Understand recruitment assessment

Many Australian organisations use assessment centres in their recruitment process to measure your competencies. These centres often involve your participation in individual and group activities.

Assessment centres are either a half-day or full-day event usually held in the organisation's building.

During an assessment centre you'll be required to participate in a number of challenging activities. Your performance in these activities will be used to assess your competencies in relation to the position you've applied for.

These activities are led by the Human Resources department and observed by assessors who will rate your performance against skills that are required for the role. Managers and professional assessors will also be present.


Assessment centres are proved to be effective in finding the best candidates for a job. They simulate real-life situations and allow employers to assess your:

  • performance
  • skills (eg teamwork, communication, negotiation, problem-solving, technical, leadership)
  • behaviours
  • interaction with others
  • preparation levels.


Assessment centres are usually structured the same way:

  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. A presentation about the organisation
  3. Ice-breaker/s
  4. Assessment activities (eg group exercise, role play, case study, presentation, psychometric tests or interview)
  5. Breaks (where you are also being assessed)

Types of activities

Targeted selection interviews

Prior to the interview, make sure you understand what attributes/skills the employer is looking for by reading through their website or through the questions you answered in your application.

You should also prepare a mini introduction to 'sell' yourself to the panel and show your enthusiasm at the beginning of the interview. During this introduction you should thank them for the opportunity to interview, tell them why you’re excited about the position and mention why you are an ideal candidate.

When answering behavioural style questions, make sure you use the STAR method:

  1. Situation/Task: A situation that demonstrates your strengths in that competency
  2. Action: Actions you took to address the situation
  3. Result: The end result of your action


For this activity, you are either able to choose or you may be allocated a topic. In some instances, the employer may give you the flexibility to choose an area or topic you are passionate about.

For presentations, make sure you plan ahead by creating a structure on the topic you want to present on (headings and key points). Make sure you practice multiple times either in front of your family or friends.

Aptitude tests (ability tests)

These are usually conducted online and measure your ability to complete key competencies of the position. They will also enable you to identify your key skills and weaknesses.

The skills that you will be tested on are:

  • Verbal Reasoning: spelling and grammar, understanding of words, sentences and grammar, and logical relationships
  • Non-Verbal/Abstract Reasoning: working out a rule or principle and relating it to another set of instructions or the like
  • Numerical Reasoning: from simple arithmetic to reasoning tests requiring you to draw inferences from some numerical data and using this to solve another problem
  • Clerical Speed and Accuracy: speed and accuracy in checking for errors in data and/or classification of sets of data
  • Spatial Reasoning: ability to rotate shapes in space
  • Mechanical Reasoning: diagrammatic mechanical problems

Make sure you:

  • listen to instructions
  • read questions carefully
  • ask questions if required
  • keep track of time
  • don’t dwell on questions for too long. Leave it and come back to it later
  • ask for feedback (unless it has been stated prior to test taking that feedback will not be given)

Role plays

Normally one-on-one, you will be given a set of information, instructions and time to prepare. You will then be expected to assume the role given.

Assessors will be looking for:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • How well you build rapport
  • Your understanding of the situation/issues
  • Your communication skills

It is important to take this exercise extremely seriously as it will demonstrate how well your skills correlate with the key competencies of the position.

Work simulations

You will need to interact in a situation you may encounter in the position. It can be done via computer or paper. The key is your ability to prioritise, multi-task and analyse information.

Find out what work you will be doing in your role and then try to predict what work scenarios may be used. This can help you determine which tasks should be prioritised.

Personality/self-report questionnaires

Personality tests are designed to find out more about you and your motivation, empathy and social skills. as well as how well you can ‘fit’ into the organisation. The key to personality tests is honesty and common sense. You should complete practice online personality tests in preparation for these tests.

When completing personality tests, make sure you:

  • are consistent when answering questions (ie answer similar questions in a similar way to show a stable personality)
  • read through the selection criteria and find out more about the role to determine the type of personality the assessors are looking for
  • don’t dwell on questions as it is usually timed
  • answer all the questions

Group exercises

You will be given a set of instructions and information about a situation/issue. After a set reading time, you will gather with your assigned group and work on the situation/issue at hand, whilst the panel of assessors watches on.

You should think of a time you had to work with a team requiring you to solve a problem and the processes and steps you took to achieve a positive result. Try to implement it into the exercise.

Make sure you:

  • read instructions and selection criteria carefully – define the problem and if possible, create a project plan
  • decide the team’s priorities and objectives
  • get your ideas across quickly – stand out of the group
  • involve others and actively listen to other people’s ideas – smile, nod, keep eye contact
  • keep track of time
  • find a consensus
  • diplomatically argue/defend your ideas – remember he/she who talks the loudest is not necessarily the most impressive

Find out more about assessment centres and get ready for them through our Career Centre.