Gone are the days where graduates only have to attend an interview when applying for a graduate job.

As the market has become more competitive, so have the recruitment and interview processes.

The result is that increasingly graduates are required to complete more rigorous assessments that could last for a number of hours or even an entire day.

The selection methods are more varied than ever before, ranging from panel interviews, online tests and team tasks to role-play exercises and presentations.

As a new graduate, facing a day of tests like these can be daunting to say the least, particularly if you aren’t sure what to expect.

Here are some quick do’s and don’ts to help ease your nerves and give you an idea of what it is that employers are looking for.


 Before the assessment day/centre:

DO read the information you have been given about the assessment day carefully. Remember to take any documents with you that they have asked for e.g. your passport.

DO prepare presentations and interview answers in advance (when required) and practice with a careers consultant or someone who you trust to give you honest feedback.

DO plan your outfit. Ensure that your clothes are smart and presentable.

DO ask questions if you have any.

But make sure that you haven’t already been given the information in other correspondence and be professional on the phone or by email.

DON’T leave your preparation until the last minute.


On the day:

DO arrive on time.

DO be friendly and polite to everyone you meet, from receptionists to your fellow participants. You are being assessed at all times.

DO act professionally throughout the day, even over lunch if you are still within the assessment centre.

DO read the instructions for all your tasks carefully. Try to follow any suggested time scales you might be given e.g. five minutes reading, 20 minutes writing and 5 minutes reviewing. These are provided to help you.

DO make eye contact with your assessors during interviews, for panel interviews remember to engage with all members of the panel.

DO take on a role such as time keeper, scribe or team leader during group tasks. Remember that this is your chance to show off as many skills as possible.

DO encourage quieter candidates to participate and share their views. This shows good team working and collaboration skills.

DO speak clearly and slowly during presentations, try not to look down and maintain good posture. Fiddling with clothes or bits of paper will be distracting for the assessor.

DON’T interrupt your fellow participants, you must show that you can work well in a team.

DON’T shy away from speaking or presenting during group exercises. If your voice isn’t heard then employers will have less to assess you on.

DON’T be put off by other participants during written or online tests. Focus on your own work and the task at hand.

DON’T be embarrassed during role play tasks. Normally you will be asked to imagine you are doing the job you have applied for. Therefore you should act as you would in the workplace and take the task seriously.


After the assessment centre:

DO take the time to email the employer within two days of the assessment centre to say thank-you for the opportunity to attend.

DO reflect on the day and think about what went well and what you found more difficult. This will be useful for future assessment centres or interviews.

DO ask for feedback if you are not successful.

DON’T be hard on yourself if you feel that you did not do as well as you hoped. Assessment centres are designed to test you and employers don’t expect candidates to perform perfectly. Use your experience to help you in future positions.

Good luck with your assessment centres! Please do get in touch with a Careers Consultant for tailored advice and guidance.

There are also plenty of resources on Engage and Engageplus: https://engage.westminster.ac.uk/students/faqs/detail/22/what-can-i-expect-at-assessmen

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