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Are you a recruiter or hiring manager looking for candidate pre-employment assessment tests and tools including aptitude tests?

We invite you to visit our Assess Candidates website.

What are assessment centre exercises? How to prepare for an assessment centre? How to pass an assessment centre? If these are questions on your mind, then this is the guide for you.

In this text, we give the lowdown on assessment centres, what types of exercises you can expect and provide top tips to help prepare and succeed in your upcoming assessment day.

Our website provides a complete package of assessment centre practice tests that could be used to prepare for assessment centre exercises in the recruitment process. Start your practice to prepare for assessment centre preparation today.

Wondering whether you should be practising to prepare for your assessment centre practice test? A recent study found that around one-third of employers use assessment centres in their application processes.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, 2020)

Check out what we’ll cover in this guide below:


  1. What is an Assessment Centre?
  2. How to Prepare For an Assessment Centre
  3. Types of Assessment Centres
  4. Virtual Assessment Centres
  5. Assessment Centre Exercises
  6. What Industries use Assessment Centres in Recruitment?
  7. Top Tips to Pass your Assessment Centre
  8. Assessment Centre Exercises FAQs

Let’s dive in to find out more!

What is an Assessment Centre?

An assessment day is a process used by employers to evaluate the suitability of job applicants for a particular role. It usually involves a series of exercises and tests designed to assess a range of skills, competencies and personal attributes relevant to the job in question.

What do assessment centres assess?

The assessment centre is an easy method used by employers to assess candidates for employment or to evaluate current employees for promotion or development opportunities.

Why are assessment used by employers?

Assessment centres can be used for various purposes, including:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Talent management
  • Training and development
  • Succession planning

What do assessment centres involve?

Assessment centers involve various tasks and interviews that simulate job challenges. Examiners observe and assess performance based on set criteria or competencies. The outcome of the assessment informs hiring, promotion, training, and development decisions.

Did you know? Assessment centre practice tests are also used for leadership development and training as they identify areas for improvement and can be used to develop tailored development plans for current employees.

Your assessors will take notes on what they see and hear during the exercises, but not on what they think. Therefore their own judgement is often excluded from the session.

How to Prepare For an Assessment Centre

  1. Research the company and its objectives. Understand the company’s key values and work culture. You can use this to get a good picture of the ‘ideal’ employee.
  1. Check the job description to uncover what important skills and strengths the company is seeking. Consider how you can demonstrate these during the exercises.
  1. Keep up with industry-related news around the employer. Think about how the company handled a situation to gain  insight into culture/values. You could also use these as examples for interviews.
  1. Practice your key abilities ahead of the assessment day using practice spoken communication exercises with a family member or friend. Use the feedback given to help enhance your performance. 
  1. Develop your time management skills through practice. Prioritise your practice and practice timed simulation tests to prepare for in-tray or e-tray exercises.
Assessment centre preparation
Assessment Centre Preparation
Source: FreePik

Keep reading below to find out more tips that you can use during the assessment centre to stand out and impress! 

First, let’s discover more about what we can expect at an assessment day.

Types of Assessment Centres

What are the types of assessment centre exercises?

Assessment centres can vary depending on the employer and the various job roles you have applied for. Here are the main types of assessment day that you might be invited to take in your application process:

  1. In-person assessment centre: traditionally you may take part in various in-person activities, including: group exercises, role-plays, presentations, and psychometric tests. There are also likely to be Interviews with recruiters or managers at this stage.
  1. Psychometric assessment centre: This type of assessment centre is designed to evaluate your personality traits, cognitive abilities, and emotional intelligence. The assessment could include tests such as aptitude tests, personality tests, and situational judgement tests.
  1. Hybrid assessment centre: This type of assessment centre combines elements of both job simulation and psychometric assessments. Candidates may be required to complete a variety of tasks and tests, including simulations of job-related activities and psychometric tests.
  1. Developmental assessment centre: In these assessment and development centres, employees are assessed with various methods such as psychometric tests, simulations, and interviews. The results are used to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and develop a personalised development plan to improve performance and career growth.
  1. Online group assessment: In this assessment centre, the entire process is conducted online, with individuals being assigned individual tasks or group activities. The assessment may include virtual interviews, psychometric tests and other online activities designed to assess participants’ skills, knowledge and abilities.
  1. Virtual assessment centre: This type of assessment centre is conducted using video conferencing software and other virtual tools online. These assessment centre tests and many tests may be similar to those used in traditional assessment centres, adapted to the virtual format.

In today’s world of remote working, virtual assessment centres have become a popular tool for employers to assess the skills and abilities of job applicants. Read on to learn more about virtual assessment centres!

Virtual Assessment Centres

What is a virtual assessment centre?

