IBM Assessment day for placement year


I’ve been invited to an assessment centre next week for a placement role with IBM, and I would just like to know if anyone has experienced this already, I’ve been told there’ll be some group exercises and an interview, I was wondering if anyone knows what kind of topics come up in the interview? is it competency based? or is focused a lot on IBM, such as there industry, services etc?
any help would be greatly appreciated…


Hi I’ll answer this for you tomorrow when I’m on my computer too hard to write an essay on my phone.


thank you, i would really like a few tips, i realise it will be about IBM in some form, but what im trying to determine is to what extent? i.e. do they expect you to know about every industry they’re active in as such


Hi, I went to a AC a few days ago, I went for an industrial placement AC but I think they are pretty similar regardless of what you applying for.
Interview is based on what they call foundation competencies, its on the website, look it up and have e.g.s ready. there is 2 interviews
Group exercises are simple and easy to succeed at just find a balance between not taking over and not saying anything.
the IPATO test was quite short but hard make sure you do some revision for this on all areas that came up in the 1st IPATO, its basically all the hard qs from the online one.
Thats all there is to the day, if yours is at 8am you’ll be out by 1. Its not that bad its relaxed and the interviwers are easy to get on with and the ppl. guding you through the process are current IP ppl,.
Remember that with IBM your not in direct competition with the ppl at the centre with you, if there are 11 there and they are all good all of you will get hired! After all it saves IBM money on running ACs.
I did mine think it went well but then so did everyone else there so really not sure should get result within the next week.
Good Luck



I wish you the best luck with it. I have received an email yesterday that says I have passed the IPATO and will be shortly invited to the 1st round.

What position did you apply for? and for when?

Did you have any one-to-one interviews at the 1st round at all? Technical and/or HR?

What were the group exercises? What are you supposed to do?

Considering I have applied for a position starting in June, and have received the email yesterday, when should I expect to have the 1st round?

BTW the link you have provided above is not working could you repost it or pm it to me please?

I know I am asking for too much but I will be glad if you share your experiences and give some tips.

Thank you!



the link isnt meant to be a link I’m not sure what it is doing. There are two one on one interviews, one with a hiring manager (HR etc) and one with a professional development manager, it is this one that is key to pass.

TBH the exercises were quite a long time ago, one group exercise was plan an event and was ridiculously simple, the other was about hiring one employee from a choice but its a lot harder than it sounds.

I applied for general business and tbh i think this is the best as it gives you the best chance of getting matched later on in the process.

I got through have had one interview for retail that I got rejected from but had another the other day in technical sales that went a lot better so hopefully …

Good Luck !


That’s an interesting thread, however very little details are being provided. I have decent understand of pretty much the events on the assessment day, however I do not understand how will the group case be solved. What is meant by a group presentation? and will each member be given the chance to present individually or is it just a discussion while the panel will be observing, please elaborate.

If anyone could provide some information about the objectives of the case study, how much time was given, and most importantly the nature of the case, is it generic case or a technical, how did you solve and how did you present it ?

Any other information about the different interviews would definitely be useful.



You don’t do any presentations or anything. The group exercise are to see how you behave in a group, can you follow what is going on and contribute, can you influence, lead etc.

in my case one exercise was event planning. what you have to do is satisfying your clients needs and in the mean time staying in the budget. you have to discuss with your team members what you can do and how to do it. you are given some information with regards to the venues, foods, drinks etc. and their prices you have to arrange them with regards to your client’s needs.

the other exercise was to select a manager as you employee. you have to analyze the information given which tells you the requirements and the qualifications you are looking for and choose one of the candidates. the candidate you choose is not important but the way you choose it, your logical reasoning.

keep in mind that your exercises might different but you can still expect something similar to these…

if you want to get through you have to contribute to the team success in terms of; reasoning, timing, problem solving etc. make sure you suggestions and ask other what they think, try to be a leader…

hope this helps there is another thread for ibm selection day I think it is called ibm first round or something like that you might want to have a look at that…



Dear denim, that was quite helpful, appreciated, I really hope you get the job. :))
How did it go ?


unfortunately not :frowning:

“you do not meet the requirements we look for”


Hi Frnds,
Is any attended the IBM assessment in recent days?
How will it be? what it is actually based on?
Yesterday I got mail from IBM saying that you are invited for IBM assessment.
I was applied for senior SAP CRM consultant.
Can any one help me?
what are the questions can I expect?

