By Karen Mannering

Assessment Centres Download

Many companies are now using Assessment Centres as part of the interview process to help identify suitable candidates. This extended selection process usually lasts one or two days but may last longer. Assessment Centres are often used as an initial selection process and are considered by many organisations to be the fairest and most accurate method of selecting staff. How to pass an assessment centre by Karen Mannering is a highly informative and educational book that will teach prospective candidates how to pass this penultimate stage of any selection process.

Assessment centres typically include a number of elements:

  • Social/informal events which offer an opportunity to meet other candidates, the selectors and the company management. Remember although they may appear informal these events are part of the selection process.
  • Information sessions provide up to date information about the company and the roles available.
  • Tests and exercises which are intended to measure your abilities against a set of competencies and reveal your potential. These are likely to include:
  • Psychometric and aptitude tests designed to measure your intellectual capacity for thinking and reasoning, particularly your logical/analytical ability. Many organisations use these tests at an early stage in the selection process.
  • Personality inventories designed to assess your personality and how you might react in different situations.
  • Case studies where you are given a set of papers relating to a particular situation and asked to make recommendations in a brief report. The aim is to assess your ability to analyse information, to think clearly and logically, to exercise your judgement and to express yourself on paper.
  • In-tray exercises to test your organizational skills and ability to prioritise.
  • Giving a short presentation, usually produced on the day.
  • Group activities including practical tasks to see how a group interacts and group discussion or role-playing exercises to assess your communication skills.

You may also have a one-to-one or panel interview as part of the selection process at an Assessment Centre. If the Assessment Centre exercise takes place in the later stages of the process the interviews are likely to be more in-depth and probe any weaknesses identified at an earlier stage.

It is important to remember that an interview is a two-way process – it is not just about a company deciding whether to employ you, but also for you to decide whether you want to work for them. Preparation and practice are the key elements to a successful interview technique.


Do not be afraid to ask what format the interview will take. Make sure you know where and when it is and how to get there.

Make sure you know the Job Description, Person Specification and the information you supplied on your application form inside out, as this will form the basis for most of the interview questions. Be prepared to expand on the information you submitted with your application. If this is your first job, you may not be able to provide examples of work experience but you may be able to refer to your educational career or other activities to support your answers.

If this is your first job after leaving university, make sure you have reminded yourself of any projects or major pieces of work that you undertook during your degree course. It is likely that you will be asked to explain what you did and what the results were.

It is always a good idea to find out about the company or organisation before the interview. You may have been supplied with information as part of the application pack. If not, you may be able to find out about your prospective employer from the internet, your local library or you may know someone who currently works for them. There is probably no need to go into great detail but a good understanding of their aims, products (if they are a manufacturer), customers etc. may all prove useful.

Be prepared to answer questions on current affairs especially if the company or organisation has been in the news recently. Many interviews will include questions on things going on in the world at large to determine how aware you are of events beyond your chosen field.

Write down any questions you may have about the post, the company etc and take them with you to the interview. Find out if you will need to bring any documents with you to the interview if it does not state this in the application pack. If you have been offered an interview on the strength of a letter rather than a specific vacancy it is worth contacting the company before hand to find out if you need to take any information with you.

Creating a positive first impression at an assessment centre interview

Although the job you have applied for may not involve meeting the general public many organisations still operate a dress code and expect their staff to be ‘presentable’. For the assessment centre, you should wear something that is both smart and comfortable – for men this should be a suit or smart trousers and a jacket with a shirt and tie, while for women a suit or smart trousers/skirt with a shirt and jacket are ideal.

If you find assessments and interviews a nerve-racking experience, try to keep in mind that many interviewers also find the experience daunting.

Speak clearly, try to remain calm and avoid rushing your answers – give the interviewer/assessor opportunities to expand upon their questions. Do not underestimate the value your interviewers will place on enthusiasm. Smile when you meet them and shake their hands. Make eye contact during the assessment centre and adopt a friendly, positive and professional approach. Sit reasonably upright and try to relax.

Depending on where the job is, it is possible that you will be shown around either before or after the assessment. Many organisations tend to show candidates around especially if the job you have applied for is in a laboratory. However sometimes the interviews take place at a different site to the place where the job is. If you are shown around, you may have a chance to illustrate your enthusiasm by asking questions and creating a good impression.

Asking a friend or relative to practice interviews with you is a great way to reduce the nerves you may feel on the day. Also remember that the more interviews you attend the less daunting they will seem and the more your confidence will increase.

If you are interested in learning more about how to pass an assessment centre then we recommend that you obtain a copy of our 200 page download guide by Karen Mannering. Karen Mannering (Kent, England) is a trainer developer and coach with over twenty years experience in training, development and management skills. This book will teach you how to pass assessment centres and concentrates primarily on the following subjects:

  • What is an assessment centre?
  • Why are assessment centres used in today’s career selection processes?
  • What might you undergo during an assessment centre?
  • How to prepare effectively for each element.
  • Tips and advice for passing an assessment centre.
  • How you will be scored and assessed on the day.


  • Contains actual interview questions that you WILL get asked at assessment;
  • Provides sample responses that you can use during your assessment centre;
  • Teaches you how you will be assessed at the assessment centre;
  • Sample in tray exercises and group exercises;
  • Written by recruitment experts;
  • Guaranteed to give you the EDGE over the competition.


By Karen Mannering

Assessment Centres Download