Assessment Centers

Employees are not contended by just having a job. They want growth and individual development in the organization. An “assessment centre” is a multiple assessment of several individuals performed simultaneously by a group of trained evaluators using a variety of group and individual exercises.

It is a process of evaluation an individual’s potential on the basis of multiple assessment technique, standardized method of making inferences and comments about particular candidates by the assessor.

Assessment centers are a more elaborate set of performance simulation tests, specifically designed to evaluate a candidate’s managerial potential. Line executives, supervisors, and/or trained psychologists evaluate candidates as they go through one to several days of exercises that simulate real problems that they would confront on the job.

Based on a list of descriptive dimensions that the actual job incumbent has to meet, activities might include interviews, in-basket problem-solving exercises, leaderless group discussions, and business decision games. For instance, a candidate might be required to play the role of a manager who must decide how to respond to ten memos in his/her in-basket within a two-hour period. Assessment centers have consistently demonstrated results that predict later job performance in managerial positions.

Common job simulations used in assessment centers are:

  1. In-basket exercises
  2. Group discussions
  3. Simulations of interviews with “subordinates” or “clients”
  4. Fact-finding exercises
  5. Analysis/decision-making problems
  6. Oral presentation exercises
  7. Written communication exercises

Assessment Centers Approach

The assessment center approach was first uses by German military psychologist during second world to select officers. Each candidate had to develop the cover story that would hide her or his identity during the assessment phase. In 1956 AT&T used this method for large-scale study of managerial progress and development. AT&T found that managerial skills and abilities are best means by the following procedures

  • Administrative skill
  • Interpersonal skill
  • Intellectual ability
  • Stability of performance
  • Work oriented motivation
  • Career orientation
  • Dependency on others

The assessment center provides great opportunity to assessor to evaluate the performance of the individual through the system in the long run because these centers do design a system for a particular job and then they see the job related performance. This helps the management in deciding the promotion or selection of the persons for the particular jobs. These centers are not being used for the non-management jobs because the running of soldier’s establishment is itself a big management.

Perhaps the most important feature of the assessment center method is that it relates not to current job performance, but to future performance.  By observing how a participant handles the problems and challenges of the target job or job level (as simulated in the exercises), assessors get a valid picture of how that person would perform in the target position.  This is especially useful when assessing individuals who hold jobs that don’t offer them an opportunity to exhibit behavior related to the target position or level.

Essential features of Assessment Center

  • Job analysis of relevant behaviors
  • Measurement techniques selected based on job analysis
  • Multiple measurement techniques used, including simulation exercises
  • Assessors’ behavioral observations classified into meaningful and relevant categories (dimensions, KSAOs)
  • Multiple observations made for each dimension
  • Multiple assessors used for each candidate
  • Assessors trained to a performance standard
  • Systematic methods of recording behavior
  • Assessors prepare behavior reports in preparation for integration
  • Integration of behaviors through:
    • Pooling of information from assessors and techniques; “consensus” discussion
    • Statistical integration process

Assessment Center Design

Assessment Center

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