Assessment Centre FAQ

What is an Assessment Centre?
The term assessment centre does not refer to a location, but to a process that is being increasingly used by organisations to assess staff, either as part of the recruitment process or for internal development and promotion.

Who Uses the Assessment Centre?
Two-thirds of employers using assessment centres include them as part of their graduate recruitment programmes or when selecting middle or senior managers.

What Are the Different Types of Assessment Centre?
The assessment centre process is used for graduate recruitment, management selection and staff development. In all of these cases the process itself is very similar and a candidate for any of these would prepare themselves in more or less the same way.

What is a Development Centre?
You will most likely take part in a development centre as you progress from front-line to managerial roles, or from a general role to a more technical or strategic role, often as part of an organisation’s graduate management programme.

What Format Does an Assessment Centre Take?
Assessment centres are usually used after the initial stages of the selection process, because of the large amount of time and expense in conducting them, and they usually follow the initial job interview. Other measurements such as psychological tests may complement the selection process.

What are Competencies and Behaviours?
Competencies are general descriptions of the behaviour and underlying characteristics needed to successfully perform a particular role at the required level. They are concerned with how an individual carries out a particular element of their role rather than merely what they do.

How are Behaviours Measured?
As you can imagine, behaviours are quite difficult things to specify and to measure accurately. The professionals who design assessment centre exercises usually try to overcome this problem by subdividing behaviours into separate factors that are more specific and therefore easier to measure.

Do KSAs have meaning outside of the Assessment Centre?
KSAs are important only in as much as they make it much easier for you to think about how the assessors are going to measure appropriate behaviours and to plan your responses accordingly.

How Can I Demonstrate KSA's in an Interview?
Some competencies cannot easily be demonstrated in exercises and the only opportunity to show that you have them will be with reference to your qualifications, employment history or personal achievements. This is why almost all assessment centres retain some sort of interview.

Who Are the Assessors?
The assessors are usually people one level above the position you have applied for. They will be ambitious and successful individuals within their own departments and organisations. These people will have a very clear idea of the qualities they expect to see in an individual performing the role you have applied for.

What is Long Term Preparation for the Assessment Centre?
Your long-term preparation is closely linked to your career plan and is something that you cannot ignore if you expect to progress upwards through the levels of your chosen occupation or profession

How do I prepare for a Development Centre?
If you take part in a development centre, your role will be one where there is more emphasis on your abilities to ‘explore’ or ‘brainstorm’ an issue or the potential of a situation; rather than be expected to display a particular competency.

What are Assessment Centre Exercises?
Over the many years that assessment centre’s have been used as part of the recruitment process a core group of exercises have become recognised as the best ones to assess a candidates’ competencies and behaviours.

What is an In-Tray Exercise?
The in-tray exercise forms the back-bone of any assessment centre and this is because of the diversity of behaviours as well as, Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSA’s) that can be tested as part of this exercise.

What is a Presentation Exercise?
Giving a presentation offers you a much better platform than is normally available when simply answering an interviewer's questions. You also have far more control in this exercise than in any of the others.

What are Group Exercises?
Group exercises are used to assess how you interact with others and to gauge your impact and influence when working in a team. Typically, you will be given a problem or scenario which requires a collective decision to be taken. This is usually presented in the form of a brief, which also includes a strict time limit when the result of the discussion will need to be conveyed to the assessors.

What are Role Play Exercises?
This type of exercise also allows the assessors to actually test how you respond when put on the spot or dealing with conflict. The key purpose of the exercise is to again see what competencies you display and how your behaviour matches those of the required role.

What is a Media Interview Exercise?
This specialised exercise is unlikely to be in the majority of assessment centres, but if you are seeking a senior management position or directorship then you must familiarise yourself with this exercise. You can view it as a unique role-play exercise designed to assess how well you perform with the press.

What are Competency Based Interviews?
Some competencies cannot easily be demonstrated in exercises and the only opportunity to ‘demonstrate’ them will be with reference to your qualifications, employment history or personal achievements. The assessors are aware of this and almost all assessment centres retain some sort of interview component, usually a competency-based interview.

Can I Prepare for the Social Event?
The social event provides an opportunity for the assessors to see how you act in an informal social environment. The assessors need to be confident that you are going to be a good ‘ambassador’ for the organisation, particularly if your role is likely to involve socialising with clients or people from other organisations.


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