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Assessment day – everything you need to know

An assessment day is normally the final step in the hiring process for most graduate jobs or schemes. While they are daunting they are also a great way for you to easily showcase a broader range of skills and competencies than during an interview. Keep reading for all the necessary assessment day tips you need to nail it and get your perfect job.

Ok, so it’s easy to think that the sole purpose of the assessment day is too see how awkward, uncomfortable and nervous you can be made to feel. Lucky for you, that isn’t actually the number one priority. They normally consist of a room of candidates all there to complete a series of test, exercises and interviews. These are all designed to highlight the candidate’s suitability, or lack of, for the graduate role.

Table of Contents

Assessment centre tips for the typical activities to expect

Employers tailor each assessment day so they can test for the skills and competencies that apply directly to their company. However, they essentially contain similar elements and exercises. So expect some of, or a combination of, the following:

  • Information session: where you may expect to find out more information about the business through a presentation or informal chat.
  • Group ice-breaker exercise: possibly games or just small chats, so think of a few topics to talk about beforehand.
  • Aptitude and psychometric tests: while you may have already taken some in previous stages of the application process, you may still be asked to retake them to check results.
  • In-tray or e-tray exercise: testing your ability to absorb information, prioritise, communicate and make decisions.
  • Group exercise: this could be a group problem-solving exercise, or a case study discussion, probably involving a recent issue or project relevant to the company.
  • Individual or group presentations.
  • Interviews: these could be conducted by recruiters, senior employers or even your potential line manager, and they could be done either one-to-one or panel.
  • Social breaks: show your social skills and assess your potential colleagues, the business and your fellow candidates.

What they look for

Recruiters mainly use an assessment day to group candidates and make it much simpler for employers to assess each candidate. Employers will assess the candidates on how they react to different situations and demonstrate key skills and competencies the recruiters are looking for – like communication, teamwork and problem solving.

It’s vital to remember that an assessment day is not a game of ‘last man/woman standing’. You will be assessed against the criteria set by the employer, not against the other candidates. Be friendly, you’re being interviewed by people who you’ll be working with. They don’t want to have Cersei Lannister sat next to them everyday.

Assessment centre tips for success; back to basics!

Remember to be rested and prepared, both physically and mentally – it will be a massive confidence boost and help for the day. Be open minded and ready to get involved. So;

Make the most of your careers service. There are plenty of sessions available from your careers services, from practice interviews to assessment centres.

Practice your interview technique. Its common to have a few more interviews at an assessment day so make sure you practice your STAR format and questions, especially for tricky questions and to make sure those interview nerves stay far away.

  • Preparation: the biggest cause of panic comes from lack of preparation, be fully whizzed up on everything about the company, from their mission and latest projects to their charity work. Try to pick one thing you really like and remember it in detail, it’s a common question.
  • Practice: in front of your mirror, to your mum, your housemates, your favourite teddy bear, your lecturer, anyone and everyone. Your answers will be silky smooth.
  • Picture: put yourself in the interview scenario, it may sound cliche but if you imagine yourself calm, in control and building rapport effortlessly it will be easier to do when the time comes.

Carefully read everything sent to you from the employer. From the structure of the assessment centre, location, date and start time to everything you need to bring with you (and don’t forget to bring it with you).

Any tasks you need to do before the day. There may be a presentation or a case study that you will need to prepare BEFORE your assessment day. It’s important to plan time to do this, do NOT leave it till the last second.

Employer research. Go over the research you have done for this application,  and revisit the employer website. Keep yourself up to date on current news about the employer by checking their social media profiles and key documents. If you have any trouble working out what is needed from you – don’t panic, just contact the recruiter asap.

Remember your situation. This is not a competition, try not to force yourself into the situation or be uber-competitive you will risk appearing arrogant and rude. But most importantly, make sure you’re not sitting silently in the corner as you will give recruiters nothing to assess!

Punctuality. It’s really not that hard.

Now go nail your assessment centre and assessment day! If you are still looking for your assessment day opportunity then check out and connect with companies that are looking for someone like you!

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