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Ask a Recruiter: I’ve been asked to an assessment centre. I’ve only ever had one-to-one or panel interviews for jobs before. What is the centre likely to involve?

Published on: 31 Mar 2020

I’ve been asked to an assessment centre. "I’ve only ever had one-to-one or panel interviews for jobs before. What is the centre likely to involve?"

Each assessment centre will be slightly different and you should really receive someinformation beforehand to help you prepare. Certainly try and find out the criteria against which you’re being assessed.

You should expect the assessment toinclude some or all of these:

A face-to-face interview – The faceto- face interview is a standard part of therecruitment process. To prepare yourself, make sure you research the company and have a good understanding of the role. Use LinkedIn or Pipl to learn about the people who will be interviewing you. Be ready to talk about what you’ve done, how you’ve done it, your relevant achievements, why you’re a suitable candidate and why the role appeals to you. The interviewer will want to understand why you’re interested in their role with their company.

A presentation – Details will be given to you on the day. Be sure that you properly read and understand the topic and the instructions around timing. The interviewer will be assessing how well you’ve answered the brief, the content of the presentation but possibly most importantly, the delivery. Maintain good eye contact, positive body language and make sure that you show some personality.

A written exercise – I’d also expect the details of a written exercise to be given to you on the day. Again, make sure you understand and follow the instruction. Think about the content, the presentation and keep within the time you’re given. The last assessment centre I organised gave candidates 30 minutes to read an audit report and prepare an A4, bullet-pointed executive summary.

A group exercise or roleplay – Often the most daunting part of an assessment centre. You’ll be given a task as a group and will be observed to see what you did, how you did it and how you interacted with others. Each company will be looking for a slightly different set of behaviours, so don’t try to second guess what they’re looking for and make sure that they see the real you. It could involve a mock meeting, where you’re asked to make a particular argument or to persuade someone to do or not do something.

Throughout the process, observers take notes and assess everyone against various criteria. It’s important, particularly in the group exercise that you really get involved and are seen to be actively participating. Don’t overdo it but when you’re listening to someone use your body language to show that you’re listening intently. Respond in a way that makes it clear that you’ve listened and understood. The best advice I can give to anyone in an interview is to be yourself and that’s just as important in an assessment centre. Let your personality shine through.

Mark Burton is a director at Burton Recruiting.

01932 808555