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Assessment centres and ability tests

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Published: 30 July 2020

Two hands shaking

Careers, Employability and Enterprise Manager at the University of Sunderland in London, Alice McDougall, takes you through what happens after you get invited to an assessment day. Get top tips to help you secure the job of your dreams.

“If your application to a graduate-level role gets past the first stage - shortlisting - you could be invited to an assessment day.

This involves a number of activities, often with other candidates, aimed at working out if you’re the candidate they want to hire.

They can include:

  • Inbox exercises
  • Group work activities
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability tests
  • Personality tests
  • Discussions 
  • Role-play exercises

Read more about assessment centres

How can you prepare for an assessment day?

Test yourself

Some companies examine your speaking skills or ability with numbers so it’s a good idea to do some practice before the day. 

There are loads of books and online tests you can try, including:

Your performance

Remember that you’re being assessed at every stage of the event so be polite and friendly at all times. 

Be aware of how much you’re listening, talking, offering ideas, responding to others and including the other people in the conversation. 

Focus on understanding the instructions for the activity, and try to stand out.

You should also make an effort to chat with your fellow candidates at break times. 

Self-awareness

Knowing yourself, your skills, strengths and weaknesses can really help your performance. To learn more about assessing your own abilities visit the Sunderland Futures website.

Research the company

Make sure you really understand the company: 

  • What do they do?
  • Who are their customers?
  • What is their position in the market? 

Look at their finance reports, company beliefs, social media accounts etc.

Understand the industry

You should also have a good knowledge of the sector – current issues which might be having an effect on it, changes in technology, competition, policy etc.

The role

Read the job description and person specification again before the event. Make sure you’re clear on the job role and the kind of person they’re looking for.”

To get more information on assessment centres visit:

To talk through assessment days, applications, CVs or anything else about your career after graduation, book a one-to-one appointment with the Careers and Employability team. You can email them at careers-london@sunderland.ac.uk or visit their website to find out more.

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