What is the assessment center? In simple words, this is a way of assessing competencies, during which candidates are observed by a team of trained and independent raters, also called assessors. In practice, this method allows recruiters to get to know the potential employees better, check how they are doing in the group, and assess whether it is really worth to employ them.
A little bit about the history
Researchers report that over one and a half thousand years ago in the Far East (more precisely in India) candidates for individual positions were subjected to various tests. The proper assessment center method, as we know it today, was used for the first time in the 1930s in the recruitment of officers to the German Air Force. Later, it was used in the British army and in the recruitment for American intelligence. The first non-governmental organization that introduced the AC was the American telecommunications company AT&T. In Poland, this way of competence assessment has become popular only after the political transformation.
What are the types of tasks in the assessment centers?
In the assessment center we can come across tests such as individual and group tasks, competence and psychological tests or competence interviews.
Among individual tasks there is, for example, “a basket of tasks”, which requires the candidate to analyze documents, make decisions based on them and develop a plan of action. Here, also “a case study”, a full analysis of a specific situation based on the materials provided, may take place. Another example of an individual task is a presentation, meaning a short public speech prepared for the topic provided by the employer or devised by the candidate.
- Group tasks include, for example, discussions with or without role playing, as well as conversations with a leader. The goal is to check whether candidates are able to give reasonable arguments and how they deal with expressing their own opinions and emotions.
- Competency tests allow you to assess the skills of potential employees who are given sheets with a description of several possible situations and have to indicate how they would behave in such situations.
- Psychological tests are divided into ability and personality tests. The first type checks the intelligence, the ability to think creatively and specific skills. The latter type examines the character of the candidate.
- Competency interview (also called behavioral one) involves finding out how the candidate achieved the effects and goals presented to the employer.
So how to use the AC method?
The assessment center method is especially useful when the company carries out recruitment for managerial positions where you cannot afford to make mistakes in assessing not only the candidate’s professional competencies, but also accountability and the ability to cope with stress or to lead the group.
Assessment center can also be used to evaluate the productivity and performance of employees and to determine their career paths, which is essential to gather knowledge fundamental for the proper selection of further trainings.
What, above all, is the most important to remember about the assessment centers? They allow you to get to know a potential employee better than a simple CV or a job interview. Thus, they eliminate many errors.