A virtual assessment centre is an online platform that allows employers to conduct recruitment assessments and evaluations for job candidates in a virtual setting. The purpose of an online assessment centre is to simulate real-life job situations online and evaluate your skills, competencies, and behaviour on the job.

Discover the key reasons why many employers are now often using virtual assessment centres in this short video:

Why Do Employers Use Virtual Assessment Centres? (2024) | Master in 5 Steps #shorts 

Wait, so how are virtual assessment centres different from more traditional in-person assessment centres? To find out more keep reading below!

Virtual assessment centres became more prevalent during the pandemic, with some employers still opting for more virtual screening methods. Here’s how they differ from traditional assessment centres conducted in-person. 

What is the difference between Virtual Assessment Centre and In-Person Assessment Centres?

Discover what to expect for your upcoming assessment centre with these key differences and importance between virtual and in-person assessment centres:

Virtual Assessment CentresIn-Person Assessment Centres
Can be conducted from anywhere with the availability of internet-connection.Require candidates to travel to a physical location.
Candidates completing exercises in their own environment have less monitoring in these centres.Provides a more controlled environment, with specific facilities and resources available.
Relies on technology for interactions with other candidates and the assessors, which can feel less natural.Involves face-to-face interactions between candidates and assessors.
Use tools such as e-trays and interactive situational judgement tests for job simulationsUse more traditional assessments such as  case studies, role-plays and group discussions.
Overall are more cost-effective and time-efficient for both candidates and the employer In-Person assessment requires travel and accommodation expenses which may not be covered by the employer

Did you know? Digital assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular in many industries and fields, including education, recruitment, and employee training & development. 

Maximize your chances of success in a virtual assessment center using the following simple tips!

Top 5 Tips to Pass your Virtual Assessment Centre

Here are 5 quick tips that you can use to ace any virtual assessment centre:

  1. Find a Quiet Place – Before you begin, choose a quiet and distraction-free environment. These tasks can require a lot of focus!
  1. Test Your Tech – Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the available technology by testing your microphone, camera, and internet connection in advance of the day.
  1. Be Prepared – As with many assessments, it’s important to be prepared. Get in the zone by getting a good night’s sleep the day before, doing light exercise and having breakfast!
  1. Stay Engaged – Actively participate and engage with other candidates in discussions. Show your ability to work well in a team during your breakout sessions.
  1. Pay attention to your body language – It’s still important to show your enthusiasm online. Keep relaxed eye contact with the camera, nod along to show listening and sit up straight.

What types of exercises can we expect in these assessment centres? Let’s find out the key activities you may take below!

Assessment Centre Exercises

We will now cover exercises or tasks you may be faced with during an assessment day.

What are the types of assessment centre exercises?

  • Group Exercises – Each candidate in the group plays a designated role in a simulated work event, such as a team meeting. The group is observed together by several assessors.
  • Presentation Exercises – Depending on the role and employer, you may present individually or as part of a group on a provided topic to an assessor.
  • In-Tray Exercises – A paper exercise in which you will deal with typical items related to the role, simulating the potential work environment of the position. This can include scheduling meetings and making calculations based on given data. 
  • Interviews – These may be competency-based (past experiences showing skills), behavioural, technical and/or strength-based, depending on the requirements of the role and company culture.
  • E-Tray Exercises – These tests measure your ability to prioritise and manage multiple tasks. A virtual assessment center uses e-tray exercises through an online platform that simulates a work email inbox. 
  • Written Exercises – These evaluate your ability to formulate logical and well-constructed responses, articulate thoughts, and express ideas clearly. This task will simulate a common task in the role and can include writing emails, reports or letters.

What do employers look for in assessment centres?

Each assessment centre test measures your abilities against specific competencies or skills the company is looking for and that is essential for the position you are applying for. These competencies are often commonly associated with high performance in the job.

Practice assessment centre exercises
Practice Assessment Centre Exercises

Boost your confidence through preparation with full assessment center example marking guides and top professional guidance with real assessment experience with our GF Assessment Centre Pack today.

Assessment Centre Exercise Example

The assessment exercises you will take are likely to depend on the role you’ve applied for, and often involve scenarios you will face. Therefore these exercises are likely tailored to the requirements of the role and will focus on different competencies depending on the company values.

Below, we have developed one of our assessment center examples. This is a role play exercise where you play the part of an HR Manager, which is often used during assessment centres.

You’re the HR manager of a medium-sized company. One of your employees is consistently underperforming. They are not meeting deadlines, making frequent errors, and not collaborating effectively with their team, according to their manager and colleagues. As a manager, you have also observed the employee’s performance issues.
TASKIdentify the employee’s underperformance and develop an improvement plan. Schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss their performance, provide feedback, and identify any barriers. Develop a performance improvement plan that outlines specific goals, expectations, and timelines.

