How to prepare for an Assessment Centre

The assessment centre can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you’ve never attended one before. This method of selecting candidates is one of the most effective ways for employers to recruit as it lets them see you in action over the course of a whole day and gives them much more insight into how you might perform if you were offered the role.

It goes without saying that thorough preparation is key to acing the assessment centre so I won’t even begin to insult you with tips about knowing what the company does and why your skills, strengths, values and attributes fit well in that environment. For further reading, a couple of good sources of information about the assessment centres are:

Both of which give a lot of detail about what you can expect and how to do well (although it does differ from employer to employer). They even have practice exercises available for free so it’s worth a visit to both of those sites. I also wanted to give you a bit of food for thought about other potential face fall points to watch out for…

  1. Recognise that you deserve to be there. Only a select few get through the early stages of the recruitment process so don’t succumb to imposter syndrome. You represent both yourself and the Henley Business School tribe – hold your head up and be confident that they want you there!
  2. Don’t let phone separation anxiety trip you up. Turn your phone off for the day – you’re also being observed during apparent break times so don’t treat these parts of the day as a chance to catch up on your whatsapp chats, instead give the people you’re with some actual face time.
  3. Assessors use the loo too! Be aware during break times that assessors might be in the same breakout areas and use the same facilities as you so be careful what you’re saying to other candidates about the process and the other people there.
  4. Eat enough – if your assessment centre starts at 1pm don’t assume lunch will be provided. A long afternoon trying to perform well when you’re hangry could turn into a long afternoon of pain and lead to poor performance. Similarly, a day long experience might mean you need to squirrel in a few small snacks to keep you going before and after lunch – biscuits often don’t hit the spot.
  5. Watch the caffeine – another small but important practicality to watch out for is that there is often lots of tea and coffee on offer and it might mean that you drink more than you’re used to. Keep refreshed and clear headed with plenty of water!
  6. Be courteous to all. It’s often the case that various staff members are involved in the assessment of candidates – assume that anyone you come in to contact with will be involved in a feedback process and therefore extend the same courtesy to all the people you interact with on the day.


Sarah Rourke, Careers Consultant at Henley Business School