An assessment centre consists of one or more activities to enable the selection panel to decide who best meets the requirements of the job. These centres look for:
Communication - Able to demonstrate knowledge clearly and concisely, does not interrupt others, listens attentively, demonstrates positive body language and good eye contact, contributes ideas, facilitates the contribution of others.
Adaptability - Demonstrates leadership potential, enthusiasm and determination along with the ability to deal with new situations and resolve problems with confidence.
Clinical understanding - Able to prioritise and identify appropriate clinical actions and demonstrate knowledge of theory, able to be factually accurate.
An assessment centre can last for up to four hours, with breaks between activities. You may meet the other candidates and undertake joint activities with them, although some centres will focus more on individual exercises. An assessment centre may be used as an initial screening exercise, prior to progression to interview. Or you may need to pass a certain element, such as a numeracy test, before you can progress further.
Numeracy tests often include drug calculations. Literacy tests may include a written comprehension of a text, where candidates are tested on their ability to understand and summarise information and write clearly. For more information on numeracy skills, see here.
These often test clinical competences and nursing knowledge. For example, you may be given a clinical scenario and a series of questions to answer, or a care planning exercise.
This is an assessment of clinical competence, where components of the competence are tested individually. Often simulation techniques are used with mannequins. For example, you may be asked to demonstrate how you would safely assess and manage a patient presenting with a specific problem. For more information on OSCEs, see here.
You may be asked to present on a topic, either sent in advance of the assessment date or given on the day, with time allowed to prepare the presentation beforehand. (If you need advice about presentations, see our page on presentation skills.)
You may be given a topic to discuss, or a problem to solve. Often employers are testing communication skills, checking that you interact well with others, listen to them and contribute, to the task.
Success depends on contributing enough, without dominating and interrupting the discussion.
It is helpful to stay positive throughout and to reflect on what has been discussed periodically.
Consider your body language and both verbal and non verbal cues (e.g. nodding, smiling) as you interact with other group members.
You may be asked to work with other candidates to show how you would respond to a professional scenario. Sometimes actors or one of the assessors will play the role of a patient or client.
You will usually be provided with briefing information and preparation time and you should behave as you normally would in your nursing role.
Psychometric tests are structured assessment methods. They may include aptitude or ability tests, personality questionnaires, or a combination of both.
Employers may be keen to look for certain values or attitudes which are necessary for providing compassionate, dignified care.
You will usually be rated on your performance in each of the component sections of the assessment.
Employers will select the candidate(s) with the two highest overall score(s). Some tests may have a right or wrong answer.
In other tests, employers will mark against a scale according to specific criteria.