What is an assessment centre?

What is an assessment centre?

Preparing for Job Interviews

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These days many organisations use assessment centres to select the right people for their job vacancies. If you are looking for a job it is more than likely that at some stage you will have to participate in such a process in order to get the position you want. People often find the experience quite uncomfortable at first so it useful to prepare as much as you can.

Multiple selection methods
An assessment centre is any combination of more than one objective selection technique used to measure suitability for a job. It usually involves attending a venue along with other candidates for a day or a half day. Assessment centres use a combination of objective selection methods to measure suitability for a job.

The tests and exercises you are likely to meet
The exercises and tests you will come across at an assessment centre in almost all cases fall into the following categories:

  • Group exercise
  • In-tray exercise
  • Role play exercise
  • Case study based analysis exercise
  • Psychometric personality questionnaire
  • Psychometric ability test
  • Competency based interview

ACP offer the opportunity to practice assessment centre exercises.

How your performance will be measured
There is a sense in which these events are like a driving test in that it's not just being able to drive but being able to jump through the appropriate hoop in order to show the examiner you can drive.

Most assessment exercises have scoring guides for each exercise you participate in.Assessors have checklists linked to the qualities or competencies required for the job. In most cases they will quite strictly stick to these guides in a structured way for all candidates.

Example of a scoring matrix
The hiring organisation is likely to have aligned the exercises against the criteria they are measuring in a matrix like this:


Group Discussion


Analysis Briefing

Problem Solving

Personality Questionnaire

Strategic Thinking


Team Leadership



Achieving Results


Customer Service




Motivation and Resilience



Interpersonal Sensitivity



Analysis and Decision-Making



How decisions are made at the end of the day
Having rated your performance throughout the day, the assessors will look at an overall summary of your performance which may look a bit like the grid above only with numerical score rating where the ticks are. This will form the basis for discussion after which the hiring organisation will make the decision on who they take on.


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