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What Are Assessment Centre Interviews?

Published: Monday 18th May 2015

Extremely large team on a board meeting

With an increasing number of organisations using assessment centres as a final stage to their recruitment process, what do they entail?

Assessment centres are set up for employers to observe how candidates act and react in a variety of settings and tasks designed to simulate the workplace and desired role-specific skills. Assessment centres may range from half a day to up to three full days, depending on the role and the company, and can be held in company offices or occasionally even in a residential setting, such as a hotel. Candidates are assessed in a group setting with other people who are competing for the same position or for several similar vacancies.

Each company will have its own way of approaching and setting up assessment centres but the general types of exercises candidates can expect to face are broadly similar. Below is Zoek’s guide on what to expect at an assessment centre interview.

Group Exercises

One of the main functions of an assessment centre is for employers to observe how candidates react in group settings. They are looking for candidates who can work well in a team, effectively communicate ideas and support others. The temptation among candidates is to try and take over the group but this is often viewed in a negative way by recruiters. Show leadership skills by ensuring the group completes its task and also support in keeping the group on task if people digress.


Public speaking and presentations are a daunting prospect for a lot of people. Here recruiters are looking at how well candidates can process information and communicate it to others. The role you are applying for may not require regular presentations, but this task is designed for you to show off a range of transferable skills. Nervous speakers will tend to speed up so take a deep breath and slow yourself down if that is the case.

In-Tray Exercises

A full in-tray of important tasks, emails and messages all competing for attention can be stressful and difficult to manage. The point of this task is to find out how candidates deal with stress, approach time management and prioritise tasks. Candidates need to prioritise each task and for those given a lower priority, need to explain why they have been put to the bottom of the pile.

Written Tests

Any role which requires good communication skills, such as writing emails, reports and communicating with customers or clients could include this. It could involve writing or rewriting a piece of content, drafting a report or replying to a detailed email. Recruiters are looking for communication skills and the ability to understand, absorb and communicate information.

Role Play

Customer and client facing roles are more likely to include this. Scenarios could include two candidates set up as a disgruntled customer and an assistant playing through a scenario. Successful candidates need to display a calm, logical but empathetic manner and be confident in offering a resolution. Recruiters are looking for problem-solving and communication skills.

Psychometric Testing

These tests are used to find out how a candidate thinks and determine whether they would be a good fit for the company’s culture. Employers want to find out a candidate’s psychological state and see how it relates to their business and company values. The best course of action is to answer questions in an open and honest way. To prepare, try an online version to get an idea of the questions you could face.

One-To-One Interviews

Though the point of assessment centres is often to see how candidates respond in a variety of group settings, it is still highly likely there will be a face-to-face interview. This may happen at any point during the assessment centre. Make sure to be open and honest as any skills discussed will likely be tested and observed during the assessment centre.

Want to get ahead fast? If you are searching for a job in your local area, why not try our Zoek App. For faster, smarter recruiting Zoek is the recruitment app that lets the jobs come to you. Available to download for free on iPhone or Android.

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