Assessment centres are sometimes also called selection centres and normally consist of a number of tasks and exercises designed to assess the full range of skills, abilities and personal attributes that a candidate requires for a particular job.
They are usually one of the most reliable methods of assessing candidate employees for a role. Standard interviews, or any other method, taken alone, may be as low as 15% accurate. However, when scores from a number of different selection or assessment exercises are combined, their accuracy can rise to over 60%.
When correctly designed, established and run with a professional and objective approach, most assessment centres are generally accepted as a fair and unbiased method of selection, providing equal chances for all candidates and selection based on merit.
Also, a typical assessment centre provides much more valuable information about fit, skills, competencies, behaviour and future potential than any other method of recruitment. Thus, in this article we are going to discuss about the importance of assessment centres.
Benefits of Assessment Centres
Assessment centres can be useful for assessing and analysing multiple candidates, as well as in individual interview cases. They can assist in the crucial task of eliminating any unsuitable or under-performing candidates, or they can be used to select the most talented from a group of candidates.
One of the main advantages of assessment centres is that, the tests used for assessment (including psychometrics and personality assessments) provide a detailed insight into the ability, behaviour, psychology, alignment of values, and motives of candidates. Assessment centres include improved accuracy as they allow a broader range of selection methods to be used during the identification and hiring process.
Assessment centres facilitate an assessment of existing performance on tasks and real-life situations as well as help predict future job performance.
Several other important features of assessment centres include –
- Assessment centres provide the opportunity to identify, assess and differentiate between candidates who seem very similar on characteristics while giving candidates a better insight into the role and organizational culture, as well as their own competencies as they are tested on exercises, which are focused on the role they have applied for.
- Assessment centres help with building employment proposition and popularizing employer brand. A business often tends to impress candidates who attend assessment centres where the process and assessment genuinely reflect the job and the organization in a positive manner, even if they are rejected for the job.
- Costs associated with an assessment centre are usually lower when compared to the potential cost of many other recruitment phases or methods. Since most assessment centres also reduce recruitment errors, there is an internal cost reduction by having fewer errors.
- They are far more accurate and reliable than a standard recruitment process such as an interview, as they allow a broader range of selection and assessment methods to be used during the process for better recruitment.
- Assessment centres enable interviewers to assess ongoing performance as well as predict future job performance and contribution to the organization.
- Assessment centres are a fair process – they complement an organization’s diversity agenda, are objective and unbiased, and thus ensure that people are selected on the basis of merit alone and not on personal opinions of the interviewer.
Removing people from an organization leaves nothing. It’s a well-known saying that people really are an organization’s greatest asset. Research has consistently shown that the quality of staff and the way they work together in relation to each other are the biggest factors driving the performance and success of a company.
We should, therefore, view equally important the methods by which people are hired into the organization and their selection for key roles and promotion. Despite the huge popularity and advances in assessment centre methods, amazingly many organizations are still recruited using the most basic techniques such as seeking references and conducting unstructured interviews. Experts have repeatedly demonstrated that references are biased and many interviews are flawed and subjective.
Most interviewers receive no proper interview training, and tend to select individuals most like themselves or who share similar beliefs, often relying on ‘gut feel’, also depending on their moods. Evidence shows such techniques are a poor predictor of the candidate’s abilities and future success and performance.
However, current assessment centre methodology brings objectivity and accuracy to the selection process.
Using a multi-dimensional approach, they allow for a greater range of knowledge, skills and abilities to be tested and evaluated. The key to a successful assessment is firstly to identify precise factors leading to current job success, known as ‘competencies‘ and secondly, to test and measure candidates for these various competencies.
Assessment centres regularly employ numerous techniques, tasks and exercises to judge the candidate’s ‘fit’ to the job role and organizational environment. These include – competency-base interviewing, psychometric; ability and personality tests, In-tray and written tests, Role-plays and fact finding,
Group decision making exercises, analysis presentations and situational judgement tests. Another advantage of this multi-dimensional approach is that candidates are not judged by one person, but usually a number of assessors, thus making the decision process more open and objective, rather than biased and subjective.
Importance of Assessment Centres
There is great importance of assessment centres in organizations today. Properly designed and implemented assessment centers are more reliable than traditional testing methods such as interviews in evaluating supervisory, managerial, and administrative potential for job roles.
While there is not a great deal of empirical data to support the amount of reliability of the assessment center method, its success is greatly demonstrated by the growing number of for instance, police agencies that have chosen it over other recruitment methods, particularly because the materials used in the assessment center can be directly linked to the job for which candidates are being evaluated.
For example, in the case of an assessment center for the recruitment of a police sergeant, the various exercises such as employee-counseling, shift-meeting, and citizen-interview exercises clearly reflect the typical duties performed by a police officer in several police agencies. Thus, the assessment center is highly adaptable and applicable to all types of positions and assignments.
Assessment centers, for example, can be designed for juvenile officers, community service officers, detectives, dispatchers, and jailers as well as for all ranks up to and including chief of police including many other professions.
Assessment centers are easy to defend if challenged due to the wide range of advantages they have. Assuming that the assessment center includes a thorough job analysis of the job for which candidates are being assessed, and that the proper guidelines are followed systematically during its design and administration, potential challenges to the assessment center method are less likely.
However, this cannot be said for other types of assessment programs. The assessment center is thus mostly fair and objective. Assessment centers test what and how a person can perform, not what they know. A person may have a high intellect and a college degree but will be worthless for a job or role if he is not able to make critical decisions under pressure or lacks the leadership ability to get co workers or subordinates to do what he wants them to.
For the most part, assessment centers are widely accepted and reviewed positively by candidates. The centers are usually seen as a fair and objective way of evaluating candidates for promotion or assignment through a variety of tasks and exercises. Most candidates participating in an assessment center believe the process to be a good evaluation of their ability to do the job for which they are being considered.
The results attained through assessment centres can be used for multiple purposes. In addition to serving to build choices concerning job achievement, assessment center results are often accustomed determine structure discrepancies like poor communications, the requirement for brand spanking newer revised system for instance citizen complaint procedures, as well as organizational and individual training process deficiencies for instance interpersonal skills and report writing skills.
Their versatility makes assessment centers an excellent and useful organizational tool. Depending on how it is designed and exercised, an assessment center can play an important role by providing feedback to candidates about their strengths and weaknesses, thus allowing them an important insight into their skills and abilities and how they can be improved/enhanced for better job opportunities. As a result, candidates receive a very important benefit from their participation in the assessment centre process. Thus, there is great importance of assessment centres in recruitment and selection today.