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Recruitment assessment centres

Typical activities in recruitment assessment centres

Assessment centre formats differ from organisation to organisation. But there are some common themes that you’re likely to experience.

Group exercises

By observing how you work within a group, the employer gets a feel for how you perform as part of a wider team. Exercises might include role-play situations, working on case studies, brainstorming exercises, practical hands-on assignments and problem-solving tasks.

I think one of the things with group exercises to remember is there is no right or wrong. What we're looking for here is the ability to work as part of a group, to come up with a solution. It actually doesn't matter what the solution is. It's about how you get to that, and how you work together as a group.

Ruth Stokes - Head of Recruitment, KPMG.


You should expect to have an interview at some stage of the assessment centre. It may be competency based, strength based or a technical interview or even a combination of all three. It could also be with a panel or a one-to-one interview. See the job interviews: an overview article for tips.


You may be asked to give a presentation as part of your assessment centre, either an individual or with the other candidates in the group. The employer may also give a presentation too.

Role play

Using role play scenarios lets employers observe how you respond in tricky situations. The assessor will compare your reactions and conduct with the skills required for the job you're interviewing for.

Role play is often the worst liked task from a candidate's perspective, and I can really empathise with that feeling, because you're put into a kind of fake situation that perhaps you don't really know what we're looking for. But what we can guarantee you is that, before you do the role play, we'll give you a lot of information to read and time to prepare for that role play. We're not expecting you to know how to do everything right in our business straight away, but just demonstrating those basic abilities in that role play.

Charlie Leake - Corporate Human Resources Supervisor, Enterprise

In-tray exercises

These can be paper-based exercises or performed on a computer. The activities test a number of skills including your time-management, your decision-making processes, how you interpret information and data and how you approach problems and organise tasks.

Social interaction

Even when you feel that you're ‘off duty’ during the assessment centre – during tea and lunch breaks, for example – you’re still being observed and assessed, so be aware! Keep your interactions warm, professional and engaging and avoid topics of conversation that could cause debate or offence.

Emotional intelligence assessments

This type of assessment is designed to understand your emotions and of those around you. The questions tend to be scenario-based to see how you approach, think and act in specific situations.

Technical assessments

A technical assessment puts your skills to the test and highlights your ability and practical knowledge for the role. The questions or task will relate directly to the job so studying the job description and person specification will put you in a strong position to answer these.

Written exercises

Depending on the job role and requirement a written exercise might be presented. You may be given data to decipher and sort or be asked to outline a proposal or draft a letter.

Last updated 3 years ago