Thanks in advance


Hi guys,

I did IBM’s assessment day last Monday (15th Jan) for the Business Consulting grad scheme. I went through to the final round. (they’ve changed the application process this year and there is only 1 assessment day instead of 2. I think the morning corresponds to what the 1st assessment day used to be, and the afternoon what the second one was)

It was in Portsmouth North Harbour (IBM UK HQ), we were 36 candidates (mostly business consulting, a couple of tech consulting) split into 6 teams of 6. Here is how the day went:

  • Logic group exercise *
    30mins to solve a logic problem about a fictitious art gallery exhibition. Given information about the artists, how many paintings they each produced, the categories they could enter paintings in, and pieces of info about the placement of the paintings, we had to determine the placement of each painting.
    The 3 IBM assessers said nothing during the half-hour, they just listened and took notes (each keeping an eye on 2 candidates).
    TIPS: Engage others, keep track of time, stay calm & respectful, go through the project rigorously to make sure you do not omit anything

Case-type group exercise
Again 30mins. In the same group of 6, we had to come up with a plan for a corporate event that our fictitious client wanted to throw. Given client requirements (type of event, budget, etc.) and info about each venue we could host the part at (food & drink prices, size of room, amenities) we had to come up with a suggestion for where the event would be held and a schedule of the evening.
We had the opportunity to ask questions to the client during a 4 min period - use that time wisely. We asked: total invitations required (including spouses/partners)? Sit-down dinner or buffet? etc. At the end we had to present our plan to the fictitious client. It went pretty badly because we were debating which venue to choose so we didn’t have time to come up with a detailed budget and schedule.
TIPS: Set your group some deadlines. Work together, not against eachother.

Confirmatory IPAT test
22mins, same type of questions as online, except on paper (which means you spend as long as you want on each question)

— BREAK: 28 candidates out of 26 were sent home… —
The 8 remaining got a mediocre lunch.

Group case exercise in 2s
Our fictitious client was an ecommerce company looking to develop a mobile app. We were meant to represent a mobile app development company, and convince the client of the best plan for them. We were given lots of info about what the client needs, and what are the app solutions our company provided. We had 20mins to prepare and 5 (or 10, can’t remember) mins to pitch our solution to the client.
TIPS: make sure you have a recommendation ready by the end of the 20mins. Make sure you & your partner speak more or less the same amount of time. Put yourself in the shoes of the client (you can imagine what concerns they will have: price, app security, etc.).

Individual communications exercise
20mins. We had to write a follow-uo email to the CEO of the client firm, who had reservations about our solution (price & ROI of our solution). I’m a slow writer, I didn’t write much but I repeated the key points that we’d presented.
TIPS: Write professionally.

Individual interview
About 30mins.

  • You have moved around quite a lot (I’ve lived in a few countries) - what has been the most challenging aspect of that?
  • Tell me about your robotics project (I’m on a robotics team at uni)
  • Was your leadership position (in robotics team) self-appointed or a vote?
  • What do you know about IBM?
  • What has been most challenging as captain of your amateur football team?
  • (I said getting people to show up to training.) How do you do that?
  • Anything else you’d like us to know
    TIPS: Be confident, energetic, passionate.

I was told a week later that I was through to the final round.

Good luck guys.


Is the confirmatory IPAT test just number series, or the wordy logic puzzle questions, or both? 22 minutes isn’t a very long time!


Hi Everyone,

If you are reading this post: you are thinking about applying for an IBM placement year, you are somewhere in the recruitment process and not fully hired yet, you are in a season of waiting, or most likely, you have an IBM assessment centre coming up.

I am a student that has applied for and has been successfully hired for the 2014-2015 placement year at IBM UK. As I found this forum very helpful during my recruitment period, I would also like to add to the conversation with my personal experience.

The following is my personal outline and advice regarding the IBM UK recruitment process:

Brief Summary:

  1. Written application - doc.
    a. Seven 150 word questions
  2. IPAT online test (two)
    a. 1 numerical test
    b. 1 math word problem test
  3. Assessment Centre
    a. 2 Group Case Discussions
    b. 1 IPAT confirmation
    c. 1 one-on-one interview + informal Powerpoint presentation (with HR team)
    d. 1 one-on-one interview with a manager of your specific role (i.e. Business, IT, etc.)
  4. Matching Interview*
    a. 1 one-on-one interview with a manager of your specific job title

*Once you successfully complete your Assessment Centre, you will have ongoing Matching Interviews until one of the following occur: you are hired, all managers have completed their hiring, or for subjective reasons, managers simply do not choose to interview you. To my knowledge, everyone that passes the Assessment Centre receives at least one Matching Interview – some even have three.

Breakdown & Personal Tips:

My first piece of advice would be to take everything I say with a grain of salt – even though I have experienced all of this first-hand, remember this is only one person’s word.

