Assessment centre: overview

Welcome to this blog on an overview of assessment centres! Every firm has a slightly different recruitment process but here, you’ll find an overview of the most common exercises that you may encounter on your day. There are links throughout to more detailed blogs on the individual exercises.

1 – Group exercise

You will probably encounter some form of group exercise. Here are the 2 most common types:

1 – Solve a problem

Similar to an ‘escape room’ concept…without the locked doors. You will presented with a problem and then as a group, you have to solve the issue. This could be a client scenario or a puzzle.

2 – Innovation

In this group exercise, the group must create something using the information or materials provided. For example, you may have to build a bridge out of straws and Sellotape or create an app for the firm’s clients.

The group exercise is carried out in a room and there will be observers in the room (partners, trainees, recruitment team). They are assessing how well you work in a team and your contribution to the project. It is also timed and frequently followed by a presentation to the observers in the room.

Click on the button for the blog on how to ace group exercises!

2 – Interview

The interview may be carried out by anyone in the firm, though it tends to be partners and the graduate recruitment team. The interview may follow on the back of another exercise, such as the case study. You may be asked a range of competency-based questions and firm-based questions.

Click on the button for the most common questions so you can prepare in advance!

3 – Psychometric/aptitude testing

Some firms go straight from the online application stage to an assessment centre. If this is the case, the firm may ask you to sit their aptitude test in person at the assessment centre. Other firms may also ask you to sit the test again at the assessment centre and compare these to your score from the online test before. The test may be on computers/laptops or on paper.

Click on the buttons below to take you to my blogs on online tests (but the principles are still the same).

4 – Case study

A case study can come in various forms. The firm may present you with a pack of information and ask you to prepare a presentation, or ask you to comment on what you’ve been given.

For this task, you’ll need:

  • Knowledge of the firm’s sectors and areas of expertise
    • For example, they may ask you how the firm could solve the issue for the client
    • You’ll need to know which team could help the client
  • Commercial awareness
  • Presentation skills

Click on the buttons to have a look at some related content that is useful for case studies:

5 – Presentation

There are 2 main ways a presentation could pop up on your assessment centre day:

1 – Prepared presentation – The firm may assign you a research topic (usually 1 week before the assessment centre day) and have you present your findings to a partner/trainee etc.

2 – Case study presentation – You may be asked to present the findings of the case study.


You’ve made it to an assessment centre – the last stage of the recruitment process! This is your chance for the firm to really get to know you as a person rather than just an application number. The firm want you to succeed, they’re not there to trip you up on the day.

Good luck!

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