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An assessment center is a recruitment selection process where a group of candidates is assessed at the same time and place using a wide range of selection exercises. These exercises depend on the specific job position that the candidates applied to. Usually larger employers use assessment centers as it is one of the most effective methods for selecting candidates from a larger pool of applicants. The tests conducted at the assessment centers are used to predict a candidate’s suitability for a job and fit within the company culture.
Duration of the Assessment Center
The duration of an assessment center may be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This depends on the position or role in the specific organization that the candidates are applying to. Generally, the higher the position in an organization, the more candidates will be subject to different types of tests to measure suitability. An assessment center may be conducted in the office of the company itself, or at the premises of the professional assessment consulting firm hired or at an external venue.
Usually, the number of candidates that might appear in an assessment center will be modest. Often the assessment center is the next step in the recruitment process, after the e-assessment. The e-assessment is performed at home or at an office location, generally to screen large amounts of candidates. The candidates who performed best on the e-assessment are invited to the next round and assessment center.
Assessment of the candidates
While aptitude tests are standardized tests, assessment center exercises such as interviews, presentation- and role play exercises are assessed by professional assessors. Some centers may involve a behavior analyst or a psychologist to study the body language of the candidates. In interviews, the assessors might use different interview techniques while in presentation- or role play exercises, they may be spectators observing the candidates quietly. The different types of tests may have different assessors. The total number of assessors is generally in the single digits.
Events at the Assessment Center
Assessment centers usually start with a briefing of the candidates. The assessors or representative(s) of the company may brief the candidates about what the day will look like and what they can expect. Any required documents may be submitted and attendances marked. Detailed instructions will be provided at the start of each of the tests, and any queries of candidates will then be answered. After addressing the questions and/or any uncertainties the test or exercise will commence.
Assessment center exercises
The types of tests, difficulty level, and duration differs and depends on the job position for which the assessment center is being conducted. It is also dependent on the area of expertise related to it. For instance, an assessment for sales and marketing positions might require more verbal, presentation and situational skill tests and exercises, while an analyst position requires more numerical and case-study types of tests and exercises. Generally, the written or computer tests, if any, are conducted first; followed by communication and verbal exercises, such as group and role play exercises; and a direct interview in the end.
Commonly used assessment center exercises are:
Psychometric tests may be used to analyze the skills and abilities of a candidate and match these with the requirement of the job position. These tests are designed to filter out the right candidate for the specific job opening. Psychometric tests are conducted either in written form or online may help companies find out the right candidate for the job. The medium used for conducting these tests may be online or written. We can divide the psychometric test part into the following two categories:
Aptitude and ability tests are designed to measure logical reasoning or thinking performance. They are standardized tests consisting of multiple choice questions that are administered under strict exam conditions. There are hundreds, if not thousands of aptitude and ability tests on the market. Popular test areas are verbal ability, numerical ability, abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, mechanical reasoning and error/data checking tests.
Personality tests are standardized questionnaires to reveal the aspects of a candidate’s character. It is used to determine typical reactions of a candidate to various situations. Employers look at several factors during the recruitment process, such as how well you get on with others, your reaction to stressful situations and other forms of attitude towards work- and non-work-related situations.
During a role play exercise, candidates are expected to act out a scenario with either a group of peers or just one or more interviewers/observers. Usually, these types of simulation exercises are situations they may encounter while performing the job they are applying for, but this does not necessarily have to be the case. Common example scenarios might include dealing with a customer complaint or marketing a new brand. Candidates may be asked to analyze a situation, propose/discuss solutions or fulfill the objective considering various elements included in the simulated environment. Prioritization and decision making skills are key during this exercise.
These types of exercises are commonly used during assessment centers and are similar in nature to a panel interview. Group exercises are assessed discussions that usually involve a small group of job candidates (usually between 6 and 10 people), following a question/statement posed by an assessor or recruiter. Group exercises are conducted in assigned and unassigned roles, depending on the job role. Performance of each of the candidates is assessed and rated in relation to the performance criteria such as leadership and persuasiveness.
Presentation exercises are used to analyze the communication, presentation and persuasion skills of the candidates. Candidates might, for instance, be provided with a report and asked to present their views regarding the material. A question-round at the end of the presentation is common.
Panel interviews are similar in nature to regular interviews, only rather than facing just a recruiter or team member, there may be anywhere from three to six people on the panel. The people on the panel depend on the business in which the recruiting organization is active. This might be HR people, consultants/team members and/or partners. At the start of the interview, the panel members will introduce themselves and explain how the interview will be structured.
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