4 Ideas for Assessment Centre Exercises

4 Ideas for Assessment Centre Exercises to help you hire the right people into your business.

Business Meeting

You’re looking to hire and you need someone quickly otherwise it will impact your business. Most businesses have been in this situation but the reality is, by the time you’ve looked through CV’s and found the time to interview your shortlisted candidates, a month has passed.

Assessment centres are a great way to save you time and resources. They don’t work for every type of job but for most junior to mid-level roles, they really enhance the selection process. Unlike the traditional interview method, assessment centres allow you to see how candidates interact with each other and helps you decide who are leaders and followers. It can also support you to shortlist the candidates you want to invite back for a second interview or see the potential in someone for a future position.

At ASC we have experience of running assessment centres for our clients, here are 4 ideas for assessment centre exercises.

Top tips to plan your day

  • Put aside one day to run your assessment centre
  • Recommended time to allocate 10am-3pm
  • 10 people is a good number but no less than 6 or no more than 15
  • Allow time to welcome people to the day, talk through the agenda and a little about your company
  • Aim for 3-4 exercises throughout the day
  • Include lunch as it will enable you to see who networks with you and is interested to know more about you and the company
  • Try to make the day as relaxing as possible so you can gain insight into the real candidate

Exercise 1 – The Ice Breaker

You can put these exercises in any order but the ice breaker is good to help everyone relax at the start of the day.

What does it assess: Listening and confidence when communicating with others.

The Exercise:

Put everyone into pairs (or if an odd number, one or more three’s).

Each person has 2 minutes to find out as much as they can about the other person.

You will time the 2 minutes and ask each pair to swap over once the 2 minutes has ended.

At the end of the task, ask each person to stand up and summarise what they have learnt about the person they were paired with.

You don’t have to use this icebreaker exercise but any type of exercise that allows your candidates to get to know one another and relax is the key. It helps set them up for the day.

Exercise 2 The Written Test

Pen on a writing pad

The written test enables you to assess qualities needed specifically for that role. This means, the test can be tailored to the role in question. For example if you were recruiting developers, your questions would be different to those who might be attending for a sales role.

Aim to have 3-4 questions on the paper so you can test their understanding of different elements of the role. Ensure you put the top score for each question. This can be worked out by deciding on the pointers for each question, i.e. if there were 8 points needed to answer correctly then the score would be 8. The length of time to answer the set of question is up-to you.

We would suggest you provide pens and spare paper for candidates if they need it. We would also suggest having spare copies of the written test printed off.

Example Questions

Job Role: PA

Please proof read the following paragraph, advise if there are any errors and how you would correct them?

Job Role: Developer

Show how you would go about estimating the number of fast food restaurants in the UK without doing any research?

 Job Role: Customer Service Advisor

You have just received the following email from a long serving customer who is unhappy with the service they received on Wednesday. At the same time, you receive a phone call from a new customer whose order has gone wrong. Which do you deal with first and why?

Job Role: Sales

Your customer is asking to have a £5000 reduction in price of the latest product available. You know to make a profit, you can only go to £2500 off the original price, how do you negotiate?

Exercise 3 – Teamwork and Communication

There are a number of assessment centre exercises you can organise to assess teamwork and communication but also include other skills that may be required for the role. Such as the ability to challenge and persuade others, problem solve or thinking outside the box.

The following exercise example assesses teamwork, communication and creative thinking.

Exercise Example – Paper Towers

For this exercise, split your candidates into groups of about 5-6 people. Then give them 50 sheets of A4 paper.

Each group is tasked with building the tallest paper tower using the 50 sheets of paper within a set time frame. We recommend 10 minutes.

The group with the tallest tower isn’t necessarily the best candidates. If one person in a group did it all by themselves, this is not teamwork.


  • How have they worked together as a team?
  • How did they communicate with one another?
  • Was there a clear leader and how did that person lead the group?
  • Was everyone involved in the exercise?
  • Were quieter members of the group encouraged to voice their opinion?
  • How did they deal with differences of opinion?
  • Did any individual or the group think creatively about how they could build the tower?

Remember there are various teamwork exercises you can do to assess this skill but the important part is that it requires everyone to get involved.

Exercise 4 – Quick Thinking

 thinking bubble with lightbulb

This exercise is great for sales roles where you’re more likely to be under pressure to think on the spot. However, it’s also good for customer service positions or where an employee needs to think quickly to solve problems.

The Exercise – Random Words

Have a selection of random words in a bowl like radio, pen or screwdriver for example. Ask each candidate to pick a word at random out of the bowl.

They then have 2 minutes to talk about the word, what it is, how it works or what problems it solves for example. You’re assessing if they can think quickly under pressure. Look for how they talk about the word, do they stumble or are they confident. Do they make up facts or stick to what they know.

What next?

We hope that this has helped you to think about the types of assessment centre exercises you can organise. If you’re thinking about running an assessment centre but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us.

You can also visit our meet the team page to contact the consultant who specialises in your industry. Or simply register your role with us and we’ll get in touch with you.

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