Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
Assessment Centres are fair, transparent and objective processes that enable organizations to tap potential strengths as well as skills gaps of current or future workforce. The assessment centre process is an ideal tool for the organization that is committed to developing its people and achieving its strategic business goals as well foster a more fulfilled and satisfied workforce.
Assessment Centre process phases
- Phase one consists of identifying skills or behaviours that need to be assessed according to the specific requirements of the role and the organization.
- Phase two consists of developing the necessary exercises to assess the skills in a group setting.
- Phase three consists of exercises where small groups of six to eight people work together under the observation and facilitation of at least two assessors.
- Phase four consists of the report which gathers the assessment scores of the well as draws recommendations for each person assessed. Feedback is then given to each person.
The following are essential design criteria proposed by the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD)
The essential design criteria should include:
- Duration of the centre
- Location (reality or ideal surroundings)
- Number of candidates brought together (five may be too few for comfort under observation and more than eight gives problems in sharing the assessed time)
- Candidate background and comparability of past experience.
- Number, mix, and experience of assessors.
The essential and desired skills or competencies should be matched to techniques and tasks which can test them. Depending on the nature of the job, the tasks might include individual or group work, written and/or oral input, written and/or oral output, in-tray, analytical work, individual problem solving, group discussions, group problem solving, tasks which match business activities, personal role-play and functional role-play.
Group exercises should be as real as possible, should set goals and have a limited time, should require candidates to share information and reach decisions and should require the candidates to read the brief very carefully. Assessors can assist in a role-play if they are trained to facilitate discussion and assist in group decision-making. Reasonable preparation times before exercises should be offered.
The tasks might need to encourage competitiveness or co-operation, to test for creativity or for building on the ideas of others in a productive manner. The opportunity to compete with others will assist some candidates to perform better. In organisations wishing to improve their diversity, elements of competition should be decreased in favour of increased opportunities to co-operate, as these skills are likely to encourage wider participation.
Presentation exercises can be valuable if the job might require this skill and there can be benefit in allowing considerable preparation time for the exercise. If individual work is part of the job, tests can be used. These ‘psychometrics’ are defined as all the methods which are used to test skills and abilities and thus attempt to predict performance through individual tests and exercises.
Observation and Assessment
There should be a number of observers to ensure greater objectivity through a range of views. Assessors must be trained to observe, record, classify and rate behaviour and seek evidence accurately and objectively against the job description and person specification. Selectors preferably should also have had some training on interviewing skills and in managing diversity, and have good listening skills. Assessors might also be used to observe and comment on behaviour although they do not necessarily take part in final decisions. Candidates may be trained to some extent so that they are starting from the same level of awareness about the process. Pre-screening may be useful to gauge whether candidates can cope with an assessment centre.
A feedback session with either a psychologist or someone trained to deliver professional feedback is of benefit to candidates and indicates the organisation takes selection seriously. The whole process should be perceived as fair by the candidates.
Assessment centres can improve the predictability of selection processes when well designed with a clear job description and person specification in mind. They are valuable when there are many good candidates and the consequence of inappropriate positioning and promoting is expensive or carries business risk.
PsyPotential offers highly professional assessment centres and guarantees qualified and experienced assessors as well as the CIPD recommended candidate/assessor ratio that ensures fair and thorough evaluation.