Tips for Assessment Centre Tasks & Exercises

Assessment centres are often the final stage of the job application process. We talk through the most common tools used by companies in assessment centres, what they’re looking for and tips to help you give it your best.
These are the types of task you might be asked to take part in:

Group Exercises

Case Studies


Role Play

In-tray / E-tray Exercises

Psychometric Testing


Social Activities e.g. dinner or drinks
Group Exercise

Group Exercises

These could be problem-solving tasks, discussions, case studies, presentations or role-play.

What are they looking for?

The task itself may be unimportant and there is often no right or wrong answer. Employers are more interested in how candidates interact and reach a solution.

They look for qualities like self-confidence, flexibility, communication, planning, problem-solving, awareness of others and Interpersonal skills.

Remember they are not necessarily looking for leadership, but more often someone who can work effectively within a team.




Most important – get involved! If you say nothing, it’s impossible for the assessor to appreciate your qualities. Even if you don’t have a view to put across, you can ask questions, challenge what others have said, or build on their ideas.

Be a good team player. Put across your own ideas, but show that you are open to others; be supportive, flexible and willing to compromise. Contribute but don’t dominate.

Show respect. Listen to others’ opinions, without interrupting. Avoid being confrontational even if you disagree, remain

Be organised. Stick to the point of the task and be aware of time.  If you feel the group is digressing, try to get them back on track.

The group will be more effective if efforts are synchronised; one good way to be proactive and demonstrate your organisational skills is to adopt the coordinator role:

Own the flipchart – offer to note down the main ideas to keep track and summarise the group’s conclusions.

Or volunteer to be chairman – get people to contribute, keep them on task and guide them to a solution within the required timeframe.

Group Exercises at Assessment Centres – Target Jobs

Case Studies

This sort of task may require a written response or discussion.  You are given information about a work-related scenario. You will be required to analyse a situation, present findings and make recommendations; there will probably be no obvious solution.

What are they looking for?

How you cope with unfamiliar tasks, analytical and problem-solving skills, commercial awareness, decision-making, communication, time management.



Read the information carefully but quickly.

Identify the most important factors.

Be decisive. There will probably be no right or wrong answer, it is more important that you can justify your recommendations.

Implications – Be aware of how your decisions would affect all parties involved in the case study.


Case Studies at Assessment Centres – Target Jobs

Presentations illustration


You may have been asked to prepare in advance, or you might be given a topic on the day.

What are they looking for?

Ability to structure a presentation, clarity of thought, communication skills, self-confidence, time management.

Presentation tasks are often designed to test speed; you might have minimal preparation time, you’ll have to think on your feet when handling questions, and you’re highly likely to run out of time when presenting.  Just be aware of this, do your best and don’t panic.


Tip: Preparation


A great method to focus your thoughts, present them succinctly and keep to your time limit.
And the right amount of content for your audience to digest and remember.


Ideas: Think of 3 main points to get across

Structure your presentation:
1.  Tell them what you’re going to tell them
2.  Tell them
3.  Tell them what you have told them

Presentation slides:  3 bullet points per slide

Conclusion:  3 key ideas or action points


Be mindful of the time limit when structuring your presentation and whilst presenting.

Know your audience – it could include other candidates and employees, as well as assessors; consider their knowledge of the subject and tailor your presentation accordingly.

Anticipate likely questions and prepare answers.

Have an opinion! Even if you’re not very familiar with a topic, you should have a view and be able to justify your thinking; if you’re unable to answer a question, you could admit you don’t know but suggest how you might find out.



Tips: Presenting

Practise presentations!

Engage with your audience. Make eye contact.  Show enthusiasm.

Communicate clearly. Speak slowly and make use of available visual aids if they will help.


Presentations at Assessment Centres – Target Jobs

Role Play

This usually reflects a business scenario related to the position you are applying for. You will be briefed on a situation where you are required to interact with others to achieve a particular objective.

Recruiters are increasingly using actors to play a role e.g. a demanding employer or a disgruntled customer.

What are they looking for?

Communication and problem-solving skills, self-confidence, flexibility and awareness of others



Tips: Role Play

Ask questions to find out the facts.

Stay calm and avoid confrontation.

Be receptive and positive. Engage in the exercise.

If necessary, demonstrate flexibility and willingness to compromise.


In Tray Exercise - Assessment Centre


Role Play Exercises – Assessment Centre HQ

In Tray or E Tray Exercises

A business simulation, where you are given a full in-tray of work like emails, messages, reports, correspondence etc. You will be required to analyse the contents and then explain how you would deal with them.

What are they looking for?

They will want to see that you understand the logic behind this task – recognition of importance and urgency, and the ability to prioritise accordingly.

Skills involved: understanding and processing information quickly, commercial awareness, analysis, decision-making, planning and organisation, communication skills and working under pressure.



Tips: In-Tray/E-Tray Exercises

The key is to prioritise, then process the work.

Assess the importance and urgency of each item.
Have clear criteria e.g. budget and time – take into account whoever sent the item, whom/what it concerns and the likely consequences.

Sort work into 4 piles, in this order of priority:

Important & urgent

Important, not urgent

Urgent, not important

Not urgent, not important – you can discard these

Process in a logical manner.
Starting with the most important and urgent, explain how you would deal with each item:

What action needs to be taken? Consider the implications for all concerned.

How are you going to deal with it (or will you delegate)?

Who do you need to involve or inform?



In-Tray Exercises at Assessment Centres – Target Jobs

Psychometric Testing

You will probably be set numerical, verbal & non-verbal aptitude tests (to validate tests you have done online, earlier in the application process). See Psychometric Testing


The Assessment Centre is likely to include interviews with HR and managers from relevant departments.
See Interviews

Find out more about Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres & Pyschometric Tests – Job Test Prep
See list of companies, for information on their recruitment processes – including Assessment Centres & Pyschometric Tests.
Practice tests available (usually for a fee)
Tips for various types of Assessment Centre tests
Assessment Centres – Target Jobs
General tips including in-tray exercises, presentations, case studies & group assessments.
Assessment Day – Assessment Centre HQ
Detailed guide including practice packs to purchase

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