Assessment practice

In our opinion we prefer to offer free practice materials and practice tips are free. We hope you enjoy using them for your assessment centre practice.

Our Free Practice Assessment Centre Resources

These are divided by assessment centre exercise:

  • Assessment Centres
  • Competency-based Interviews and Interview Guide Design
  • Development CentresAssessment Centre Tips– Read the instructions to each exercise very carefully.
  • Always watch the time available for each exercise.
  • It’s vital to complete each task setIn-tray Exercise Tips /  Written Exercise Tips– In-trays are designed to assess your organisational and prioritisation skills.
  • So focus on how important each issue is to the organisation and which actions you should do first, last etc.
  • Another competency commonly assessed by in-trays is creative thinking. you therefore need to have a few innovative ideas. Even if you are not recommending pursuing these, put each creative idea down, then assess its pros and cons.
  • One of the trickier aspects of in-trays is that issues are referred to across multiple items. It helps to get to grips with the main issues if you skim read your in-tray brief initially. This will help you to remember how the main issues have been linked together in the different sections of your brief.Assessment Tips – Group Exercise
  • Always aim to put your views forward whilst being fair to your fellow candidates.
  • Proactively try to involve the rest of the group. ask for their individual comments if necessary.
  • It’s important to build support for your ideas. This requires you to generate some rapport with other individuals.
  • Seek to provide direction for the group’s efforts.
  • Remember that everyone will be feeling nervous.
  • Keep a steady pace and try not to let your nervousness show.
  • It’s important that you project your voice and speak calmly and confidently throughout.

Group exercise tips

We hope you enjoy our free group exercise tips. All of our assessment centre resources are offered free of charge.

Group exercise tips

  • Such group exercises are a common feature of graduate assessment centres and sometimes of managerial development centres.
  • Group exercises typically involve a group of four to six candidates given a group or individual exercise briefs.

Assessment Exercise Design

Group exercise preparation

A group exercise occurs whilst assessors located around the room note what individuals are saying and how they are reacting to the group dynamics. Specifically the assessors are considering how the individuals meet competency areas of behaviour.

When are group exercises used?

The most popular application is graduate Assessment Centres. Group exercises are inappropriate within day-to-day selection contexts. Since all candidates must be available at the same time, a group exercise does not fit within a normal interview schedule that’s set-up for staggered candidate arrivals.

Group exercise competencies

The observable competencies can vary quite considerably, including:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Managing Others
  • Team working
  • Planning and Organising
  • Verbal Communication
  • Influencing skills
  • Social Confidence
  • Adaptability, Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Creative / innovative thinking
  • Leadership
  • Motivating Others
  • Project management

Defamiliarization assessment centres

In our opinion, these use defamiliarisation exercises to take candidates out of their comfort zones to really test their abilities. The only true way to assess someone’s natural capabilities is to take them out of their comfort zone . These cannot be prepared for since there is no obvious right or wrong approach. Candidates must rely on their natural strengths and innate abilities.

Virtual assessment centres

It’s important for graduate applicants to demonstrate they can collaborate across country borders. Online, “virtual” assessment centres provide a realistic job preview of team working in a digital age. Efficient virtual assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular.

Flash Mob assessment centres

In our opinion, most University campuses have careers fairs in which graduate employers can attract final year students. The term “flash mob” is applied to assessment events run at such specific locations.

Your Assessment Centre Day

Assessment Centre Tips

Our advice is to follow these assessment centre tips:

  • Firstly, ask yourself as you read the instructions:
    1.  What are the key things I am being asked to do here?
    2. How can I demonstrate that I have the right skillset?
    3. What should I avoid doing?
  • Also, don’t ask for any hints or assessment centre tips of that nature.
  • Thirdly, don’t skim read any of the Instructions.
  • Plus, work calmly and steadily through each exercise.
  • Also, do not spend too long on a single part of each exercise.
  • Finally, keep a positive attitude..

Assessment Centre Feedback

Receiving assessment centre feedback is a key learning opportunity for you. Firstly, you should always accept this gratefully. Secondly, stay engaged in the process.

Finally do not do any of these: criticise any exercise; compare your performance with the other candidates; or assume that the feedback is your opportunity to improve the overcome.

Psychometric Profile Interpretation

Remember, the following points about your personality profile:

  • First, there is limited time in your feedback interview so an overview is always given.
  • Second, a personality test measures your behavioural preferences. How you typically behave.
  • Finally, may think of instances when you behaved differently to a particular personality trait. That’s fine. It’s how you typicallybehaviour that the personality test profile relates to.

Development centres

Development centres use the full range of assessment exercises (role plays, in-trays, written exercises, psychometric tests etc) to highlight managers’ development areas, or to select internal candidates for specialised training. As with an assessment centre exercise matrix, there are multiple assessment techniques used in a development centre.

Unlike in an assessment centre, the developmental exercises in the development centre matrix are integrated to maximise learning opportunities.

Best practice in development centre design and application

  • As with the best practice for an assessment centre, there is a need for objectivity, reliability, validity and fairness. However the ethos is different, with effective feedback underpinning the key priority of exploring each participant’s areas of personal development.
  • – A personality questionnaire is typically completed prior to the development centre and the results fedback on the development day, or as part of a subsequent day’s coaching session.
  • – Feedback is a key part of any development centre.
  • Other forms of feedback, such as 360-degree feedback, are easily incorporated into the development centre process.
  • – Developmental exercises are tailored.

Assessment exercise validity

Rob Williams Assessment has extensive experience in this field, having reviewed and evaluated individual exercises – as well as overall assessment centre designs – in order to suggest improvements to clients and to promote best practice.