Top 5 Tips to Ace your Assessment Centre Exercise

  1. Listen actively to the employee, acknowledging any concerns or problems they may have.
  1. Empathise with the employee and demonstrate that you want to support them to improve performance.
  1. Use positive body language and maintain a calm and professional tone of voice.
  1. Manage your time. The assessment may be timed, so ensure to keep an eye on the time to ensure you progress with the discussion at a good pace.
  1. Aim to resolve the issue in a way that works for both you, the team and the employee. Find the best compromise that matches the company values.

Good to know: The SHL Assessment Centre is a popular selection method used by many companies to assess the suitability of applicants for various positions.To prepare, research the company and the competencies that are likely to be assessed.

So which companies and industries use assessment centres such as these to measure your skills for the job? Continue reading as we find out below!

What Industries use Assessment Centres in Recruitment?

Assessment centres are used in a variety of industries to evaluate candidates for employment, promotion or training programmes. Some of the industries that frequently use assessment centres include:

  • Business and Management
  • Customer Service
  • Retail
  • Public Sector services
  • Consultancy
  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Manufacturing

Overall, assessment centers can be useful in any industry that requires a thorough evaluation of candidates’ skills, abilities, and potential for success in specific roles.

Which companies use assessment centres?

Here are just some of the companies that use assessment centres as part of their hiring processes:

IBMP&GBP (British Petroleum)

The use of virtual assessment is very common nowadays in companies such as KPMG. This is because you will need to demonstrate key skills in a remote setting, such as: communication skills, the ability to work under pressure, problem solving skills and knowledge of the industry and company. 

Good to know: It’s key to understand the industry and hone your skills ahead of time. You should also practice using the platform to get more familiar with the technology used.

Check out even more tips that you can use to succeed in your assessment centre.

Top Tips to Pass your Assessment Centres

Here are our 7 easy to follow tips when preparing for an assessment centre that you can use in order to get the best possible results during the assessment day and stand out:

  1. Research the Company: Before going to the assessment day, always do your homework on the business. Learn about their goals, core principles, and offerings. Research any current company news or developments.
  1. Prepare for the Exercises: Assessment centres frequently include a variety of activities, such as group projects, oral presentations, case studies, and interviews. Practice to become familiar with the structure of an assessment centre and these activities.
  1. Dress Smartly: A professional appearance will help you make a positive first impression at the examination centre. This applies for virtual assessment centres too!
  1. Be Punctual: Have time to settle down and take a seat by arriving at the assessment day on time or even a little early. If virtual, join the call 5 minutes before it begins. 
  1. Actively Engage: During group activities, be sure to participate fully and add to the conversation. Pay close attention to what other candidates have to say and build off of it. 
  1. Stay Positive: Try to remain upbeat and attentive throughout the evaluation centre, even if you feel anxious or overwhelmed. Take deep breaths and focus on the tasks at hand.
  1. Follow up: Contact the assessors or interviewers afterwards to express gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the assessment day. This indicates professionalism and demonstrates your continuous interest in the job.

Our Assessment Exercises are written by ex-SHL consultants. Our Assessment Centre practice bundle is packed with assessment centre examples including Case Study, In-tray, Presentation and Group Discussion and Role Play Exercises along with Full Assessor Marking Guides to help you gain insights into what your assessors are looking for.

Good to know: This is a great opportunity for you to ask recruiters at the assessment centre some questions too, such as about their career and the background of the company they work for, what they best like about the job or work area, and what the next steps in your application are.

Discover more about assessment centers with our FAQs to gain quick answers to even more questions people have about assessment centers.

Assessment Centre Exercises FAQs

What to expect at an assessment centre?

You may see the following things when setting up an Assessment Centre:

  • Learn about the assessors at an introduction and information session.
  • Communication, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork skills are demonstrated through group activities.
  • Role plays and presentations may be included in individual assessments.
  • In-tray assessment: an individual written task or exercise set on the day.
  • You may also answer questions about your suitability for the job during a final interview round.

What are assessment centres and the level of roles they are used for?

Assessment centres are designed to assess candidates skills for middle to senior management positions. These positions require specific skill sets, such as sales or technical roles. They can measure technical expertise, leadership qualities using simulated scenarios and 

Where are assessment centres held?

Assessment centres can be held in various locations such as company premises, conference centres, universities, or online. The location depends on the organisation and purpose of the assessment. Some employers hold assessments at their own facilities, while others may use external venues or online platforms.

What do I need to know before an assessment centre?

To get ready for your assessment centre, ensure to do the following to succeed:

  1. Understand the purpose
  2. Research the company
  3. Practice assessment exercises
  4. Practice good body language
  5. Dress appropriately
  6. Arrive on time

Practice for your upcoming assessment centre with our 10+ practice assessment centre tests and go further today!

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