Surviving the assessment centre

Surviving the assessment centre

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Being invited to an assessment day can be a daunting prospect. The programme of events can feel intensive, but assessment days are in fact invaluable opportunities for you to find out more about the company and get to know people working there at different level, who will be there to observe. Assessment centres also provides you with a chance to showcase your skills and qualities in various situations/tasks.

If you have been invited to an assessment centre, amazing! Your first interview must have gone well, which is really positive. To survive the next stage in your interviewing process read on for Zoek’s simple guide on what to expect and how to succeed at assessment centres.

Get Ready

It’s vital that you’re prepared for the assessment day in order to perform at your best. Make sure you have all documentation, notes and resources you might need. If you are given a presentation to prepare beforehand, make sure you schedule in plenty of time to do it. One of the biggest presentation tips is to practice in front of an audience and perfect your timings.
If you’ve not been briefed you may be asked to deliver a short impromptu presentation so it’s best to prepare a few ideas in advance. Also, think about how you’re going to introduce yourself to the assessors and your peers as one of the first things you can expect at an assessment centre is some sort of ice breaker. To find out about others peoples experiences at assessment centres you may find job-hunting sites such as and useful.

Hello, Goodbye

When greeted, make eye contact with the individual and deliver a firm hand shake, whilst being polite and courteous. Don’t forget to smile.
At the end of the assessment day, thank each of the assessors for the opportunity you’ve been presented with by taking the time to approach each person with another polite hand shake.

Take Your Time

Many assessment centres will involve digesting a brief and responding in some way, so it’s essential that you manage your time effectively. Take your time to read any information provided during the process. One of the most common mistakes made by candidates is failing to follow instructions.
Whilst it’s important to answer as many questions, or complete as many tasks as possible, be confident that you understand what is being asked before you start.

Get Involved

The assessors are looking for candidates who are ready to have a go at any exercise, who show genuine interest in the activities they are set and participate actively in discussions.
Try not to worry about the other candidates, focus on putting your key qualities and attributes forward. Make sure you’re heard, maintain a friendly manner and remember you are being assessed even in 'informal' situations.

Be Receptive

Be open to the views of your peers, demonstrate your listening skills and seek to build a consensus amongst the group. Establish yourself as someone with leadership potential by coming up with lots of ideas or issuing instructions to others.

Avoid the temptation to argue with, criticise or interrupt others as this will show an inability to work as part of a team, an important attribute your assessors will be looking for.

Know Your Stuff

Research the company and role as you would for a normal interview. Go back to the company website and check whether they provide assessment centre tips.
The assessors will have a pre-defined list of competencies and attributes you are likely to be measured against. Match your own knowledge, skills, interests and experiences to the job competencies and identify your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job.

Be Yourself

Relax and let your personality show. Assessment centres are far more complex than normal interviews, pretending to be someone else on the day would be extremely difficult. Don’t try to second guess the sort of person you think the assessor is looking for.
If you’re offered a job at the end of the process and you’ve not been entirely honest, you may find yourself in a role that doesn’t align with your expectations. Enjoy the day, you’ll gain some valuable experience and meet some new people along the way.

Stay Motivated

Some activities will be more difficult than others, they are designed to test you and find out how you react under pressure. Don’t be discouraged if you feel you’ve underperformed in any of them. It’s important that you stay motivated throughout the whole process and remain focused on the task at hand. Remember, there will be several exercises during the course of the day with opportunities for you to show your skills.

Follow this simple guide and you will increase your chances of assessment centre success and ultimately securing your dream job.