  • The sort of questions that can be asked as part of an assessment centre evaluation are:
  • How much of the rating scale is each assessor using?
  • How independently are assessors rating each exercise, and each competency?
  • Which exercise contributes the most to the overall competency ratings?

Situational Strengths Test

A specialised form of situational judgement test called the Situational Strengths Test.SJTs have these advantages (in any context):

  • –Easy to administer to large audience
  • –Relatively strong validity
  • –Can assess sample of the relevant KSA’s
  • –Refreshed items possible
  • –More difficult to fake responses

Bespoke VBR Example

  • 3-4 scenarios will assess each value, giving approx. 15-16 questions.
  • Provides accurate and meaningful feedback to each respondent.
  • This practical job preview has the advantage of using the same SJT format.

Values-Based Interview(s)

Structured interview(s) comprising:

  • Values.
  • Competency.
  • Technical questions.

Simulation Exercises

  • Scenarios from job analysis used to design simulation exercises.
  • Parallel version developed to maximise exercise integrity and minimise risk of applicants sharing details of tools and compromising the validity of the assessment process.

Values-Based Interview

  • We propose a structured interview comprising values, competency and technical pharmacy questions.
  • Collaborate with job incumbents to design technical questions / scoring guide.

Assessment Centre Research

In their purest form assessment centres involve the use of behavioural exercises such as in-tray, group discussions, oral presentation, etc. However, in many cases they combine a number of different methods.

Generally, a small group of candidates (6 to 12) participate in assessment centres for a duration ranging from one to five days. Published reports of assessment centres reveal a typical design pattern: Job analysis; Identification of dimensions; Design of selection exercises.

Assessment Centre Research

The common practice is for assessors to focus their attention on the dimensions, and use the exercises to provide a basis for assessing candidates on a full range of dimensions, rather than scores on individual exercises. Thus, the dimensions have a central role in the whole process, whereas the exercises represent only means to an end.

Further assessment centre research questioned the cognitive process involved in providing assessment rating.

There are two sets of possible explanations to the predictive validity of assessment centres. The first set suggests that the dimensional rating used in assessment centres capture individual differences in candidates personal characteristics, skills, and abilities. This set of explanations is termed the “trait approach”.

Development centre design

  • Firstly, everyone completes a personality questionnaire.
  • Secondly, the results feedback on the development day, or as part of a subsequent day’s coaching session.
  • Feedback is a key part of any development centre.
  • After individual exercises.
  • Fed back in a one-on-one session held post-event.
  • Used to kick-start a coaching or individual development programme.

IBM Assessment centre Experience:

  • Lead Assessor or Assessor at over 50 assessment centres for a FTSE 100 High Street bank. Their 2001/2002 and 2000/2001 graduate recruitment campaigns.
    • Competency development.
    • Designed exercise framework.
    • Wrote an interview guide and a telephone interview script.
    • Trained business assessors.
    • Conducted candidate pass/fail feedback.
    • Led QA analysis of the in-tray exercise followed by my redesign of the structured rating form.
    • Validated the selection process. From online sift via telephone interview and assessment centre through to final acceptance.

IBM Assessment centre Experience:

  • Ran over 20 assessment centres for financial traders
  • This included initial job analysis and competency development.
  • Developed online competency-based sift tool ( used to select graduate applicants.
  • Created bespoke 360-feedback and designed personal development planner for recruitment agency.
  • Designed and participated in a wide range of assessment centres.
    • Role play used in the recruitment of branch managers of a FTSE 100 High Street bank.
    • Generic written analysis exercise design.
    • Participated in several assessor training videos.
    • Assessed at Academy Selection Days for leisure company.
  • Developed and ran several training courses and supporting exercises.
    • Project managed a 30K contract delivering two personality questionnaires
    • For a fashion retailer.
    • Based on reperatory grid, critical incidents and strategic interviewing analyses.

IBM Psychometric test design Experience:

  • Project managed the online delivery of four personality questionnaires and six ability tests (the system).
    • Set delivery dates and pricing; trained sales team.
    • Provided quality assurance to ensure scoring accuracy and a high report quality.
    • Managed online demos, made best practice recommendations, and trouble-shot.
    • Liaised regularly with directors on marketing recommendations and phasing of delivery dates.

IBM Assessment centre Experience:

  • Project managed the online trials of a 24-scale personality questionnaire
  • Validated Sales Questionnaire SPQ-Gold for PSL-Australia.
  • Developed senior managerial verbal/numerical reasoning tests and administrative tests.
  • Designing, item writing, management of the trialing process, data analysis and manual writing.
  • Wrote expert system reports for several personality questionnaires.

ASE Assessment experience                                                                                                   

  • Validated Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire and worked on a 360-degree feedback version.
  • Sole authorship of ‘Prepare for Tests at Interview’ book.
  • Supervising the designer, printer, external item writers and 16PF experts.
  • Wrote the ‘16PF5 Questionnaire Data Supplement 1999’.
  • Project managed the Career Influences Survey for Top Jobs on the Net.

Providing client liaison, data management (6000 subjects), analysis, report writing and presenting.

  • Job analysis at a call centre and hotel using repertory grid and critical incident techniques.
  • Conducted an innovative two-year Employment Service project. In partnership with the RNIB, HSBC and three other test publishers (using the Myers Briggs and the OPQ).
  • Acted as an internal consultant to MD for employee attitude and customer feedback survey.

Assessment Consultancy Experience

  • Oversaw the delivery of a bespoke psychometric test for the Guardian Media’s Website.  
  • Designed a bespoke sorting and numerical reasoning test for the Royal Mail.
  • Supervised the development of an online test of individual learning styles. Sold the concept to a FTSE 100 accountancy client.

Free Psychometric Test Practice

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