9 February 2022
What to Expect at an Apprenticeship Assessment Centre
If you’re applying for an apprenticeship or another school leaver scheme, it is highly likely that you’ll be invited to an assessment centre.
Assessment centres are a marvellous opportunity for you to meet your potential employer and demonstrate to them all of the skills and competencies you have described in your CV.
Taking a quick break from Mario Kart? Jump ahead to…
What is an assessment centre?
Assessment centres are normally the final stage in the apprenticeship application journey.
Up to this point, the employer has only seen what you can do on paper. They run assessment centres to test candidates’ suitability for the role through a series of tasks and activities.
Just like family quizzes, gigs and Bumble dates, most assessment centres went virtual during the pandemic. And most companies are choosing to keep them that way.
Virtual assessment centres are very similar, but the whole process is online. So you’ll meet the other candidates and the employer via video rather than in-person.
Read on for advice to help you come top of the class at your apprenticeship assessment centre…
How to prepare for an assessment centre
BEFORE THE DAY
The more prepared you are for your assessment centre, the more confident you’ll feel. So do your research and make sure you know what skills the employer will be looking for on the day.
If your assessment centre is online, the employer will likely send you an email explaining the process, with instructions on how to join the virtual platform. Go through all of the instructions and any supporting material with a fine-tooth comb.
You might also have to complete some admin beforehand, such as…
- Emailing a passport photo (or other ID) to the employer. This is just to confirm your right to work
- Sharing a contact number with the employer in case of any connectivity issues or mishaps on the day
- Downloading the platform the virtual assessment centre is hosted on and creating an account. (Most employers use Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams).
ON THE DAY
Here’s a short checklist of things to do before your virtual assessment centre begins:
- Set up in a distraction-free space with a strong wifi connection
- Run a quick test to check your microphone and webcam are working
- Plug your device into a charging socket so that you don’t run out of battery
- Join via the invitation link 15 minutes early. So if you have any issues, you can resolve them.
Nervous? Remind yourself that you wouldn’t have made it this far if the employer hadn’t seen potential in you.
You’ve got as good a chance at success as any other candidate there. So take a deep breath, get stuck in with the tasks and try to enjoy yourself.
What to expect on the day
This is an example of what you might encounter on the day…
09:00 WELCOME + INTRODUCTIONS
The assessment centre will begin with a welcome from the employer. They will give you an agenda for the day and deliver a short presentation about the company.
09:15 ICE-BREAKER EXERCISES
Short games that are designed to lighten the mood and put all candidates at ease.
TOP TIP: The ice-breaker is nothing to worry about. Employers do not decide who to hire from this exercise. Typical ice-breaker exercises involve questions like, ‘If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be and why?’
09:30 GROUP EXERCISE
58% of employers include some form of group role play. You’ll be assessed on your behaviour within a team and your contribution to solving a work-based problem.
TOP TIP: The trick here is to be confident when sharing your ideas, without dominating the group. If there is someone that appears shy, ask them a question and invite them to contribute. Helping your peers will show your leadership and collaboration skills.
Run to the toilet, or take a moment to refocus and collect your thoughts. Have a sip of water, or something more exotic, like Orangina.
10:40 PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS
Some assessment centres include psychometric tests to analyse your analytical skills and personality characteristics.
TOP TIP: The more you practice, the more you’ll develop your technique and grow your confidence. Check out our Guide to Psychometric Testing to find out more.
If the assessment centre is an all-day affair, you’ll be given a lunch break. Shorter ones will include mini-breaks for going to the toilet and drinking Orangina.
Prior to arrival, you may have been asked to prepare a short presentation to be presented in front of interviewers and fellow candidates. And you’re going to smash it.
TOP TIP: The best preparation is to practice, practice and then practice again. You do not need to know your presentation by heart. Copy a few key trends, stats and facts onto a cue card so that you have something to refer to.
12:30 INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW
The interviews take place nearer the end of an assessment centre. This is your chance to explain why you want the apprenticeship, and why you are perfect for the role.
TOP TIP: The employer is likely to question your CV, so make sure you know it back to front. Our blog The Most Common Apprenticeship Interview Questions, is great preparation for this part of the assessment centre.
Before you go, you might have to fill out a feedback form. Say your goodbyes, thank the employer for the experience then run to the biscuit cupboard.
The best advice we can leave you with is to BE YOURSELF. That way, you can make sure you land an apprenticeship with a company that’s right for you.
If you are unsuccessful in an assessment centre, always make sure to ask for feedback so that you can improve next time round.
Good luck! We’ll cross our fingers for you.