For most roles you apply for, the application process will be fairly standard, but in certain circumstances, you may be asked to attend an assessment centre session. This is usually the preferred option when there are numerous similar roles being recruited for or a company is recruiting for an internship or graduate programme. The session can be for a half, full day or longer, depending on the role.
So what are some of the things you may be required to do? You should receive details of the structure/format from the company, but if you haven't received anything, make sure you email or phone them to request that information. Here are just a few examples of what you may encounter, with some tips on how to best perform.
This is where you may be split into small groups of 3 or 4 and given a topic to discuss or a scenario to work on. Depending on what you're asked to do, they'll be looking at how you relate to the other members of your team so for example, if the role you're applying for is heavily team focussed and you each get given an exercise to complete which you finish first, make sure you ask the other people whether you can help. If you're asked to discuss a particular topic, try and engage with the others and contribute to the conversation as best you can.
Tests and Exercises
These are likely to happen when they want to test your specific skills for the role or to assess your personality or ability to think and reason using psychometric and/or aptitude testing. If you know this is going to form part of the assessment day, have a look on-line for sites that provide examples and some practice questions.
Usually a face to face interview will be the last part of the session. This may involve one interviewer or a panel, depending on the role. You may also be asked to do two shorter interviews if the company wants more staff to be involved in the process. Preparation for this part of the session is crucial as the interview is likely to be made up of a mix of standard (what are your strengths?) and behavioural (tell us about time when you ....) questions so have a look here for how to prepare and here for some behavioural question examples.
Finally, as with any interview, it's all about preparation, so ensure you've read as much as possible about the company, know what skills/experience and person they're looking for from the position description and ensure that on the day you smile, are positive, confident and friendly. Even in situations where you think you aren't being observed, it's likely that someone will be watching, so treat the whole session as one long interview and best of luck!