Assessment centres

Organisations that make a relatively large investment in the individuals they hire, including those offering internships and Graduate Programs, may use Assessment Centres to select successful candidates.  Assessment Centres are not physical spaces; they are a more elaborate type of application process. (Human Resources) staff from those organisations may be directly involved in assessing candidates or the organisation may have outsourced running of activities to a recruitment agency. A number of selection activities are grouped together and applicants are invited to attend an assessment centre. This may involve a few hours of your time or even a number of days. The process allows employers to assess applicants more holistically against the selection criteria.

An Assessment Centre may consist of a range of elements often conducted over the course of a day or more, including:

  • psychometric tests
  • interviews
  • evaluation tasks
  • social events.

Opportunities to interact at social events, such as lunches and cocktail parties are often part of the assessment process. Feel at ease to interact naturally but keep things on a professional level and take the opportunity to get to know more about the organisation. Your communication and social skills will be assessed, so avoid having too much alcohol. Also, think practically: for example, do you know how you are going to shake someone's hand if you have a drink in one hand, a skewer in the other and there's no table nearby? Also, the food that may be served can look great but think about the impression you make if the contents of your spring roll escape and leave a trail of smudges on their way to the floor.

Making the most of assessment centres

Assessment centres are an opportunity to show your strengths and abilities in a variety of ways. You should receive information from the organisation regarding the format and duration of the assessment centre. It is important to read and understand these details, including where and when to arrive, what to wear and what to bring along. Read over the selection criteria again, to ensure you understand what the employer will be assessing that day.

It's important to know that although you will often be assessed in a group setting, you're not competing with other candidates; you will be assessed against a pre-defined set of criteria. Some, all or none of the candidates at the Assessment Centre may be offered a position.

Ask for feedback

Assessment centres assess a number of different elements of what you bring to an organisation, make sure you ask for feedback, whether you are offered the job or not!