GUEST BLOG: Attending an assessment centre with a disability

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by Helen Cooke, Director and Founder, Great with Disability

If you have received an invitation to attend an assessment centre you have already impressed the recruiter with your application. Nevertheless, attending an assessment centre is a daunting prospect for any ambitious applicant. As an applicant who has a disability or long-term health condition this apprehension is often heightened by concerns about how to manage your disability during this stage of the recruitment process.

Assessment centres can vary greatly between organisations; from a series of interviews with various people in the organisation to role-plays, group activities, case studies, presentations and group discussions. Due to your disability or health condition you may require some adjustments to be made to these activities in order to ensure that you are on a level playing field with other candidates and able to demonstrate your full potential.

When you reach the assessment centre stage you may or may not have already informed the employer about your disability. If you have not already done so, and you need support or adjustments to be made, you will need to inform them in order for these to be implemented. For information about the types of adjustments and support available from organisations, have a look at the employer profiles on such as Barclays who talks about increased preparation time or Teach First who talks about provision of a laptop to complete written exercises.

Depending on your disability and how it manifests itself, you may also have to consider how to manage it with the other candidates. If you think it would be beneficial for the other candidates to know, you need to think how you will inform them – whether you inform them yourself or ask the recruiter to do this on your behalf. The more open and honest you have been with the recruiter earlier in the process, the easier you will find it to have these conversations at this stage.

Here are some top tips for attending an assessment centre: 

  1. Find out the structure of the assessment centre and what is required of you. 

Without this information you can’t identify any support and adjustments you may require.

  1. Give the organisation plenty of notice if you require an adjustment to be made. 

Organisations require time to implement adjustments, therefore the sooner you inform them of your requirements the better. Remember you are the expert in your condition and will need to engage in an open dialogue with the organisation about what your needs are.

  1. Concentrate on your own performance, not how you compare to others. 

It is important to remember that you are being measured against certain criteria, not against the other candidates.

  1. Be yourself; they want to recruit the real you, not someone you are pretending to be.

Employers are impressed by candidates who have the confidence to be themselves and will recognise if you are being genuine.

  1. Use the experience to find out about the company and whether you wish to work there.

An interview is a two way process – you should you use the opportunity to find out if this organisation is the right fit for you. Think of some questions you wish to ask during the interview.

  1. Take on board any feedback for future assessment centres.

Whatever the outcome of assessment centre, you will gain valuable feedback which you can act upon to help you get the job you want.

Don’t miss your chance to meet employers and try out some assessment centre exercises at our Assessment Centre Activity Day on 27 January, 1.30pm – 4.30pm. See Careers Gateway for full details.