Assessment center - a way to recruit the best employees
All business owners want perfect employees for each position in their companies. People who recruited or assisted in its organization know very well how difficult it is to prepare an advertisement that will "catch" people suitable for a given job, and then select a candidate who meets all the requirements. It is a very big responsibility, because a badly selected employee means lost money and time. In order to minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person, many recruitment methods have been developed to help you find the perfect candidate. One of them - the most complex but also the best one - is the assessment center.
What is the assessment center?
Assessment center (AC for short) in Poland is often referred to as an assessment center or center. The recruitment method in question has received such a name in the country on the Vistula River not without reason - it is indeed the "assessment center", as it consists of various types of tests and tools for checking the candidate, selected specifically for the needs of a specific position in a specific company. They are to help in selecting the best person for a given position, who will perform their duties in accordance with the expectations of the employer.
What distinguishes the assessment center from other recruitment methods is the multidimensionality of the candidate's assessment. As already mentioned, people applying for a given position are asked to perform many different tasks, group and individual, testing the set of competences useful at work. Therefore, the AC can last from several hours to even several days.
The discussed recruitment method is also distinguished by reliability. Throughout the AC session, the candidates are assessed on a point scale by a group of several people called assessors. They are usually specially trained experts, among whom you can meet both psychologists and HR specialists. The main rule is that the group of assessors should include neither the future employer nor persons with whom the candidates would later work. This allows them to be assessed even more objectively.
While the candidates perform their tasks, each assessor assesses all applicants for a given position using specially prepared forms and indicators. The subject of in-depth analysis are, inter alia, candidates' potential, their personality predispositions, knowledge as well as competences needed to function effectively in a given position. The decision is made by adding up the grades given to this person by the assessors.
Methods used in AC
Candidates recruited using the assessment center perform a variety of tasks and complete various types of tests, which can be grouped into larger categories. The most common classification of AC methods is as follows:
task basket (in-basket, in-box) - an individual task that consists in analyzing a set of documents and making decisions based on them, based on a prepared action plan (such competences and skills as: the ability to set priorities, organizational skills are checked time management)
case study - an individual or group task that requires a full analysis of a hypothetical business situation presented in various materials and the preparation of a strategy for further action (here analytical skills, creativity, substantive knowledge and business orientation are assessed),
presentation - an individual task consisting in preparing a short speech on a given or chosen topic (the form and content of the presentation, the ability to organize and present information, communication skills, resistance to stress, time discipline are assessed),
team tasks - tasks performed by a group of candidates who only receive instructions - the selection of methods of action and work planning are an integral part of the exercise (leadership skills, initiative, commitment, persuasion skills are assessed),
work samples - an individual task, which can be described as a "trial period in miniature" - the candidate must face a situation that is as close to reality as possible in a given position (assessed skills depend on the position),
group discussions - a group task in which candidates are asked to discuss a certain issue and establish a common point of view, sometimes according to their assigned roles (e.g., leadership) or goals (leadership skills and cooperation are assessed).
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In addition to specific tasks to be performed by the candidate, the assessment center also uses various types of competence and psychological tests. The first of them are used to diagnose the knowledge of the so-called soft skills, as well as allow you to test the level of specialist knowledge required for a given position. Psychological tests, on the other hand, are used to collect additional information on the personality, style of work, motivation, roles adopted in the team or creativity of the candidates. In AC, tests of abilities (intelligence, creative thinking, etc.) as well as personality tests are used.
An element that often appears during an AC session is a competency interview, similar to the traditionally understood job interview. However, during the interview, the assessor focuses on how the candidate achieved the effects he talks about, and not on the very effects of his actions.
Application of the assessment center
As a recruitment method, AC can be used both in internal and external selection and recruitment of candidates. It is recommended when looking for senior employees for positions that require special skills and competences. In addition, as the Assessment Center is a time- and capital-intensive method, it is rather intended for larger companies that can afford to devote a lot of resources to finding the perfect candidate.
Assessment center can also be used to determine the strengths, weaknesses and development directions of already employed staff. In such a situation, it is usually referred to as a development center.
Advantages and disadvantages of the assessment center
The advantages of this recruitment method certainly include the above-mentioned multidimensionality - many competences are assessed by means of many scales and indicators. Other strengths are objectivity (the decision is made by a team of assessors, not a single recruiter) and the adaptation of tasks and assessment criteria to the requirements of a specific company and position. Scheduled exercises are to best reflect what everyday work looks like in a given workplace. All this contributes to the high reliability of this method.
The biggest disadvantages of an assessment center, which can deter smaller companies from this recruitment method, are its cost and the long time needed to prepare and carry out. Another weakness is that some worthwhile applicants may be “knocked out” by, for example, low resistance to public exposure. This type of task may favor self-confident people with a high resistance to stress.
For large enterprises, the assessment center may turn out to be a good investment. It is a method that allows you to best predict the functioning of a future employee in a given position. Thanks to this, the money invested in solid recruitment will quickly pay off, because properly selected and efficiently operating personnel will start generating profits in a short time. In addition, lower fluctuation will save on subsequent selection processes.