Assessment centres generally last one or two days and consist of a range of assessment exercises, such as group interviews, psychometric tests, role-plays and panel interviews. These exercises are designed to test you, to see how you perform in certain tasks, and whether you have the skills required to do the job. The tests are usually held on employers' premises or in a conference centre and are considered by many employers to be the fairest method of selecting staff. This is because a number of different selectors get to see you over a longer period of time and have the chance to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do, in a variety of situations.
Assessment centres can vary greatly in design, but often consist of some of the following elements:
As well as the tests themselves, the assessment centre will also usually include:
Think about the skills asked for in the 'person specification' for the job - or discussed in the initial interview, if you have already had one. Every test, exercise and interview will be matching you against those criteria, and will be designed to measure whether you have the required skills and behaviours to do the job. Dress as you would for an interview and arrive in plenty of time.
"Before going to an NHS assessment centre, my advice would be to try and get some understanding of the scope of the work and the issues affecting the NHS at the current time. This will help you to prepare by giving you an insight into the culture and an appreciation of the pressures and decisions affecting the service."
Alan Simmons, NHS Careers Consultant
An assessment centre is really a chance for the employer to find out more about you and what you can do. It is also a chance for you to find out more about the NHS and whether you are suited to the job. So relax, do your best, enjoy it and learn from the experience.