ONS Assessment Centre for Social Research, Newport


Hi all,

I have an upcoming assessment day for a position as a social researcher at the ONS in Newport. I’m just wondering if anyone has been recently / knows what to expect, whether the test I take will be the same as taken for statisticians and economists / best advice for preparation, etc.

I really want to get this job for loads of reasons, but I am just graduating this summer so don’t have any hands on professional experience. I’m on for a first in my degree result so that should help, I’m thinking of taking a bound copy of my dissertation to the interview with me so I can demonstrate experience in dealing with large volumes of data and presenting the findings and methodology clearly. Is this recommended? Aside from doing a ton of background research on the ONS and it’s operations, is there any other advice on how I can best prepare?

I’m really grateful for any replies as I’m beginning to get pretty nervous about the whole thing, and if anyone has actually been to the assessment centre or works there and can offer any insight then that would be brilliant. There seem to be a few posts on here, but no one ever updates the post after the actual day!

Thanks in advance.


Have you had the assessment centre yet?


Hi mate,

No not yet, it’s next week. I’ve been sent an email containing what I need to know though… got a ton of work on for uni at the moment though so preparation for assessment is on hold! How bout you?


I’m at the same assessment day (3rd June), for Researcher/Statistician. It looks like a pretty nasty day - I’m particularly worried about the technical interview (don’t know if you have to do that as a non-Statistican). I guess it’s best just to remember that everyone will find it tough.

How are you getting there? I’m going to have to drive down on the day, which, given that it starts at 8:30 and we’re supposed to get there 15 mins early, is going to make for an obscenely early start.

Anyway, a friend of my supervisor works at the ONS and is going to email me advice about the assessment day - I’ll be sure to post anything useful on here.



Yeah, the tech interview and stats part of the written test are my main worries too… from what I can tell it should be okay as long as you;ve done some prep for stats and research methods. Are you going for grad level entry?

I’ve actually got family in newport so I’m going to come down a couple of days before so don’t have to worry about that part of it. Where are you travelling from? Will u be relocating if u get the job?

But yeah, if you could post that info on here or send it in a message then that would be a real help… Will probably see you next week then if it’s accurate about both groups coming together for the written test.

Good luck with the prep though, fingers crossed for us both! I’ll send u a message if i hear anything else too.


Yep, grad level entry. I’m actually based in Manchester, but I just booked myself into a hotel - one less thing to worry about on the day. I will relocate if I get the job - the commute from either Cardiff or Bristol looks easy enough - but I’m not really thinking about that yet!

Don’t know if wildman messaged you as well, but he advises making sure you know your research methods/statistics really well - so, yeah, looks like the technical interview and the stats test may be the challenging bit. Other people have told me that the advantages and disadvantages of different data collection techniques are particularly likely to come up. And I thought I was done with revision for the year…


How did it go?


Hey mate,

To be honest I don’t think I passed… 80% of it went really well, but the 20% that didn’t I think were the most important parts. I knew it fifteen minutes after ariving though and finishing the first part of that test! It might as well have been written in Greek to be honest!

It was my first AC though so a pretty useful experience, I’ve hopefully got another one coming up for the GSR soon which I am a little more well suited too. Had my last exam at uni on Friday and then went to the oasis gig in Manchester yesterday so it’s been pretty hectic and not really had a chance to think too much about it, but I’m not holding my breath! A bit gutted, but not too much.

How do you think you did? Have you heard back from them yet? You seemed to have nailed some of the trickier parts of it so fingers crossed for you. I’ll let you know when I find out - it should be in the next couple of days I think.


Technically, part of the test was written in Greek…!

Thing is though, as I said before, you don’t know what level of candidature they are after and you may have done well enough on the other exercises to display that you have sufficient competencies. That’s the thing with Assessment Centres.


Lol… a joke about maths - you’ll fit right in!

Well, just had an e-mail saying that I have passed the AC and am being offered a job too! Can’t believe it to be honest, am over the moon!

I definitely owe you one, and thanks to everyone else for posting advice on here. I won’t be startin til August or Sept as I need to obtain my degree certificate first, but I’ll search you out closer to the time.



Hi guys, I have applied there also. I really hope I get it as well.

I understand if you don’t want to say everything that went on there, but can I please ask two questions.

One - were there many people there?

Two - what did the written test consist of?

Many thanks if you could help me, as I really want to get accepted.


Paul Potter.


Congratulations mate. You’ve done well getting a good job straight after finishing your course. It took me years and a Masters degree.

Just got my start date for next month so I’ll no doubt be able to show you the ropes…


There were 7 of us at the assessment centre that I attended. We were split up for various tasks.

The written test consists mainly of stats, maths and research methods. I would say that the only thing for it is to really know you’re stats and research methods.


Just got an email offering me a job too! Pretty happy, although I’ll need more details about the job before I feel secure - make sure I haven’t been assigned to Titchfield, for example. Shouldn’t happen, as I specified Newport.

I like how the offer letter is called ‘warm letter.doc’. I cringed when I saw that, actually - I assumed it was going to be a gentle letdown.

Thems23 - I think you were at the same assessment centre as me - I was the curly-haired guy in the morning session.
Wildman - cheers for the advice, it was really helpful.
paulpotter - there were 7 people at our assessment day too, split between morning and afternoon. I can only really echo what wildman said about the tests - make sure you know your stats and social research methods, and don’t panic if you can’t answer everything they ask because everyone seems to have substantial difficulty with at least one part of the day.


Congratulation to you too mate.

I forgot to mention, I had a telephone conversation with one of the managers the other day and it sounded like they needed somebody to start fairly sharpish. They must have a lot of work on at the minute and with the big census coming up the year after next, it’s not really a surprise that they are recruiting fairly heavily.


any more news guys?


I’ll be sure not to mention any pets.

I’ve been allocated to Sample Design and Estimation for Social Surveys (within the Methodolgy Bureau) in Newport, starting early September. Quite looking forward to it, actually, but I’m not looking forward to finding somewhere to live.


What happened to fishboy? He seems to have been removed.

I was meant to be doing something similar to you, Gorrable, but I had a call from HR saying that I was being moved to ‘opinions’. Not sure what this means so I will have to wait and see.

Looking for somewhere to live is going to be a bit tricky because I’m not familiar with the area at all. What are your thoughts? Not sure whether I fancy commuting so I will probably end up living near Newport.


oh thats good. i just don’t like waiting around ages for people to call and then who don’t call you. but the ons sounds like its a very important job to be doing.