What is an Assessment Centre

  • An Assessment Centre is not a place. It is a method used by employers to select the best candidates for positions within the organisation. It provides a systematic and reliable approach, which is both legally defensible and valid.
  • Psychologists have consistently demonstrated that the best predictor of future behaviour is past and present behaviour – thus using a competency based assessment approach, organisations have more of an opportunity to search for evidence to support any competencies that are required for a particular role.
  • The best way to assess whether an individual is likely to perform well in a role is to put them in the job itself.
    • However, in reality this is not always feasible as the consequences of errors can be extremely high. Thus organisations develop assessment centres that use exercises which simulate the tasks required in the real job. These exercises require the use of the same competencies as would be required to do the actual job.
  • Several candidates are observed at each assessment centre. A number of Assessors observe candidates’ behaviour in various exercises and simulations.
  • Psychometric tests generally form part of an Assessment Centre. They are also often used at the first stage of the selection process, in order to screen candidates prior to attending the Centre.

Assessment Centre Practice and Preparation

  • Assessment Centres tend to take place towards the end of an assessment process and the decision to hire will be made at the end of the day. You can expect around 4-6 different assessment exercises that may involve PresentationsGroup DiscussionsInterviewsPsychometric Aptitude TestsIn-Tray exercises or Written Exercises
  • The Assessment Centre Exercises will assess competencies relevant to the job you are applying for. If you do not know the competencies that are likely to be assessed, you may wish to take our Question Identifier Tool (QIT) and Situational Judgement test (SJT). The QIT will highlight the competencies to be assessed, whilst the SJT will reflect how competent you are in these so that you may focus on the things that matter for the day.
  • If you don’t think you’ve done well in one exercise, do not worry as the same competencies are assessed repeatedly. Just focus on your next task and don’t give up.
  • Assessors will take notes on what they see and hear, but not on what they think. Thus judgement is excluded from the session.
  • In group discussions, be considerate and mindful of others. Include those who may be quiet and keep track of time.
  • All Assessment Centre exercises are timed. It is therefore advantageous to practise beforehand, as this reduces precious time taken for candidates to familiarise themselves with the task once at the Assessment Centre.

Typical Assessment Centre Exercises

  • Psychometric Tests – Ability Tests and Personality Questionnaires which are often also administered online prior to the centre.
  • Group Exercises – Each candidate in the group plays a designated role in a simulated work event, such as a meeting. The group is observed together by several assessors.
  • Presentation Exercises – Each candidate individually presents on a specified topic to an assessor.
  • In-Tray Exercises – A paper exercise in which candidates deal with items in an In-tray, which simulates the potential work environment of the position for which they are applying.
  • Interviews – Competency-based interviews designed to ask candidates probing questions about past experiences where they have demonstrated a number of specified competencies that relate to the current job.

Each of the above exercises is designed to measure candidates’ performance against specified criteria. These criteria, or competencies, are clearly defined by the Organisation prior to the Assessment Centre – they have often been shown to be predictive of high performance in the job (known as validity). They represent essential skill requirements of the particular position for which candidates are being selected.

Did you know our Assessment Exercises are written by ex-SHL consultants. Our Assessment Centre practice bundle includes Case Study, In-tray, Presentation and Group Discussion Exercises along with Marking Guides to tell you what Assessors will look at when rating you. Practise Assessment Centre Exercises prepared by experts.

Hungry for knowledge and tips to succeed? Learn more about E-tray Exercises, Presentation Exercises, Group Discussion Exercises, Role-play exercises, Written Exercises that are typically parts of the Assessment Centre in most recruitment processes.

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