Accountancy & Financial Management

Tackling Accounting Assessment Centres

Assessment centres are a popular way for accounting employers to select the best graduates.
Jevitha Muthusamy
Editorial Writer
Tackling Accounting Assessment Centres

Accountancy and professional services firms have long been known to use assessment centres as a way of selecting the most promising graduates. These centres are designed to put candidates through a series of exercises and assessments to test their personal and technical skills. 

The aim of assessment centres is to find the candidates who are the best fit for the job and the organisation. Therefore, it is essential that graduates are prepared for these assessments and know how to stand out from the crowd. 

If you have an upcoming assessment centre, here are some tips to help you impress accounting recruiters and land your dream job.

Know the Selection Criteria

One of the most important steps in tackling an accounting assessment centre is to familiarise yourself with the selection criteria set by the employer. You can find these from the job description, speaking to recruiters at events, asking questions during the first interview, or sometimes on the employer’s own website . By understanding the employer's expectations, you can tailor your approach to meet their requirements and stand out from other candidates.

Before attending the assessment centre, it's essential to review what you know about the employer’s selection criteria carefully. This will help you to understand what skills and qualities the employer values most, allowing you to prepare appropriately. 

Don’t forget to brush up on your accounting basics as well. Take the time to revise key accounting concepts and practices most relevant to the role you are applying for.

To get a better idea of what to expect during an assessment centre, you can visit your university careers services centre and ask if they conduct mock assessment centre workshops. Working through those and getting feedback on your performance from career counselors is a great way to practice for what’s to come.

Group Exercises 

Group exercises are a common feature of assessment centres for accountancy firms, given the team-based nature of many accounting roles. They include discussion groups, case studies, role-playing exercises, and job-related scenarios that test your ability to operate in the area you have applied for. 

Here are some tips to excel in group exercises:

  • Be assertive but collaborative: Confidence is key in group exercises. Speak your mind without being too dominant, and ensure that everyone gets their chance to speak. Add your own analysis of each idea and make sure you are positively contributing to the discussion.
  • Listen actively: Demonstrate that you are listening by building on others' ideas. You can say things like “So to clarify, what you meant was…” to show that you are paying attention and actively processing what others are saying.
  • Be positive and friendly: Show enthusiasm and support for others. Don't tear anyone down or get confrontational. Try to encourage others or lift the mood when you can. Remember that everyone else there is probably nervous too!
  • Take initiative: If no one is taking charge, do your best to lead the conversation and keep everyone on track. Make sure you keep an eye on the clock as well!

Case Studies

This is where you are given an exercise that simulates the sort of problems you must solve in the role you are applying for. Case studies can be done individually or in groups, depending on the employer. You may be given the brief beforehand so you can prepare, or asked to tackle it on the spot. 

Here are some tips to handle case studies:

  • There may be more than one possible answer: Case studies often have multiple possible solutions, so don’t fixate too much on finding the “right” answer. Work through the problem in the way that makes most logical sense to you.
  • Be ready to explain your process: You may be asked to explain to recruiters how you arrived at your conclusion. Be sure to keep track of your thought process and the steps you took.
  • Focus on the bigger picture: Your solution should ideally make commercial sense. Be prepared to justify how your proposed solution will ultimately benefit a company (e.g. higher earnings, reduced costs, more liquidity, tax savings, etc.)
  • Divide the workload: If you are working on a case study as a group, divide the workload according to your teammates’ strengths so you can all work through it as efficiently as possible. The same tips for group exercises apply – do your best to build off of each team member’s work, and incorporate their opinions where possible.     


Presentations are another common element of assessment centres. You may be asked to give a solo presentation to a mixed group of candidates and assessors, or be asked to present on a topic as a group.

Here are some tips for delivering a great presentation:

  • Use a structure: A structure is helpful to prevent your mind from going blank and to help the audience keep track. Use whatever form of brief notes you feel comfortable with, but never speak from a script.
  • Keep it simple: Don't attempt to fit too much information into your presentation, or your audience will switch off. Focus on presenting three to four big ideas or messages in five minutes.
  • Use body language: Your body language can make a huge difference to your presentation. Make eye contact, use gestures, and stand up straight to show confidence.
  • Use visual aids: If possible, use a flipchart or PowerPoint slides to support and back up your presentation.
  • Give everyone a chance to speak: If presenting as a group, make sure everyone has an opportunity to say their piece as well. Don’t be afraid to step in (politely) and cover for a group member too if they miss out on something during their speaking slot.