  1. Written Application
    a. This is basically a run-down of your CV, your motivations and your skills
    b. I did not receive any feedback on this application, but I would reckon your should just stick to the fundamentals:
    i. Differentiate yourself – especially in the Skills and Achievements section
    ii. Be professional
    c. Hook and convince them that you are worth deeper investigation – you are worth the £150 travel costs that go towards your AC invitation

  2. IPAT online test
    a. Many forums say there will be three parts, but there are only two - 30 minutes each.
    b. Find and do as many free practice tests out there
    c. Unless you’re some kind of genius, it will be unexpectedly hard
    d. The funny thing is, everyone at my Assessment Centre (including myself) felt they had failed the IPAT - yet we all passed
    e. Have a paper, calculator and pen ready

  3. Assessment Centre
    a. Logistics
    i. You will first be brought to a “holding room” where you will sit when you are not doing an interview or group case
    ii. At each AC, there will be about 10 candidates, from no specific role
    iii. It starts with a short Powerpoint presentation about IBM and the placement year
    iv. There will be one or two current IBM interns in the holding room with you

  1. To some degree (great or miniscule), they are assessing you.
  2. Pick their brains, ask smart genuine questions, be friendly and network with them. Not in a cut-throat way, but just be smart about it alright.
    v. You will then be randomly called out of the room for your one-on-one interviews and group cases (groups are also random)

b. Group Cases (two)
i. In a random group of 5 candidates, you will solve a logic-based case while 3 IBM managers sit quietly and assess you

  1. Just so I don’t ruin the fun for you, I’ll withhold what the actual cases entail, but here’s some applicable advice anyway
    ii. Act the way you would if IBM actually hired the 5 of you. Focus on getting the job done in the best way you can
    iii. This means being efficient in communication, asking result-oriented questions, keeping track of time, using the whiteboard if you actually need it, and being genuinely friendly, respectful and even humorous!
    iv. Not to be harsh, but this does not mean sounding smart for the sake of sounding smart or sounding friendly for the sake of sounding friendly (you know what I mean).

c. IPAT Confirmation test (only numerical test)
i. If you passed the IPAT, this is a breeze – it felt much easier than the online test

d. One-on-One interview + Powerpoint presentation with an HR team member or manager
i. Very informal and easy going
ii. Give your presentation (it is not timed, but try to keep it under)
iii. Be prepared to answer any questions related to your CV or any aspects of your presentation

  1. Your motivations, what you learned, details of your experience
    iv. Create some small talk. This is your chance to ask all your burning questions.
    v. Show you have a keen interest in IBM and what they’re all about, but what they’ll mostly remember is how you made them feel
    e. One-on-One interview with Role Specific Manager
    i. Also very informal, but don’t take this as an invitation to be unprofessional
    ii. 3-5 behavioral questions based on your CV (i.e. So it looks like you worked at IKEA for a few months… can you tell me about a time you had a conflict with a customer?)
    iii. 3-5 IBM knowledge questions (i.e. Who are IBM’s competitors?)
    f. Overall, the Assessment Centre is about 4 hours long, but it flies by. Enjoy it and make some friends – who knows, you might be working with them one day
  1. Matching Interview
    a. Logistics
    i. After you successfully complete the Assessment Centre, you will receive an email that states that you are not guaranteed a position just quite yet. What this means is that you are now placed in a central database of qualified applicants, or in other words, a list of candidates that have passed the AC, just like you did. As you may expect, this list will be shorter earlier in the year (say around November). I’m not sure when AC’s end. However, you can also expect that more and more managers will be looking for interns later on in the year – so the increase of candidates and openings sort of balance out.
    ii. From this point on, managers from all across the UK will be able to interview you if they have an internship opening.
    iii. I do not know this as a fact, but I’m guessing beside your name should be your CV, your role and office location preferences, as well as a score you received at your AC. These are the factors that determine which and how many managers choose to interview you.
    iv. In other words, there is no way to determine three things: when you will be called up for a matching interview, how many matching interviews you will receive, and what specific job role your matching interview will even be for (you will have an idea, but you will probably not know exactly).
    v. Once you are called for an interview, you either pass or fail. If you pass, (and all your other administrative details are fine), you can be CERTAIN that you will be hired. Simply due to the volume of interns, it may take up to 1-2 months from the point you pass a Matching Interview to receiving your offer letter. Some managers tell you have passed right at the end of the matching interview. If you fail the interview, you are placed back on the shelf of qualified applicants and you must simply wait until another manager selects you for an interview.
    vi. All student placement roles fill up at around April or early May
    *5 months and few days = From the day I sent in my written application to the day I was officially hired (technically a few emails after receiving my offer letter).

Anyway, I hope you have found this a helpful and comforting read (I apologize for any typos or errors!). Send me any personal questions you may have, I will try my best to answer them. If you have observed that any of my information is inaccurate, please post a note! As someone that has gone through this arduous process, I only wish the best for every single one of you. Best.