Careers and Entrepreneurship

Assessment centres

Find out what you can expect at an assessment centre and how to prepare

What is an assessment centre?

Assessment centres are common in the recruitment for placements, summer internships and graduate schemes.

They give employers the opportunity to assess large groups of candidates to see how they perform individually and during collaborative tasks.

Lasting one or two days, assessment centres are usually held after selection tests and before a final interview

What are employers assessing?

Employers are assessing your skills in:

  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Communication and decision making
  • Organisation and planning 
  • Negotiation and persuasion 
  • Commercial awareness 

What to expect

Graduates First offers a range of resources to help you prepare for e-tray exercises, presentations, group discussions and case studies. It also provides information on what assessors will be looking for in each of these tasks. Students can gain access with their Sussex email address. Graduates will need to contact us for access. 

How to prepare and ace an assessment centre

  • Find out as much as you can about the assessment centre so you know what you expect.
  • Research the role and organisation and prepare some questions to ask at networking events.
  • Revisit the job description and familiarise yourself with the competencies for the job - think about how you can demonstrate them during the assessment.
  • Prepare for giving a presentation - practise timings, content and pacing. 
  • Be assertive and contribute but avoid dominating group tasks unless you are the leader. 
  • Keep in mind that you're always being observed - including at networking events. 
  • Practise in-tray or e-tray exercises and selection tests before the day.
  • Read our information on preparing for interviews.
  • Read Graduates First's information on specific graduate employers' assessment centres. 

Recent graduates give their tips on preparing for assessment centres 

Requesting reasonable adjustments 

If you have a disability or long-term condition, you can request reasonable adjustments for an assessment centre. Read our information on telling an employer about a disability if you are unsure about how to proceed.