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The assessment center method has been used for many purposes in human resource management including selection, diagnosis, and development since its introduction over 50 years ago.

We can use AC:

  • external candidates into organizations,
  • internal candidates into supervisory and managerial ranks,
  • individuals into a pool of high potentials who will get special training,
  • exemplary staff members to receive certification of competence in job skills,
  • employees for retention when there is a reduction in force and reorganization.

In all of these applications, the overall assessment rating is used as a measure of competence to be successful in some new assignment.

An assessment center is a means of gathering relevant information, under standardized conditions, about an individual’s capabilities to perform a managerial position. In essence, an assessment center puts candidates through a series of group and individual exercises designed to simulate the conditions of a given job and determines if they have the skills and abilities necessary to perform that job.

It does this by bringing out the candidate’s behavior relevant to the job, while being observed by an assessor or a group of assessors. In addition, the assessors judging a candidate’s behavior see all individuals from a common frame of reference in the various assessment activities. These procedures help to insure that the judgments made are relatively free of the many forms of rater bias, are reliable, and can serve as the basis for meaningful predictions of a candidate’s potential.

Additional benefits of an assessment center include:

  • Assessment centers measure job-related behaviors rather than other characteristics that are not directly related to effective job performance.
  • Assessment centers measure a broader range of knowledge, skills, and abilities than more traditional methods, such as written tests or interviews.
  • Assessment centers are standardized because testing conditions are similar for all candidates. This standardization insures that no candidate receives better or worse treatment than another.
  • Assessment centers are fair regardless of age, gender or race. Unlike some testing programs, research has suggested that a candidate’s age, gender, or race has no influence on the assessment ratings received.
  • Candidates typically view assessment centers as a fair evaluation method.
  • Assessment centers serve as a learning experience for assessors as well as for candidates. Candidates benefit from the feedback they receive after going through the center. The assessment center identifies their strengths and areas in need of improvement.
  • Assessment center ratings tend to be much more accurate than conventional ratings because the assessment center provides an opportunity for direct observation of behavior in a controlled setting with trained raters.

Types of exercises:

In-Tray Exercises

The in-tray exercise forms the back-bone of any assessment center and this is because of the diversity of behaviors as well as, Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSA’s) that can be tested as part of this exercise.

 

Presentation Exercise

Giving a presentation offers you a much better platform than is normally available when simply answering an interviewer's questions. You also have far more control in this exercise than in any of the others.

 

Group Exercises

Group exercises are used to assess how you interact with others and to gauge your impact and influence when working in a team. Typically, you will be given a problem or scenario which requires a collective decision to be taken. This is usually presented in the form of a brief, which also includes a strict time limit when the result of the discussion will need to be conveyed to the assessors.

 

Role Play Exercises

This type of exercise also allows the assessors to actually test how you respond when put on the spot or dealing with conflict. The key purpose of the exercise is to again see what competencies you display and how your behavior matches those of the required role.

 

Competency Based Interviews

Some competencies cannot easily be demonstrated in exercises and the only opportunity to ‘demonstrate’ them will be with reference to your qualifications, employment history or personal achievements. The assessors are aware of this and almost all assessment centers retain some sort of interview component, usually a competency-based interview.