Placement Interviews & Assessment Centres: Top Tips

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So if submitting your CV, completing an application and smashing a phone interview wasn’t enough - an assessment centre is another piece to your placement puzzle which unfortunately you have to partake in!

Assessment centres and interviews are a chance for employers to get to know you further, discover more about your experience and see how you perform in different ‘work orientated’ situations.

We’ve created a guide to help you prepare for the process and try and keep the nerves to a minimum.

What should I expect?

You can expect icebreakers, team tasks, presentations and interviews. These activities are designed to test your skill set, to , get to know you better and see how you tackle different projects.

Our top tips:

  • In team based tasks, remember to be a team player. Don’t speak over anyone, be mindful of the brief, remember your timings and speak up! They want to know you can handle yourself in a group situation.
  • Nerves are a good thing - but don’t let them psych you out! You have been chosen to attend the interview for a reason! You are more than capable so take a deep breath and take your time.
  • If you don’t understand the question in an interview, don’t panic. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question so it gives you time to think or ask if you can come back to it later.
  • It’s easy to get tired and exhausted at an assessment day. There’s a lot of information to take in and a long time to stay engaged; even if you are feeling tired – remember to stay enthusiastic and be positive.

The main purpose of an interview is:

  • To get to know more about you
  • Assess if you will be fit for the role and the company
  • Understand your previous experience

So, what are they likely to ask?

  • About the company - they want to know you’ve done your research. This means you need to scratch up on your knowledge of the company, products, stakeholders involved and their successes. Check the news, blogs, social media and RateMyPlacement reviews to find information that may not be on their website but will definitely impress them.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? They want to know what you’re good at. They want to know how you overcome your weaknesses. These are questions you can prep for. Make a list of your strengths, your key skills and back them up with examples. It will keep you apart from the competition.
  • Situational questions - these questions are the perfect opportunity to show off your skillset. The questions are designed to test your initiative, adaptability in different scenarios and environments and to see how you have overcome any setbacks. The key here is to use the STAR technique (situation, task, activity and result).

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. Making sure you have answers and ideas prepped for your interview is a good way to avoid any awkward silences. Check out some more tip top interview advice here.

Should I ask questions at the end?


It is crucial that you ask one or two questions at the end of the interview...

  • It will convey that you are seriously interested in the role you are applying for, and enthusiastic to find out more
  • You can ask specific questions relating to company culture, job responsibilities and perks to find out if the job/company is right for you.
  • It shows that you have prepared for the interview.

Your questions should be focused and open-ended. Do not ask your interviewer a question just for the sake of it, or to fill the awkward silence.

Below are some examples of questions you can ask at the end of your interview...

  • Where do you think this company is headed in the next 3-5 years?
  • What is the typical career path for a someone in this job?
  • What are the next steps in this interview process?
  • Are there opportunities for further training?
  • How will my work performance be measured and reviewed?

So, what should I wear?

If you’re uncertain on the dress code, always email in advance to ask so you don’t end up standing out for the wrong reasons.

Your best bet is to go smart. By doing so, you will look like you have made an extra effort to look professional and impress your potential future employer.

Just think: less university library attire and more fine dining with the Queen.

What’s going to make me stand out?

1. Being yourself! As cliche as it sounds, the employer really wants to get to know you. If you don’t get stuck in or are half hearted about the process it’s going to lose you points!

2. Do your research - illustrating that you know about the company, their mission and main objectives will score you extra brownie points. It shows how much you align yourself with the company values as well as showcase how much you want the job.​

3. Get involved; don’t be scared to chat to the employees and fellow students there on the day. Being inquisitive and showing your interest will leave a lasting impression amongst the team and hopefully keep you on the top of their hire list.​

Good luck - we have our fingers and toes crossed for you!