Activities at assessment centres


What employers are looking for differs, depending on the organisation, but generally they’re looking for you to demonstrate:

  • Leadership skills: taking responsibility and being able to set goals, motivating and directing other team members
  • Communication skills: interacting confidently with other group members
  • Collaborative potential: working well with others to achieve a goal
  • Adaptability: taking in new information and analysing it promptly
  • Impact: that you are someone others listen to
  • Persuasiveness: powerful in bringing others to your point of view

Research more on Prospects and TargetJobs.

What to expect

Assessment centres typically last 1 - 2 days. Some may involve an overnight stay in a company training centre or hotel. They give an employer the chance to observe you in a variety of situations and measure your performance against a set of competencies - not other candidates - in a fair and accurate way.

Activities can involve some or all of the following, with candidates often working together in groups of 6-8.

Case studies

You will be given documents relating to a hypothetical or real-life situation. You may be asked to analyse the information and give a brief presentation or written report of your recommendations.

Work as quickly and as accurately as you can. When presenting your conclusions, be as clear as possible and don’t be afraid to disagree with the selector if you feel you’ve made the right decision.

Group exercises

These can be varied and involve practical tasks, case studies and/or group discussions. Read the brief properly and try to understand the information clearly. Be assertive, diplomatic and support any good ideas coming out of the group.

The aim is to help the group achieve its task, so work well with the others – remember you’re not in competition with each other.

Informal social events

You’re being assessed from the moment you walk in the door, so be polite to everyone, be confident and ask interesting questions. Don’t eat or drink too much and try to keep your concentration levels high, you could be in for a long day.


You may have a number of interviews with different members of staff in the organisation.

In-tray or e-tray exercises

Involves being given an in-tray of memos, reports, emails, etc. along with information on the organisational structure and your position within it.

Prioritise and delegate tasks effectively, demonstrating you can handle complex information and make good decisions under pressure.


You may be asked to choose a topic to prepare in advance, or be given one on the day. Try to establish what technology will be available and who your audience will be.

Your presentation should have a clear structure with a beginning, main body and a conclusion. Leave time for questions at the end. Be clear and concise – use bullet points.

If you can, practice your presentation in advance, ideally with someone who can give you constructive criticism. You’ll be more successful if you remember to smile, keep good eye contact with the audience and use prompt cards, rather than reading from a script.