Graduate Assessment Centre


Security Service MI5

The Challenge

To ensure that the Security Service selects the best graduates to enable the organisation to fulfil its mission.

The Solution:

To make the right choices, the Security Service decided to use a graduate assessment centre. A working party from the Service met with consultants from Human Assets, to address key issues, thus ensuring their centre delivered an effective outcome. The centre draws on key aspects of the graduate’s work. Tailor-made exercises mean selection is clearly based on simulations of the actual work candidates would be doing if they joined. Furthermore it was felt that applicants would be more attracted to the Service once they had been through such a taster because the centre would convey the interesting nature of the work. Assessor teams consist of two members of the Service together with an external psychologist.

Assessors underwent a three-day training course that has enabled them to rate candidates with a justified confidence. After training, the internal assessors are reliable, accurate and objective in their judgements. As members of the Service, their recruitment decisions are based upon an intimate knowledge of the work and the standards that are needed for success. Furthermore, the skills of assessing are useful for their day-to-day management roles and being an assessor is motivating for them as they contribute to a vital function for the organisation.


For the Security Service, making the right choices at recruitment and attracting the best people is something to be achieved at all costs, and the centre is seen as contributing uniquely to these imperatives. While being careful to obtain value for money, the Service is prepared to give its assessment centres the required resources (e.g. refresher training for assessors and regular updating of exercises).

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