8 Tips For Graduate Assessment Centre Success

This graduate assessment centre guide includes practice tests, top tips and insider secrets for success. Let’s get started.

Graduate Assessment Centre

1 Useful Starting-Point Resources

In a moment we’ll share out top tips for success, but let’s quickly cover some basics.

What Is A Graduate Assessment Centre?

A graduate assessment centre is an event held by large companies to determine whether a candidate’s skills and personal attributes are a good fit for the business and role they have applied for.

How long does a graduate assessment centre last?

Graduate assessment centres usually last for 1 full working day, but sometimes they can by 2 days long. (And in rare cases, a whopping 3 days!)

graduate assessment centre

What’s the format of the day?

Expect your day to start with some kind of welcome talk or presentation. Then the assessment exercises will begin.

Give yourself an advantage & prepare perfectly

Click here to download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet

What Kind Of Assessment Exercises Will There Be?

The exercises will vary based on the role you have applied for, but below you will see a list of all of the exercises that are commonly carried out at graduate assessment centres. You will definitely do 3 or 4 of these exercises at your graduate assessment centre.

(Note: The links below will take you to the area of our site that teaches you how to succeed in each assessment.)

  • Presentations: This exercise will assess your ability to create, display and deliver a presentation. How clearly can you communicate a message?
  • Group exercises: Here you will be assessed on your ability to interact in a group setting. These exercises are competitive and nerve-wracking. Success in group exercises is a delicate art.
  • Role-plays: You’ll be expected to play a part in an imaginary scenario that will closely reflect one which could appear in the role you have applied for.
  • In-tray exercise: This exercise is a business simulation and it will be your task to act as a staff member dealing with a typical workload.
  • A technical/trade test, dependent on your area of expertise.
  • Interviews: You will face a series of competency-based/experience-based/skill-based and hypothetical questions to gauge your suitability for the role.

What Are Assessors Looking For At A Graduate Assessment Centre?

The assessors at a graduate assessment centre are assessing candidates’ intelligence and personality.

Specifically, they are assessing candidates’ suitability to the role and company values.

Nearly all companies work to a defined set of values and/or competencies. It is vital, absolutely vital, that you find out what they are.

To find out a company’s competences look on their website or contact their HR department. This information is usually found under the ‘about us’ section and may be referred to as values/beliefs/code/competencies.

Want to know how to onto a graduate scheme? Check out this useful Guardian article: Getting Onto Graduate Schemes: A Guide To Assessment Centres.

Graduate Assessment day

8 Tips For Graduate Assessment Centre Success

Here’s are 8 tips which will help you succeed at your graduate assessment centre.

1) You Are Always Being Assessed

Whether you are taking part in an exercise or eating lunch with fellow candidates, you are being assessed and observed.

You must remember to remain polite and enthusiastic at all times, not just during the exercises.

Don’t ‘let your guard slip’ during breaks periods. Don’t complain about traffic or the weather. Or anything. You are Mr/Mrs Positivity to everyone, all day.

Don’t ‘let your guard slip’ during breaks periods. Be your best professional self all day.

2) When Participation Is Required, Participate

Graduate assessment centres can be intimidating. Sometimes it is all too easy to fade into the background and let others take the lead.

Do not allow this to happen. You are there to be assessed and that is much easier to do if you are active within the sessions.

It is important to be vocal during question and answer sessions and during group work.

Offer ideas. Be creative. Make suggestions. Make sure that you have questions for your interviewer. Do not be a passive object. Project the image of a thriving, intelligent and dynamic employee-of-the-future!

graduate assessment centre

3) Treat Your Graduate Assessment Centre Like An Exam

We’ll be blunt: You must put the effort in to prepare for your graduate assessment centre or you will probably fail. It’s simple as that.

Practice graduate assessment centre exercises.

Read our success guides.

Nothing will improve your confidence and competence more effectively than repeated practice.

4) Dress To Impress

Dress professionally. Groom yourself. Walk tall. Smile. Make a pleasant first impression.

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Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy

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5) Research The Company

Research the company and understand their ethos and what drives them. You must know their history and their plans for the future.

Action point: Stop reading this guide and go and Google the company’s annual report. This will be a treasure trove for you.

Find out what they look for in an employee. Speak to people within the company and make sure you know the role’s job description like the back of your hand.

graduate assessment centre

6) Take Good Care Of Yourself

Your well-being matters. It is important to get enough sleep, food and exercise if you want your brain and body to function at full capacity.

No booze or late nights in the build-up to the event. Get an early night beforehand. Exercise before the event to burn off nervous energy.

7) Practice Psychometric And Aptitude Tests

These tests are timed. You are being benchmarked against the other candidates down to tenths of a second. Not being familiar with these tests will slow you down by around 20%.

There is always a tight time frame to answer the questions set, so it is vital that you are prepared.

You can practice graduate assessment centre tests here.

graduate assessment day

8) Confidence Is Key

Show your assessors that you are confident by being pro-active and asking questions. Smile. Use lots of eye contact.

Aim to project an image that says: ‘I am comfortable here because I have belief in my abilities’.

Assessment centres are tough and demanding events. Your preparation will determine your success.

The all-conquering importance of practice

If you’re serious about succeeding at your graduate assessment centre you must take the time to practice each of the assessment exercises you will face at the event.

We can give you great tips and advice, sure, but it’s down to you to put the preparation hours in.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from long experience it’s that preparation is the difference between success and failure. Successful candidates are consistently better-prepared than unsuccessful ones.

Useful Practice Resources


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assessment centre