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Assessment centres

Graduate employers use assessment centres or assessment days to discover how well each candidate meets the personal competencies and skills required for the job.

There are a range of activities included as part of the day and each candidate is observed by one or two assessors against the job criteria – not against the other candidates. The graduate employer will select different assessment activities depending on the sector and job role. 

More information can be found on Wakelet.

If you have an upcoming assessment centre, we recommend watching this helpful video.

The video is about 40 minutes long. It is appropriate for all types of assessment centres and covers the basics of how to prepare for a virtual assessment centre including answering questions such as:

“Is it ok to sit my virtual AC from my bed?”.

Typical activities

Group activity/ discussion

These activities involve working with a group of candidates to make an object or discuss a topic. They are designed to test team-working skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills, communication and negotiation skills and your ability to ‘think on your feet’. A typical example of this sort of activity is to be given a scenario, for example, you are stranded on a desert island and you have to decide what items to keep from your shipwreck. Generally, there are no right or wrong answers to these sorts of activities. The assessors are looking to assess how you communicate with your peers in a group setting, reach consensus, manage your time and deal with conflict.  

Case study/ scenario

In these activities the group must respond to a case study, often based on a real-life situation, and then present their findings. Normally you would present your findings in a group presentation. Recruiters are looking for teamwork, leadership, negotiation and communication skills rather than the ‘right’ conclusion.     

Psychometric or personality tests

These tests involve a series of timed exercises typically testing your verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning abilities, or how you might react in different situations.  You can practice these tests using Graduates First.  

A personality test will determine whether you are the right fit for the job, team, culture and organisation. There is generally no time limit, but you should expect to spend between 15-30 minutes answering a series of questions online. When taking the personality test, ensure you have a quiet room, remember to stay calm and consistent with your answers and go with your initial reactions. 

E-tray/ in-tray exercise

This is a simulated business task where you deal with a paper-based (in-tray) or computer-based (e-tray) series of tasks. They are designed to test your decision-making skills, analytical and planning skills and ability to prioritise effectively. You can practice these tests on Graduates First


This involves giving a verbal presentation that you may (or may not) have prepared in advance.  Recruiters are looking for communication, organisational skills and the confidence to speak in front of an audience. If you need to develop your presentation skills, book on to a UniSkills workshop.  

Role play

This is a new and emerging activity that is typically used by graduate employers to simulate a business situation.  This may include meeting with a client for the first time or handling a customer complaint. Assessors will observe your interactions and behaviours and see how you perform under pressure.    

Panel interview

The panel interview is normally the last stage of an assessment centre process involving perhaps three members of staff. It might also include the assessors, either as observers or interviewers. The interview will be a detailed discussion around the requirements of the job focusing on questions around your knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours. Remember to provide evidence and examples when answering competency/strength-based interview questions. 

Discover more about succeeding at interviews