Preparing for interviews, online tests and assessment centres

Although some employers may still select candidates on the basis of a single face-to-face interview many will use a selection process consisting of multiple stages and a variety of activities. Some for example use online testing in the initial stages, and early interviews are often conducted by video link or telephone. The final stages can involve an assessment centre: typically a day including a combination of written tests, interviews, and group activities or presentations. For all of these, thorough preparation is critical to success – use the information below and the resources suggested to develop your skills and extend your knowledge.

Your Careers Portal contains a 'preparing for interview' learning pathway. There are video resources giving an employer perspective, advice on preparation and typical questions as well as guidance on how to respond to challenging questions. There is also an interview simulator that allows you to record your responses to computer-generated questions, giving you an insight into how you might come across. There are specific materials to help you prepare for an interview by telephone or video.

Come along to one of the regular interview skills workshops offered by the Careers and Employability team– see the mycareer events page for details

Book a mock interview with a careers consultant.

Download the Interview Skills Information Sheet

Visit the Prospects website which provides comprehensive information on all aspects of preparation including anticipating possible questions.

The Target Jobs site has a focus on how to handle challenging questions guidance as well as tips on what to expect during interviews across a range of sectors.  

The STAR structure is commonly suggested as useful when responding to competency based intervew questions:

Situation (a brief outline of the circumstance)
Task (what was your goal)
Action (what you actually did)
Result (what was the outcome)

Tips on how to use this approach can be found on the Novoresume career blog as well as on the Prospects website.  

Online tests are used by employers at various points during the selection process. Some will use them at an early stage to select candidates for interview, others will test later as part of an assessment centre activity, in which case test results will be viewed alongside other information gathered. In the main, these tests are designed to assess an individual's aptitude/ability, or their personality traits. The employer using such tests will have conducted research to establish a clear link between their desired test profile and success in the job role being offered.

Testing Resources

Download the information sheet on How to prepare for psychometric tests  for information on the types of tests typically used and preparation tips.  

You can also access practice aptitude tests on the Careers Portal.

Below are a number of additional websites which offer information on testing and provide a selection of free sample questions for you to practice.

Target Jobs
Assessment Day
Institute of Psychometric Coaching
Psychometric Success provides examples as well as an in-depth guide on why tests are used, what to expect and how to prepare.
Graduates First
WikiJob provides an introduction to psychometric testing as well as some practice materials
Practice Aptitude Tests (by test type)
Practice Aptitude tests (by employer)
Situational Judgement Tests
Psychometric Tests
Test Partnership Although the presentation of this site is orientated to an employer who may wish to purchase the tests there are some sample questions to try including some "gamified" practice opportunities.
Practice Reasoning guide
Practice Reasoning tests
Saville Assessment
Fintest provides a free Jung personality type test

Norton Assessment is in the process of developing new psychometric testing materials and is inviting undergraduates to trial these online. All participant data is anonymous, and if you would like to take part in these trials use the links below:

Numerical Reasoning practice test
Verbal Reasoning practice test
Inductive Reasoning practice test

Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres are a common feature of the graduate selection process, particularly amongst larger employers. Usually, it is the final element of the process and is likely to be an all-day activity, sometimes held on the employer’s premises, sometimes a hotel or conference centre. You will normally be given an outline of what is involved in advance but activities are likely to include some of the following:

An interview
Ability tests or personality questionnaires
Team exercises
E-tray or in-tray exercises
A presentation
Social events
A site tour


Your Careers Portal offers an assessment centre tool featuring information on the assessment centres of a number of major graduate employers. This gives you an insight into what is involved along with tips from the employers on how to succeed.

Target Jobs includes a section on assessment centre advice which provides an overview of typical activities as well as tips on what employers are looking for in candidates.

Similarly, Prospects outlines what to expect and tips on how to prepare. 

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