5 Assessment Center Tips to Give You that Key Advantage

Assessment centers examine whether an applicant is suitable to fulfill a vacant role by undergoing certain tests and exercises. These events are becoming a popular part of the recruitment process and can give an employer a clear indication of which applicant is suitable for the role.

While the words ‘assessment’ and ‘tests’ might have you feeling a bit freaked out, these sessions can be the perfect time to showcase your skills and demonstrate why you are best suited for the position. These sessions also act as a great means to get to know the potential employer, providing you with an opportunity to better understand the work culture and how you can fit their specific brand.

So, how can you ace your assessment center like a pro?

1. Preparation is essential.

Any successful candidate will tell you how important preparation is in landing the job.  Make sure to read up on the company that you are applying to prior to the assessment. Check out their website, find out what the company stands for as well as what they have achieved and what their goals for the future are. Being able to link questions and comments back to the company will demonstrate your interest in the role and will impress your potential employer. Be sure to also read your job description inside and out to ensure you understand the type of candidate that the employer is looking for.

In addition, it pays to take as many practice tests and papers that you can find online before the big day. Employers will sometimes provide you with material that will be used at the assessment center, allowing you to practice and familiarise yourself with the tests beforehand. The tasks and tests will typically be made up of a selection of the following:

  • Ice breaker: This is usually a short exercise to introduce yourself to the group.
  • In-tray exercise: An activity that assesses the ability of the candidate to prioritize between different business-related tasks like emails, phone calls, and reports.
  • Group exercise: This usually involves general discussion over how to handle specific work scenarios.
  • Interview: These aren’t always offered at an assessment center, but it pays to be prepared just in case. Interviews can include discussing your background, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as specific questions about the role you have applied for.
  • Written exercise: These activities showcase your skills in structuring an essay or argument around tasks that will be performed in the role.
2. Be punctual.

Arriving 5-10 minutes before the designated time will allow you to land a great first impression right from the get-go. Chances are that you’re going to be pretty anxious about attending the assessment center, so being able to take the time to familiarise yourself with the environment will help to calm yourself and get in the right mindset. Arriving ahead of time will also allow you to meet and greet with anyone else who is attending, giving you a chance to break the ice early on.

There is no worse way to make a first impression than by being late. If you know you aren’t going to make it on time, try to give as much notice as possible to those who are running the assessment. Showing up late with no valid reason will insinuate to the employer that you aren’t serious about the role, setting you back from the competition before the assessment has even started.

3. Every part of the day is your chance to shine.

You are essentially being assessed from the minute you step through the door, so take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd. While it may be obvious to do your best to shine within designated activities set by the employer, it is also important to network and connects with those around you during breaks.

This might sound like a lot of socializing, especially to those who are more introverted in nature. Just remember, you are trying to join their team so being confident and friendly will actively highlight that you are a good fit for their company. Be passionate and engaging during conversations to let your voice be heard, but also keep in mind that it is just as important to listen and include others. Nobody likes to be steamrolled by someone else during a discussion.

4. Go easy on yourself.

Assessment centers are hard, they will not only cater to your strengths but will also act to highlight your weaknesses. It is important to be able to move forward if an activity hasn’t gone as well as you would’ve liked. Nobody is perfect and chances are you aren’t the only person to have felt less than thrilled about that exercise. Take a few deep breaths and try to put your full attention towards the next topic if you feel yourself dwelling over a previous exercise. It is very important to not allow one bad activity to ruin your performance as a whole.

5. Ask for feedback.

There is always room to improve, even if you are the successful applicant. Make sure to ask the assessors for feedback on your performance soon after an outcome is made, so that you are still somewhat fresh in their mind. This will allow you to know what areas to focus on and improve for the future. You might already have an idea of what these areas may be, other times you might surprise yourself by being stronger in an exercise you thought had gone poorly, or vice versa.


You will most likely be surrounded by other intelligent and capable individuals who will be gunning for the same position as you. Remember, you have made it this far and deserve to be there as much as anyone else. Don’t beat yourself up on any slip-ups you might have during the process. If you have put in the time and preparation beforehand, there is no reason why you won’t be able to succeed.


By Nicki Feutz.