What is an Assessment Centre?
When I heard the term assessment centre for the first time I thought that it is a physical place and its purpose is performance assessment of employees of various organizations that visit assessment centres with such a need. In fact, assessment centre is a method, not a place or organization. It is a personnel selection method. Normally, assessment centre consists of a series of testing exercises. These exercises might be written, oral or job-situation simulations. Exercises are, observed graded and evaluated by a group of assessors. The assessment centre approach is utilized in a variety of settings including industry, business, government, armed forces, educational institutions, and safety forces to select individuals for supervisory, technical, sales, or management positions. These assessment centres vary in length, time, and selection of exercises. Assessment centres are operated either by organization itself or by another organization specialized in this field.
Types of exercises
Each assessment centre is an assortment of various exercises so that candidates are allowed to show their abilities and skills in different areas. Both candidate and organization benefit from such a variety: Organization can filter the candidates more precisely and if a candidate performs rather poorly in one section he might excel in the other field and defeat others. Assessment techniques are e.g. interviews, psychological tests, ability tests, job simulations, group exercises and in-basket methods.
The In-basket method.
In this exercise you applicants are asked to handle letters, reports, memoranda and messages that are typical for manager’s job. Everyone works alone on the issues and problems presented, and are asked to explain in writing the reasons for your strategies, plans, actions and decisions. This method is objective and very practical, since it does not take as much time to both assessors and assessees as for instance interviews and every assessee have same conditions.
In this practice candidates are members of a workgroup established to work on problems that the organization is facing. They are expected to organize your time and resources, to discuss your ideas with others and to work toward a consensus on a plan of action. This exercise more realistically simulates a job task but takes a lot of time and is not as objective since the groups might be very different.
What is assessed?
The candidates are assessed on several competencies related to the job they are applying. Managers are usually assessed on competencies such as communication, cognitive capacity, interpersonal relations, strategic thinking, behavior in different situations, organizational skills, leadership skills, teamwork, etc. These competences vary in relation to the management level to which candidates are applying. Here is a closer description of the competencies how they are assessed by The Assessment Centre for the Middle Management Development Program in Canada.
Candidates are observed how they collaborate with colleagues to seek solution that prospective to a group, if everyone has opportunity to present his or her view and assessors distinguish among group.
Applicants are supposed to coordinate data from a variety of sources, identify define, and analyse operational puzzles and situations, predict potential obstacles and seek solutions.
Assessors observe how clearly and persuasively aspirants present their information and how interactive is their presentation. Big emphasis also on secondary communication channel e.g. gestures, eye contact, voice.
Applicant’s behaviour and decision making is observed in sometimes-ambiguous situation with different people and problems. Applicant is supposed to adapt to unexpected changes, various...
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