My story

Assessment centre interviews


If it doesn’t open then it’s not your door. This was something a friend said to me after an interview, when I didn’t get the job. Well I’ve since failed at another interview, so I guess that wasn’t my door either!

This time the interview was in two parts. It started with a three hour “assessment centre” type interview, the first time I’ve ever had one.

An assessment centre interview is a mixture of tasks and activities that test your suitability for the job. They are supposed to give you the chance to demonstrate a wider range of skills than you would have been able to during a traditional face to face interview.

At such an interview, employers don’t just assess you against job competencies, but they also aim to see if you would be a good fit. Key skills employers would be looking for would include communication, organisation, teamwork, planning, persuasion, creativity, analytical thinking, leadership and time management.

All four potential candidates, myself included, were put in the same room and were then set a number of tasks. The first one was pretty straightforward and just involved prioritising a list of urgent and non-urgent jobs.

Next I was paired up with the only male candidate and we were set a task to work on together. It involved devising and organising a staff health and wellbeing event, on a budget of £500. After that I was then paired up with another candidate and together we had to say how we would respond to criticism of the organisation on Twitter which then quite quickly turned into a media crisis.

Throughout the assessment we were watched and quizzed by a panel of three, thankfully with a break half way through for tea and biscuits 😊

It was an intense three hours and definitely the most rigorous interview I’ve ever had. It was also a little strange, meeting and eyeing up the competition, wanting to show that I could be a team player but at the same time needing to outshine the other candidates. I really wanted that job!

two front doors
Which door?

During the break I tried to figure out who might be the best fit for the organisation. I figured that one candidate would be a safe bet, another was very good but might be a risky choice and that another possibly found the assessment centre interview a bit of a trial and might have dropped out of the selection afterwards.

Despite it being my first experience of an assessment centre interview, it went very well. But it was on the second interview, a competency based interview, that I fluffed it slightly. I answered some questions very well – and I had a thorough knowledge of the organisation I had applied to – but with a couple of the questions I struggled to think of good examples when put on the spot. This is something I need to work on.

When the call came saying I hadn’t been successful I was disappointed, as I’d done a lot of preparation for the interview and felt that my skills, my experience and my background were a good match for the job. But as my friend said, I guess it wasn’t my door.

But I have another interview coming up, so maybe that door will open and perhaps it will also be third time lucky!

Meanwhile I’m continuing to drown my sorrows with friends and more tea and cake 🙂

tea and cake



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