Assessment centres

Assessment centres are part of the selection process for some jobs - typically those where you might be managing a team or will have direct contact with patients.

If you’ve applied and then been shortlisted for a vacancy, check to see if you’ll need to attend an assessment centre as part of the process.

Door sign

No-one likes the idea of spending a whole day being assessed, but a selection [assessment] centre can be a more equitable process than an individual interview. You’ll be seen by a greater number of selectors and have a longer period of time to demonstrate you have the knowledge, skills and values they are looking for.

What can I expect at an assessment centre?

An assessment day can include any of the following:

Information sessions/informal events

This is a chance to meet other candidates and the selectors. It’s a good idea to prepare some questions in advance but don’t ask them if your questions have already been answered by an information session. Even if a session is informal, be aware that you are probably being assessed.

Practical tests

You may have to demonstrate your skills in a clinical simulation through a practical simulation in a clinical environment using a mannequin or verbal clinical simulation – a hypothetical scenario where you talk through the steps of a procedure.

Numeracy tests

A wide range of numeracy tests are used  including drug calculations which might be used in a hypothetical scenario. For example, you may be asked how many tablets you should give a particular patient, or how much of an IV drug.

The key to success is identifying what kind of calculation is being asked for:  addition, subtraction, division or multiplication. And it is worth practising these tests in advance as there is a higher failure rate for drug calculations than any other assessment centre test.

Literacy tests

You may be given a situation to write about, such as describing how you would dispense and administer a drug. It’s important to be legible and accurate and show clear logical steps. Grammar and spelling may also be assessed.

Group exercises

These can be:

Tips for doing well in group exercises

Multiple-mini interviews

These are generally used for recruitment to health courses rather than jobs, but some trusts are piloting their use for healthcare staff recruitment.

Multiple mini interviews involve candidates moving around a number of stations where they will spend a short amount of time in each. You can expect interview questions, drug calculations, scenarios or dilemmas, task-based activities or role-play interactions. Each station will measure one competency or aim to assess a personality trait or value.

Pre-assessment day tests

More and more NHS organisations are asking applicants to complete multiple choice tests on-line which you may need to pass to get to assessment centre stage.

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