Survival of the fittest: Your essential guide to assessment centre success – Part II

Assessment centres are not exclusive to interns and graduates. People from all walks of life and at all levels in their career are also put through their paces in an assessment centre environment. In fact, some CEO’s face the wrath of a panel of assessors like you are about to as well, so you’re not alone!

In Part I we looked at the best ways to prepare for your assessment centre, now we will turn our attention to what you need to do on the day itself.
1. First impressions

As with any other interview you will attend, dress smartly. Nobody has ever had bad results at an interview for being overdressed, but looking sloppy can halt your chances before you’ve even begun. Eye contact, a firm handshake and positive body language are a must, so be sure to smile, greet your assessor and arrive ready to start the day.

 2. Psychometric testing
This form of testing is designed to assess your potential to perform in a job role. Research has shown that this is an important method of testing key skills, but ultimately does not gauge who is best suited for a role. This will often be the first stage in your assessment day, and as such is one that you need to master.

These tests can range from numerical reasoning and personality testing, to logic and aptitude tests. Practice is the key here so take time to find out exactly what you need to know before taking it.

3. Group Tasks
Group exercises are key aspects of any assessment day – they are designed to test skills including teamwork, communication, and identify both leaders and followers within a group. The task will usually be directly relevant to the role you have applied for, and will always test key skills directly related to the job itself.

The most common task you will experience here is the practical task. Put simply, the group will be given a task to complete, and will be judged on how well they succeed. This test can range from building towers from spaghetti (true story), listing products based on target markets, or even agreeing which order a set of pictures should be in to tell a story.

4. Role-play exercises
This type of challenge can be either in a one-on-one scenario, or as a group pitching an idea. These tests are designed to show how well you would perform in real-life scenarios, only in a simulated environment and allows employers to test your teamwork ability, negotiation skills, time management and presentation skills.

To succeed at this test, you will need to communicate well with your team; first of all – define what the end-goal of the exercise is. Is it to encourage a sale of a product? To ensure a customer leaves happy? Listen to everything your assessor says – part of the test is listening out for any red herrings in the instructions.

5. The one-on-one interview

This is the coup-de-grace of your assessment day. More often than not, only the best candidates will get here, so congratulations!

This stage is deliberately held last. It’s at this point the candidates are tired, hungry, and most will want to go home. This is a test of just how well you cope not only with stressful situations, but with how you react to continual pressure. Can you still perform? The very fact that you’ve reached this stage shows that you’ve got the skills to perform the role; what you need to do now is to reassure the assessor that their decision to keep you was a good one.

As with any interview, confident body language and concise answers is key. Don’t feel pressured to answer straight away; interviewers know the questions they ask are difficult – so a pause in conversation is perfectly acceptable.

6. The loudest candidate is usually the weakest

This may go against many things you’ve heard – surely the person whose voice is heard over the noise is the one people take notice of? That is true to a degree, but speaking for the sake of being heard is a quick way to lose the respect of those assessing you.

Listen, observe and speak with confidence to the people around you. There are a number of tasks you can be asked to do at an assessment day, including group logic challenges, tests of how well you listen to instructions, and the dreaded ‘what would you take with you on a desert island’ task.

7. Observe, think, and then comment
When you inevitably come across these challenges, you need to stop and consider what exactly your assessor is trying to gauge here. Are they looking to see how well you work in a team? How well you can get your point across, perhaps? Whilst completing the task is often your first instinct, there are many occasions where it is actually a secondary focus.

8. Networking
Regardless of whether or not you get the role you want – you’ve just found yourself in a room full of aspiring industry professionals! What luck! You’d be amazed at just how many leads can come from acquaintances who have become familiar with your work – make sure to capatalise on this.


Assessment days can be among the most stressful things anyone can go through – they’re designed to be. We at Intern Avenue believe that after jumping through the hurdles and coming out on top, you deserve a fair wage for your time. Once you have entered the assessment centre, you’re on your own – but until then, we can help you prepare for the day and make sure you arrive with total confidence!

If you’re looking for a paid internship, visit us at, and let the employers come to you!


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