What is an Assessment Centre, and why should we care?


by Julie Collins & Josie Truscott

Undergraduate students in the School of Natural and Social Sciences were offered a unique opportunity to experience an authentic developmental assessment centre as part of the Ambitions Conference to support their career aspirations.

Almost all graduates will – at some point in their career – need to take part in an assessment centre. Usually this will be part of a recruitment process but may link to career progression and development within the organisation that employs them.

So what is an assessment centre?

It’s a battery of tasks specifically designed to identify the skills, abilities and traits required to be successful in roles (in order to employ the best person for the job), or to identify the skills abilities and traits that an individual has, in order to support their training and development and provide sound careers advice. Organisation can also use ACs as a way of identifying and developing their high potentials and talent pools.

Our undergraduate students were offered typical graduate AC exercises including psychometric measures (paper and online), an interview and presentation. It has been designed by Josie Truscott, a lecturer on the BPS accredited MSc in Psychology, and a Senior Consultant Occupational Psychologist for an internationally renowned Business Consultancy firm, and was delivered by our postgraduate ‘occupational psychologists in training’ undertaking the BPS accredited MSC Occupational Psychology degree. Participants spent approximately 3 hours taking part in the assessment centre and will each receive an hour long personal developmental debrief delivered by the trainee occupational psychologists, which they will be able to use to develop career plans and development strategies and increase their employability.

Both groups of students said they found the experience ‘eye opening’ and very useful. They enjoyed the process and feel better prepared for job interviews they are likely to face. By the end of their feedback sessions they will have a better understanding of their strengths and areas to develop.

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