How international students can succeed at assessment centres to get a graduate job


Assessment centres are a popular recruitment tool for graduate vacancies, particularly with larger employers. The idea of being assessed for a whole day might seem like a lot of pressure, but if you follow a few of our tips you can arrive feeling prepared for whatever the day might throw at you. Employers invest money in assessment centre as they believe them to be a successful way to recruit the top talent, so, bring your ‘A’ game and do your best to show the company what you have to offer. 

What are they?

So, what is an assessment centre day? They're typically the last stage in the recruitment process for a role. If you’ve reached this stage, you should be proud of how well you’ve done as it means the employer sees potential in you. They can take place over half a day and up to 2 days in some cases with an overnight stay. They might take place in the company office if they have the facilities or a specialised centre. These centres are a way for an employer to find out how suited you are to the role with a series of tests and exercises. 

What could you expect?  

Depending on the role and company you are applying for, the assessment centre may ask you to participate in some exercises such as; 

  • Role play or simulation exercises 
  • Group discussions 
  • In-tray exercises 
  • Social events 
  • Presentations 
  • Psychometric tests 

Within these scenarios, the company is trying to find out if you are the best fit for the company, team and role. Some of the aspects they will be looking for are; 

  • Negotiation skills 
  • Adaptability 
  • Leadership skills 
  • Communication 
  • Teamwork 
  • Planning 
  • Problem solving 
  • Time management 


How to prepare 

Start out by checking out all the information that’s been sent you, this is one of the best indicators you’ll have for what to expect on the day but there are some other things you can do. 

  •  Try to practice some scenarios with a friend or family member. This could be practice interview questions or how you might react in some possible role-play scenarios. 
  • Read through your cv and application form. Look at the role to determine what skills they are likely to be looking for, then think about how your skill set matches these and think of examples to show your talent. 
  • Research is vital! Read the company website, job description, social media platforms and any key strategy documents you can find. These insights into the inner workings of the company will show that you’ve put in the leg work and are keen to understand as much as possible. Researching the wider company culture should also help you understand what the company are looking for in a candidate.
  • If you have questions, call the organisation to speak to a member of staff so that you understand what is required of you. 
  • Check in with your institution's careers team, they will have services to support you through this process and can help you prepare and coach you along the way. 


How to use your international status

As an international student or graduate, you have a unique skill set that other students may not have, when you are being interviewed or assessed, try to use these to your advantage and show employers how these could help you in the role. These include; 

  • Language skills. Being bi-lingual or multi-lingual can be a huge asset that many others don’t possess, use this to demonstrate your communication skills showing how you can bridge language barriers with global partners the company may work with.
  • Cultural awareness. Living in other countries has given you experience of other cultures, being able to understand how others live and work together in different countries. 
  • A global resume. You may have work experience from your home country which demonstrates your adaptability to different working environments. 
  • Flexibility.  Moving to another country makes you more adaptable to new situations which is useful when starting a new job where you’ll be met by new experiences regularly. 
  • Determination, resilience and motivation. You’ve had to work very hard to get where you are, this translates into being a hard worker for a company. You may have had setbacks in the past but by reaching this point you’re also showing that you strive for the best. 

Try to get an early night before your assessment day and prepare what you will wear on the day. Try to remain positive throughout the day and if you make any mistakes don’t dwell on them, just put your efforts into doing your best in the next exercise. Good luck to those of you preparing for an assessment centre appointment, and if you’re looking for tailored careers advice for international students and graduates register for GradLink today! You’ll find free advice, the latest news for international students and a global jobs board.

By Jen Garmston Published: Jun 03,2019