Assessment and Development Centres

Well constructed assessment and development centres are probably the most sophisticated and reliable way to assess how people are likely to behave in the job. Yes, they’re expensive, but when designed properly, they will provide you with extremely strong evidence on which to base your selection decisions.

Assessment and development centres use the same process - it is the output from each that differs. Assessment centres are used to inform recruitment selection decisions, whereas development centres are used to identify development needs and confirm talent.

How does the process work?

Assessment/Development centres work by asking participants to take part in a series of exercises (usually 3 or 4) designed to simulate the demands of the role for which they are being selected. It is this simulation of ‘real life’ that increases the reliability of the process.

Candidates are observed by expert assessors as they perform the exercise simulations. Typical simulations include group discussions (which can either be competitive or collaborative), one-to-one role-plays, analysis exercises, email in-box exercises, presentations, fact-find exercises and case studies etc. Each candidate is observed by a different assessor during each of the exercises, meaning that multiple observations are made by different assessors to minimise the potential for bias.

Assessors use the ‘ORCE’ process to translate their observations into an evaluation of the candidate’s performance against the specific behaviours being assessed:

  • Assessors record behavioural observations during each exercise – they attempt to capture everything that is said or done during the exercise.
  • Assessors then review the behaviours that are being assessed in the exercise and classify the extent to which the candidate displays those behaviours.
  • Assessors then summarise their evidence noting both positive and negative evidence and referring to specific quotes as far as possible.
  • Assessors then provide an evaluation rating for each competency in each exercise based on their observations. These ratings are fed into a matrix for each candidate allowing an overall decision to be made regarding performance against each of the competencies.

Each assessor produces a concise summary of what each participant did for every competency assessed during each exercise. All the written evidence from each assessor is compiled for each candidate resulting in a detailed individual feedback report.

Once all of the feedback reports have been drafted the assessors meet for a data integration or ‘wash up’ session where the evidence for every candidate is reviewed. This process explores variations in ratings and ensures consistency of rating between assessors. It also identifies strengths and development needs for each candidate based on the evidence generated.

How can we help you?

We have extensive experience of designing and running bespoke assessment centres in a wide range of organisations.

Our approach is to design bespoke exercise simulations based around a fictional organisation. This provides a level playing field for all participants so they are not dis/advantaged by their prior organisational knowledge. It also increases the realism of the event as candidates can immerse themselves in the day and they can make linkages between exercises. The exercises will be designed to simulate tasks that managers are likely to encounter in real life.

We have a strong network of experienced assessors. We will manage the logistics of the event on the day for you and we can provide professional actors where required. We also produce summary reports for the organisation to show the spread of assessment ratings across candidates.

In short we can put together a complete process for you, from initial design right through to ongoing development of successful candidates following the event.