Categories: Selection Process

Assessment CentersAssessment Centers

The idea of assessment centers might hit you in a flash if you’re a fan of entertainment shows featuring judging panels. But it goes beyond that. Assessment centers are a perfect fit for screening groups of potentially ideal candidates at the same time.

In this day and age, where companies are seeking competent hands to fit different roles, would an assessment center arrangement cut it to guarantee the best result?

Now picture this scenario: Imagine applying for an IT position, and you’re subjected to real-life troubleshooting scenarios. Or you’re made to manage an unhappy customer over the phone as a test of your customer relationship skills. Now you get the idea?
If it were possible to employ candidates on a temporary basis to test their competencies, then companies would have little to worry about in regards to their recruiting needs. But that only happens in an ideal world situation. Even then, only a handful of candidates would be selected from a list of many.

Assessment centers cut across several spheres, giving companies an idea as to whether you’re fit for a role or not, and possibly identifying areas of training for long-term growth. These centers are not just looked after by company employees. Far from it. They are professionally handled by individuals specially trained to deliver value and who have a track record of success in recruitment in this case, professional recruiters or psychologists.

Assessment centers are known to mimic real situations while assessing a whole bunch of people at the same time. The idea originated in the recruitment of defense personnel who possess specific competencies, and because it allows mass assessment, it was appropriate for these positions.

It became a norm in the corporate world in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Though the methodology and process have evolved, some companies are adopting their use to objectively narrow down the list and get the right person for the job.

Assessment centers are not actual “centers” per se. Call them a series of activities to test different competency levels using a cross-reference system. The system entails different tests, simulation exercises, and the use of multiple assessors in the selection of the right candidate even the evaluation of multiple competencies in different exercises is not left out.

At this juncture, it’s essential that before the start of the assessment exercise, recruiters define the exact competence and behavior for any position. That way, the task will be much easier, and the exercise will help fish out the “right ones.” For blue-chip companies, it may be slightly easier to accomplish this feat, since they’re looking for a particular skillset (or a couple of skillsets), having benchmarked high-flying employees and used them as a standard for their search. However, start-ups may struggle, as centers require intensive planning and research to nail the right candidate.
Having a clear idea of what you’re looking for takes you a step closer to achieving your goal. The exercise can then be designed to suit your primary objective and identify the right candidate for the job using laid-down criteria. Typical qualities include, but are not limited to, customer focus, team player, communication, leadership skills, etc.

It is in the best interests of the recruiting firm to send out information to the candidates before the day of the test; this will help bring out their full potential and eliminate any unnecessary surprises. Whether competent or not, participants must be given an equal opportunity to show their skills. Most of the assessment centers usually last for a couple of hours although some of them could be a lot longer.

The different sessions that make up assessment centers are as group discussions, role-play, and structured interviews. With a group discussion, you can see the interactions between candidates and spot those with leadership tendencies. Role play has to do with team play activities which could be an ability or psyche test. The structured interview is where you’re subjected to different questions by a panel. Using a standard rating scale for each exercise, the team of assessors can reach a conclusion based on their findings for every candidate present.

Recruiters may also want to promote their company by using this medium. For example, a tour of the company’s premises or the use of an induction style video to familiarize candidates with the company and give them the idea that this is the place to work.

Why use an Assessment Centre Test?
  • Candidates are subjected to real-life work scenarios and can be used to objectively predict their performance on the job.
  • It gives candidates the opportunity to have a feel of their job roles.
  • Candidates are given an equal opportunity, and assessment is based on the same criteria.
  • It reduces costs as the process delivers the best fit for the job.
  • There is a high level of satisfaction among participants owing to the fair nature of the process.
  • It produces comprehensive feedback which is vital in designing training
The Drawbacks

Being at your best is critical here otherwise you may lose out. In some quarters, it may be considered unfair as you only have an hour-long interview. Again, candidates’ performance is severely impacted without thorough briefing on the task at hand.

With that being said, assessment centers have proven over time as the best method to recruit competent hands into an organization as opposed to the usual interview structure.

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