Assessment centres and aptitude tests
Preparation and practise are crucial elements for getting through the stages of recruitment. The material in this section contains current information and practical activities to assist you with developing confident interview skills and preparing for other parts of the selection process.
Sometimes there is more to getting a job than just the interview, so make sure you are ready!
Assessment Centre are a recruitment process where a group of candidates are assessed against each other in back-to-back activities.
The assessments are held at the employer’s premises or at a recruitment consultancy, and can run over a half or full day. They are most commonly used by large companies and government departments, or when many people are being recruited at once.
The purpose of the Assessment Centre is for the employer to observe how you work; they are looking for your levels of self-awareness, ability to analyse information and situations, your comprehension of tasks, and how you operate as a team member.
Activities could include:
- individual or group activities
- interviews – individual or group group interviews
- case studies or written exercises
- testing – often psychometric or aptitude tests
- company information sessions
- independent assessment activity, sometimes called an ‘in-box’ activity
- social functions.
Group activities may involve:
- a practical activity, e.g. building a paper tower
- scenarios for a plan of action, e.g. planning an event
- problem-solving activities
- role playing
- discussions or debates
- verbal presentations of findings.
You must actively participate in the activity to be adequately assessed. The assessors will be looking for your ability to interact with others – an essential requirement in the workplace. You might also be assessed for intellect, adaptability, communication style, cooperation, negotiation, business sense and drive. Don’t dominate the group discussion: add to the discussion and encourage other group members to contribute their ideas too.
You might be asked to prepare a short presentation about a given topic.
- Plan your talk according to the time you’re given.
- Use visual aids if they’re provided and make sure they look professional.
- How you present yourself is as important as what you say.
- You’ll be judged on your ability to communicate with others and how you’d represent the organisation.
- If presenting the results of an activity, be prepared to argue in favour of your recommendations.
You may be asked to analyse information and then make a recommendation (written or verbal) based on your decisions. Often there’s a lot of information to review in a short time, so use a systematic approach and be prepared to explain the thinking behind your solutions.
Consider using SWOT analysis to help you manage your thought process when you’re presenting a case.
SWOT stands for:
- Research the company – its products, services, culture and strategic framework.
- Study the selection criteria for the position and prepare examples from your experiences to demonstrate your capabilities.
- Practice giving presentations to a friend or colleague.
- Dress professionally.
- Allow additional time for transport delays so you don’t arrive late or stressed.
- Be friendly and polite to everyone, starting with the receptionist. You’re 'on show' from the moment you walk in the door.
- Keep your focus on the task, not the assessors who will be moving around the room.
- Promote your strengths in the assessment.
- Don’t panic if you’re unhappy with your performance on one particular activity – you’ll be assessed across all the activities.
Sample selection centres provide examples of two typical selection centres. These should give you some idea of what to expect:
Aptitude tests often check literacy and numeracy, but they can also test your creativity, problem solving ability, communication and other skills.
How to prepare for online testing
- Find out what specific tests you will be asked to undertake
- Practice the tests in advance to ensure you are familiar with the format and the way the questions are asked
- Ensure your computer and browser are updated and suitable for conducting the test
- Allocate a quiet and undisturbed time when doing the test (put away your phone!)
- Have paper and pen ready beside you when taking the test
If your disability may impact on the assessment you are asked to complete, contact the company representative or the Human Resources department to let them know of your situation. Depending on your needs, employers can make suitable changes such as making visual adjustments, or extending time allowances.
These Practice Tests will give you a good idea of the types of tests you may be asked to do. They cover areas such as:
- numerical reasoning
- checking, speed, accuracy
- verbal reasoning
- personality profiling