by Kate Russell

Assessment centres

An assessment centre is a process in which candidates undertake a range of different activities, all designed to allow them to demonstrate their skills while being observed.


  • They are far more accurate than a standard recruitment process as they allow a broader range of selection methods to be used during the process.
  • They enable interviewers to assess existing performance as well as predict future job performance.
  • They give the opportunity to assess and differentiate between candidates who seem very similar - in terms of quality - on paper.
  • They give the candidates a better insight into the role as they are tested on exercises, which are typical for the role they have applied for.
  • They help employers build an employer brand. Candidates who attend assessment centres which genuinely reflect the job and the organisation are often impressed by that company, even if they are rejected.
  • The cost of an assessment centre is usually cheaper compared with the potential cost of many recruitment phases and the cost of recruitment errors.
  • They are a fair process – they complement an organisation’s diversity agenda and ensure that people are selected on the basis of merit alone.

Typically, an assessment centre will include the following components:

  • An interview
  • Preparation and delivery of a presentation
  • Aptitude tests and personality profiling
  • Group exercises at which participants are observed.

This enables the recruiting company to amass information in much more depth than an interview alone could provide.

You must ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to enable candidates with a disability to participate.

To choose the exercises for selecting candidates at an assessment centre, conduct a job analysis and prepare a job description and competency profile. The exercises selected should be relevant to the role.

Make sure you create a level playing field for internal and external candidates. Assessors should not use prior knowledge about internal candidates when scoring them.

Be prepared to provide meaningful feedback to candidates who have attended an assessment centre.

The process can be costly, but its success rate is likely to be in the region of 85 per cent.

The information that is gathered by an assessment centre about the successful candidate can be carried forward into their personal development plan.