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October 19, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

My Assessment Centre Experience

By Caitlin Aykroyd, Financial Mathematics graduate

Have you been invited to an assessment centre? Congratulations! You have made it to the business end of the recruitment process, where many employers make their final selection decisions. Assessment centres are usually made-up of activities designed to assess your suitability for the role.

Read on to hear insights from Caitlin’s assessment centre experience:

I applied for an actuarial consulting graduate role at Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY) and my assessment centre experience consisted of an individual written test, numerical test and a group exercise. A year prior to this, I had reached the assessment centre for a summer internship role with EY, but unfortunately didn’t get past this stage. I reflected on this experience to identify areas I could improve upon.

My preparation

To prepare for the assessment centre, I researched the company to find what their key values are and what strengths they look for in candidates. The EY key values include people who demonstrate respect, teaming, enthusiasm and the courage to lead. I was very mindful of these during my assessment centre and made sure to demonstrate these values wherever possible.

EY have a corporate responsibility in driving sustainable and inclusive growth, I researched upon this and other company visions which proved to be useful for the theme of the assessment centre. Furthermore, this knowledge of the company helped with final interview discussions.

How I demonstrated key values and strengths

Team player

A great opportunity to show that you’re a team player and have the courage to lead is during the group exercise. Since we had 30 minutes to complete our team exercise, I decided that I was going to keep track of the time, and as a group we decided how the time was going to be divided for the different tasks. I gave frequent reminders of how long we had left which ensured that we stayed on track. It’s important to make sure everyone in the team is contributing and is being heard.

Natural leader

A nice way to show you are being a good leader is checking that the team agree with decisions that are being made, and if someone disagrees, ask them to explain their point of view, or make their argument, really listen to them and try to adapt your idea or opinion to incorporate theirs.


To show respect, ensure you aren’t speaking over anyone. If you are struggling to be heard, make a request that you be the next person to share your thoughts. If this is denied, this will not look bad on you. Similarly, make sure everyone else is being heard. You aren’t trying to be the loudest in the room, being respectful and listening to others is just as important as sharing your own thoughts. Try to be as enthusiastic about the exercise as possible, and don’t forget to smile!

Advice from me

Keep track of time

In both assessment centres with EY, I found the individual numerical questions to be the best parts, this is perhaps no surprise as a maths student. However, one important thing to note is the time pressure. I was under the impression that I only had one numerical question remaining, but when I got to it, there were several parts, and it took me longer to complete than expected. Thankfully, I had some spare time to do this, but I know many others ran out of time. It is important to be mindful of how much time you have got to complete a task.

Highlight company values

When answering the written questions, remind yourself of the company values and the key strengths they’re looking for and try to highlight these within your answer. However, it is important to be yourself, so make sure that your strengths and values align with the company’s so you can be sure that you’ll be a great fit!

Seek support

The Careers team at UoN helped during one-to-one meetings with me. I found all the meetings extremely useful, especially in building my confidence and motivation. We ran through the various exercises that could come up and how to tackle them, such as group exercises or one-to-one interviews. The Careers team helped me to believe in myself when it really mattered. Furthermore, it was simply nice to chat with someone and release some of my nervous energy before the important day!

Find out more about assessment centres and how to research companies. Check out our events programme for workshops on assessment centres, interviews and other aspects of the recruitment and selection process used by employers.

Posted in Applying For JobsInterviews