Employer advice

How to make assessment centres work for you

Assessment centres form an invaluable part of an employer’s armoury in selecting the most suitable candidate for a job.
Traditionally used for bulk recruitment campaigns at graduate or junior level, assessment centres are increasingly being utilised for more senior hires.
Employers can acquire a detailed insight into the ability, psychology and motives of candidates through applying a series of themed, interactive or situational tests held either in-house or through an independent company.

We’ve outlined some test methods commonly used in assessment centres below:

  • Role play
Role play exercises test a candidate’s ability to perform in a job - for example, a fact finding and negotiation exercise for sales professionals. Role play often involves two assessors determining a candidate’s ability to prioritise and manage their time effectively.
  • Group exercise
In this exercise candidates are assessed on how they work together as a group towards a stated end goal as the assessors watch and listen. The assessors will be looking for candidates to take control of the situation, draw opinions from the other delegates, keep the group to time, stand their ground (without becoming argumentative) and successfully take the group to its stated goal.
Behavioural event interview
Candidates are asked to discuss two or three specific events in their career to date, that are, either key successes or situations that didn't have the desired outcome. Assessors will then ask questions to probe around these events evaluating a candidate’s approach to planning, risk analysis, decision making, developing solutions, seeking information, developing others, customer focus, building relationships etc.
  • Biographical interview
This is where a candidate is interviewed against their CV. Questioning is targeted around experience and responsibilities to date, motivations, why they’ve made certain moves during their career, what they’re looking for from their next role, key successes, qualifications, personal circumstances, current salary and expectations etc.
  • Verbal and numerical testing
This method is used to give an indication of a candidate’s ability to process both verbal and numerical information while working to a time limit. These tests are conducted either prior to or on the assessment day, on or offline.
  • Psychometric testing
These tests are used to help employers assess a candidate’s cultural fit and psychological make-up. There are no right and wrong answers on these tests so they give a good insight into how and what a candidate actually thinks rather than what the employer wants to hear.
  • Presentation exercise
This exercise requires candidates to make a pre-prepared presentation, often based around a proposed business plan/approach to their first six months in the role under offer. Here, assessors get to see candidates deliver a presentation and see how they think on their feet.