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What To Expect From A Graduate Recruitment Day

23/10/2019 By Lily Senior

Many large organisations use a graduate recruitment day or assessment centre to full the places on their training schemes for the coming year. These events generally last one day, or perhaps two. An assessment event is your chance to shine and show why you should be employed, but what exactly should you expect?

You’re on Duty 24/7

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there is never a time you’re off duty. All that small talk with other candidates or a meal and drinks with the previous year’s graduate intake is a chance to assess. Be yourself and don’t feel you have to talk shop all the time. But on the other hand, don’t get roaring drunk, tell inappropriate stories or make negative comments about other candidates or the company. An evening reception does provide the opportunity to chat to staff though and get a lot more information about what the company does and what type of people it employs.

Range of Activities

Most graduate assessment centres will combine several different elements and you will be told the structure of the event when you arrive. Usually, the event will include one or more traditional face to face interviews, some sort of group exercise or discussion, and psychometric, numeracy or literacy tests. At each stage your performance will be noted, and after the event the recruiters will get together, compare notes and scores then decide who gets the job offers.

In-Box Exercise

One of the newer types of exercises which employers are using is the in-tray exercise. This is either done with physical pieces of paper, or electronically. Candidates are usually given a range of information to work with, such as answer phone messages, emails, letters or queries from customers. Their job is to prioritise which jobs to do first, and work through the in-tray as they would in a real life situation. If you’ve never done this sort of job before, there are simulator exercises online which can help you prepare.


Depending on the company, graduates might be asked to put together a short presentation on a topic given to them in advance. Prepare carefully for your presentation and stick rigidly to the brief. Practise in advance and time yourself to make sure you can get all of your points across in the time given. If you are presenting as a group after an exercise, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to get involved in the preparation and delivery of the presentation.

Be Aware of the “Cut”

One particularly ruthless technique used by many companies is to send some of the weaker candidates home at lunch, or after the first day. This might sound brutal and it is, but recruiters will take care to do it discreetly. If you have been unsuccessful, ask for constructive feedback which might help you work on improving things for next time. If you make it through to the end of the process, decisions are generally made fairly rapidly.

Tagged In: Graduates
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