An assessment centre can be called a series of relevant tasks and exercises that allow candidates to display their skills and talent by recreating or dealing with typical work situations. This may involve exercises that involve a mock meeting, presentation or report or role-playing situations.
Such an approach does not take longer than an interview, but gives more relevant information as assessors can observe the candidate “in action” rather than merely hear from them how good they are at their work. Before the recruitment begins the organization reviews the skills, knowledge, abilities and behaviour that are relevant to the role they are recruiting to fill.
From that point, they develop suitable tasks and exercises to reflect the areas they wish to test or assess. These assessment exercises usually have an element that will relate to the working environment so that assessors can see who has researched the organization and the market.
An assessment event can last from 1-5 days depending on the particular role. Most, however, last 1-2 days in duration. The candidates perform several tasks and may also have interviews as part of the assessment process and personality profiles and aptitude tests may also be employed.
By the end of the event, the observers from the company have a clear idea of the potential candidate and their skills, knowledge and behaviour they can contribute to the organization. This process is crucial to recruitment in any organization.
Thus, in this article we are going to discuss about the need of assessment centres.
The need of Assessment Centres
In the contemporary competitive working environment, it is important that organizations have only the best talent in place who not only have the necessary skills and abilities for current work situations, but who also can adapt and handle any future challenges they may face.
Many organizations now believe that the traditional interview method no longer has the desired reliability that is required in recruiting employees. Most companies agree that they have hired people that are either not capable or appropriate for the job or, in some cases are overqualified.
In both cases, the employee tends to leave the organization and the organization has to start the recruitment process again. This is very costly in both time and money. Getting recruitment correct helps ensure that the person who is recruited settles into the role quickly and stays in the job for a longer period. This is where an assessment centre comes into play.
The need of assessment centres is reflected in the following functions –
- Accuracy –
- An assessment centre offers the core benefit of accuracy, particularly when compared to the methods used in standard recruitment processes such as interviews. With a basic interview there is a great possibility of applying different measures to candidate assessment – interviewer bias, the ‘halo’ effect, the clone effect, and the differing subjective opinions and moods of different interviewers for different days and different candidates. However, an assessment centre allows a far greater degree of objectivity to be applied to the process, pertaining to a broad array of assessment opportunities, tasks and exercises.
- Allows observing performance in action –
- At an assessment centre recruiters can see how a job seeker performs in a real-life situation (such as a simulated business exercise reflecting the work environment), rather than simply relying on their own self-assessment during interview or what they have heard about a candidate. Assessment centres make it easier to assess and compare candidates who might seem to be of equal quality on paper, but perform very differently in a ‘real life’ situations.
- These centres also allow recruiters to simulate different scenarios typical to the role and see how the applicants perform. For instance, a group of candidates might be required to work together on a hypothetical business problem to see which roles they take within a team, how they interact, influence, communicate, negotiate, problem solve, work effectively with others and make good decisions. There are usually tests involved to assess numeracy, literacy as well as technical skills for a role. Assessment centres might also include creativity exercises to see how they make decisions and perform under pressure.
- Employer branding –
- Assessment centres also have the benefit of promoting the recruiter brand. Those candidates who turn up to an assessment centre and find that it truly reflects both the role/job and the organization are typically impressed by the hiring organization and maintain that positive overview, even if they aren’t successful in getting the job. This gives the employer a real opportunity to create or transfer the positive impression to all the other high quality candidates that attend the assessment day, and potentially build up an engaged group of possible future hires.
- Cost advantages –
- Despite the perceived higher cost of an assessment centre, such as accommodation hire, food, equipment and staff assessor time all of which go on for days, this method is often considered more cost effective when compared to a disparate and drawn out recruitment process, and also more importantly, the high business costs of poor recruitment decisions and errors.
- Fairness –
- An assessment centre is important because it is fair and unbiased. It complements the recruiter’s equality and diversity agenda and helps to ensure that the right candidate – or candidates – are hired on the grounds of only true merit. With an assessment centre, measurement evidence and evaluation are thorough, assessed against normalized against a broad curve of candidates and recorded.
- This is more robust than with a single interview, where notes or evaluations may be more subjective and biased. This strengthens the position and reputation of the employer company, particularly if they have delivered the assessment centre with the help of a specialist recruitment agency.
- Reciprocal experience –
- The assessment centre experience is thorough, transparent and it also gives the candidates a true insight into the values and culture of the employer organization. This is vital, as it is often difficult to give an overview of the brand in an interview alone.
- During the more extended process of the assessment center, candidates can meet key players and managers, and other staff members from the company and have a chance to talk to them informally and get a sense of what it is really like to work for the employer and adapt to the working environment. This helps to improves disintegration within the company.
- Diverse suitability –
- Assessment centres are very diverse in application and important for different situations and different purposes, from senior executive recruitment to specialist and technical staff hire for a large new project or other situations where bulk, seasonal or contract requirements require a sudden demand of highly talented staff. Every assessment centre can be altered to suit the role in question and the group of candidates present.
Given the need of assessment centres, it is essential to run them well and without any mistakes. Common pitfalls in assessment centres include a failure to define objectives and goals, key competencies and measurable skills beforehand, and agree a measurement process.
Without this, the assessment center becomes as subjective and unreliable as the traditional interview process. This can be avoided with the support of a specialist recruitment agency with experience in the process and design of an assessment centre. These agencies can advise with the exercises, format agenda and evaluation of the assessment day/days and ensure that it runs to quality, cost and outcome objectives -with the right candidates subsequently identified and recruited for the role, and with the other attendees feeling positive about the employer brand, and interested for any future employment opportunities that might arise later down the line.
The use of assessment centres significantly enhances the recruitment processes. It may take longer, but it offerss much better results than standard interviews. It ensuress an organization has the best candidates for the role who contribute their skills and knowledge to the company’s success?. It also makes the new candidate feels more worthy as they will have proved themselves in various tasks and exercises and be armed with a personal development programme that reflects what they need to do in order to contribute to the organization. Thus, an assessment centre is a win/win situation for all concerned.