A combination of the following activities may be used:
Psychometric and aptitude tests
These are timed (often multiple choice) tests, taken under examination conditions, and designed to measure your intellectual capability for thinking and reasoning. The tests will be carefully designed for the role you have applied to and although challenging, will not usually depend on any prior knowledge or experience. Firms will sometimes provide links to sample questions, or you can search for some online. Even if the firm doesn't provide you with sample questions you should still be able to find other practice tests online that assess the same or similar competencies (look at our page on psychometric tests to find out how to access the ones that the Careers Services subscribes to).
Prior to sitting a test try to ensure you:
- Practice beforehand, in similar conditions to those you will face on the assessment day e.g. time yourself, and with numerical tests practice without using a calculator
- On the day of the test:
- pay careful attention to the instructions and ask for clarification if you don't understand them;
- be aware of the time limit and work as quickly and accurately as you can.
For more information and tips, see our webpage on psychometric tests.
In-tray / e-tray exercises
This exercise is usually carried out on a computer, but may be on paper. You will have access to an email inbox where messages, reports and telephone queries will appear. You will be expected to take decisions on each item: deciding priorities, drafting replies, delegating tasks, recommending action to superiors, and so on. The exercise is designed to test how you handle complex information within a limited time period, so organisations will be looking to see how you perform under pressure. Some organisations will also want to know why you have made certain decisions and may ask you to annotate items or discuss your actions in a follow-up discussion.
In this exercise you will usually be set a task/problem that is reflective of the type of work you would be expected to do if you were to join the firm. The case study can take place within a range of different contexts, e.g. an interview, a group exercise, presentation or as a written exercise. You may be told, or be able to find out, what format it will take.
In this exercise you are being tested on your ability to analyse information, to think clearly and logically, to work under time pressure, to exercise your judgement and to express yourself on paper or verbally (see 'Presentations' below). Case studies are often designed so there isn't one obvious right answer or 'correct' response. The selectors will be looking to see how you worked to come to your solution / decision and that you can justify your recommendations. Each organisation will develop case studies that reflect the type of work that they do. See our webpages for further information on Consulting Case Studies and Legal Case Studies
Interviews that take place as part of an assessment centre can vary; these could be competency based or technical, with one interviewer or a panel. These are likely to be much more in-depth than any interviews you experienced during the first stages of selection, and could be with someone from the department/division to which you are applying. Interviewers may take the opportunity to probe further on the answers you gave at an earlier interview, so reflect back and think about answers you have previously given. Questions may also refer back to other assessment centre activities you have taken part in or to aptitude test results. Be prepared to be challenged on your answers, but keep calm, consider your answers, and avoid being defensive. You may be asked many of the same questions that you were asked previously. Don't assume that your interviewer is familiar with the answers you gave at that stage; treat this subsequent discussion independently. See our interview webpages for further information.
These provide you with more information about the organisation and the job roles available. Listen carefully, as such information is likely to be more up-to-date than your previous research and may be useful for subsequent interviews. If you are unclear about anything - ask. This is also a great opportunity to really clarify whether this organisation or job is for you.
These give you the opportunity to meet a variety of people – including other candidates, the selectors, recent graduates, and senior management. They are excellent opportunities for you to find out more about the organisation, and to ask questions in an informal setting. Although these events may be billed as informal and not a part of the assessment process, you should still behave in a way that will reflect well on you.