What is an Assessment Centre?
An intervention where a series of job-related exercises are performed by candidates under observation, so that competencies can be assessed. Specially trained assessors evaluate each participant against predetermined criteria. Various methods of assessment may be used, including interviews, psychometric tests, group discussions, group problem solving exercises, job-related simulations, and role-plays. Assessment centers are used in selection for recruitment and promotion and in training and development, and aim to provide an organization with an assessment process that is consistent and free of bias. In order for the process to be considered an Assessment Center, it must meet certain standards adopted by the International Congress on the Assessment Center Method in The Guidelines and Ethical Considerations for Assessment Center Operations (1989). Those standards include:
- A job analysis of relevant behaviors must be conducted to determine the competencies, dimensions, attributes, characteristics, qualities, skills, abilities, motivation, knowledge) or tasks that are necessary for effective job performance and to identify what should be evaluated by the Assessment Center.
- Behavioral observations by assessors must be classified into meaningful and relevant “competencies”, such as characteristics, aptitude, qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge, or tasks.
- The instruments used in the Assessment Center must be designed to provide information for evaluating the competencies.
- Multiple assessment instruments must be used. These can include tests, interviews, questionnaires, and simulations.
- The assessment instruments must include sufficient job-related simulations to allow multiple opportunities to observe the candidate’s behavior related to each competency being assessed.
- Multiple assessors must be used for each assessee. Consideration should be given to the demographics of the assessment panel (diversity of ethnicity, age, gender, and functional work area). A participant’s supervisor should not assess his/her employee in an Assessment Center.
- Assessors must receive thorough training and demonstrate an understanding of the performance competencies. For the initial training of assessors who have no experience in an Assessment Center, it is desirable to have at least sixteen (16) hours of assessor training for each day of the administration of Assessment Center exercises.
- Some systematic procedures must be used by the assessors to record accurately specific behavioral observations at the time of their occurrence. This might involve handwritten notes, behavioral observation scales, behavior checklist, etc.
- Assessors must prepare a report of the observations made in each exercise in preparation for the integration session.
- The integration of behavior must be based on pooling of information from assessors at a meeting among the assessors. During the integration discussion, assessors should report information from the assessment instrument, but not information irrelevant to the purpose of the assessment process. The integration should be achieved through consensus or some other method of arriving at a joint decision.
What are the advantages of an Assessment Center?
- The organisation is forced to develop a pre-defined and articulated set of measurable criteria that is related to job performance.
- They are measurably cost-effective in the long run.
- Because they involve a number of students, it is possible to examine candidates’ interpersonal skills in simulated work situations. For example, the ability of the candidates to work in teams can be measured – this is often the main focus of a recruitment effort.
- Candidates are assessed by a group of trained assessors and against job-related criteria.
- Individual biases should not be a factor and decisions on candidates are made entirely on the grounds of how well they will perform at the job for which they are being recruited, as reflected in the criteria.
- They are perceived to be fair by candidates.
- Candidates often enjoy themselves.
- They show (because of the expense involved) the commitment of the organisation to graduate recruitment.
What gets assessed and how?
Seven People Systems uses a series of customised tools that can be used during assessment centres. These tools are typically used with multiple qualified assessors to assess various competencies in a given scenario.
- Case Study : Requires candidates to read a large set of information and then answer questions relating to the subject matter.
- Fact-finding Exercise : Includes research and retrieval of interaction with the interviewer to obtain further information from them.
- Group Exercises/Simulations : Includes problem solving within a committee or team.
- In-basket Exercise : Includes prioritizing documents, drafting replies to letters, and delegating important tasks.
- Presentation : Involves a 10 to 15 minute presentation on a pre-determined topic.
- Project Work : Involves working on provide facts and creating project plans either individually or in groups.
- Psychometric Tests : Includes tests to detail the candidate’s behaviours, values, job attributes or competencies in general.
- Role-play Exercise : Involves acting-out a business-related situation or a job-related behavioural trait.
- Written Exercise : Involves producing a concise written summary from a collection of documents.
- Interviews: Includes personal history questions and problem-solving tasks and scenarios usually through a Behavioural Event Interview format.