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With references to your experiences in the module but more importantly, the literature, critically evaluate the key issues in designing and running an assessment centre.

There are two different purposes of assessment centres. They are mostly commonly known for the purpose of selecting and choosing suitable individuals for jobs. The literature supports the validity of this form of selection and recruiting, most notably a study undertaken by (Gaugler, Rosenthal, Thornton, and Bentson, 1987.) The second purpose for assessment centres is for developing managerial talent. This is where internal participants are developed through the use of assessment centres. Using assessment centres for this purpose was recently studied and supported by (Arthur, Day, McNelly, and Edens, 2003).(Hermelin et al, 2007). Therefore, when starting to design an assessment centre it is important to decide what its purpose is firstly. Throughout this discussion I will talk of assessment centres in general mostly, but at times will also define them individually based on the aim and purpose of the AC.

The first thing required to design and construct a competency based assessment centre is to decide upon the competencies to be observed. (Shippmann et al, 2000) refers to these competencies as the dimensions for assessment and these are usually identified through job analysis. (Thornton, 1992) states that the purpose of assessment centres is to assess performance or behaviour based competencies through the use of simulations and exercises. The job analysis identifies the competencies of the job which allows the designer to shape the exercises to the context of the job. (Kudisch et al. 1999). (Spychalski, 1997) found that 93% of assessment centres undertaken job analysis before the design of the exercises and centre itself. (Kudisch et al. 1999). Found that the more commonly used exercises can be leaderless group discussions, oral presentations to a group of people, fact finding games, roleplaying, business games, case studies and in basket. These results are supported by a study undertaken by (Thornton and Rupp, 2006) who noted that these situational exercises are the most commonly used exercises used in the design and operating of an assessment centre. Thus it is important that the exercises chosen are not generic in nature and instead are specific to the job candidates are being assessed for. If they are not relevant and realistic to the job then it is difficult to assess candidates against the competencies that are desired, meaning while a candidate may appear to be strong during the assessment if the exercises are not in the context with the job then the purpose of the assessment, namely to identify strong candidates for a specific job, cannot been achieved. This can cost the employer a lot of money in the long run if from the failure of the assessment centre a poor candidate has been given a job. From my experience of assessment centres I have noted the success of leaderless group discussions being suitable for competencies such as leadership, interpersonal communication and influencing.

It is important to not only identify the competencies, but also to decide on the number of competencies to assess. It is important to not overload the competency model with competencies. (Chan, 1996) suggests that the higher the number of competencies to be assessed increases the risk of those competencies becoming indistinguishable making the task of differentiating behaviours much more difficult for the assessor. Each assessor only has the capacity to process a certain amount of information, which is why it is important to limit the number of competencies to be assessed. (Chan, 1996). Too many competencies can result in what academics refer to as the “halo effect”, where assessors are unable to observe all of the behaviours in relation to the competencies and instead making blanket statements. This is why it is important that competency models are designed...
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