The following are the essential elements for a process to be considered an assessment center
1. Job Analysis
A job analysis of relevant behaviors must be conducted to determine the dimensions, competencies, attributes, and job performance indices important to job success in order to identify what should be evaluated by the assessment center. The type and extent of the job analysis depend on the purpose of assessment, the complexity of the job, the adequacy and appropriateness of prior information about the job, and the similarity of the new job to jobs that have been studied previously. If past job analyses and research are used to select dimensions and exercises for a new job, evidence of the comparability or generalizability of the jobs must be provided. If job does not currently exist, analyses can be done of actual or projected tasks or roles that will comprise the new job, position, job level, or job family.
Target dimensions can also be identified from an analysis of the vision, values, strategies, or key objectives of the organization. Competency-modeling procedures may be used to determine the dimensions/competencies to be assessed by the assessment center, if such procedures are conducted with the same rigor as traditional job analysis methods. Rigor in this regard is defined as the involvement of subject matter experts who are knowledgeable about job requirements, the collection and quantitative evaluation of essential job elements, and the production of evidence of reliable results. Any job analysis or competency modeling must result in clearly specified categories of behavior that can be observed in assessment procedures.
A “competency” may or may not be amenable to behavioral assessment as defined herein. A competency, as used in various contemporary sources, refers to an organizational strength, an organizational goal, a valued objective, a construct, or a grouping of related behaviors or attributes. A competency may be considered a behavioral dimension for the purposes of assessment in an assessment center if:
- It can be defined precisely
- Expressed in terms of behaviors observable on the job or in a job family and in simulation exercises.
- A competency also must be shown to be related to success in the target job or position or job family.
2. Behavioral Classification
Assessment center requires that Behaviors displayed by participants must be classified into meaningful and relevant categories such as dimensions, attributes, characteristics, aptitudes, qualities, skills, abilities, competencies, and knowledge.
3. Assessment Techniques
The techniques used in the assessment center must be designed to provide information for evaluating the dimensions previously determined by the job analysis. Assessment center developers should establish a link from behaviors to competencies to exercises/ assessment techniques. This linkage should be documented in a competency-by exercise/ assessment technique matrix.
4. Multiple Assessments
Multiple assessment techniques must be used. These can include tests, interviews, questionnaires, socio-metric devices, and simulations. The assessment techniques are developed or chosen to elicit a variety of behaviors and information relevant to the selected competencies/ dimensions. Self-assessment and 360 degree assessment data may be gathered as assessment information. The assessment techniques will be pretested to ensure that the techniques provide reliable, objective and relevant behavioral information. Pre-testing might entail trial administration with participants similar to assessment center candidates, thorough review by subject matter experts as to the accuracy and representativeness of behavioral sampling and/or evidence from the use of these techniques for similar jobs in similar organizations.
The assessment techniques must include a sufficient number of job related simulations to allow opportunities to observe the candidate’s behavior related to each competency/ dimension being assessed. At least one—and usually several—job related simulations must be included in each assessment center. A simulation is an exercise or technique designed to elicit behaviors related to dimensions of performance on the job requiring the participants to respond behaviorally to situational stimuli. Examples of simulations include, but are not limited to, group exercises, in-basket exercises, interaction (interview) simulations, presentations, and fact-finding exercises. Stimuli may also be presented through video based or virtual simulations delivered via computer, video, the Internet, or an intranet. Assessment center designers also should be careful to design exercises that reliably elicit a large number of competency-related behaviors. In turn, this should provide assessors with sufficient opportunities to observe competency-related behavior.
Multiple assessors must be used to observe and evaluate each assessee. When selecting a group of assessors, consider characteristics such as diversity of age, sex, organizational level, and functional work area. Computer technology may be used to assess in those situations in which it can be shown that a computer program evaluates behaviors at least as well as a human assessor. The ratio of assessees to assessors is a function of several variables, including the type of exercises used, the dimensions to be evaluated, the roles of the assessors, the type of integration carried out, the amount of assessor training, the experience of the assessors, and the purpose of the assessment center. A typical ratio of assessees to assessors is two to one. A participant’s current supervisor should not be involved in the assessment of a direct subordinate when the resulting data will be used for selection or promotional purposes.
7. Assessor Training
Assessors must receive thorough training and demonstrate performance that meets requirements prior to participating in an assessment center. The training should focus on processing of information, drawing conclusions, interview techniques and understanding behavior.
8. Recording Behavior
A systematic procedure must be used by assessors to record specific behavioral observations accurately at the time of observation. This procedure might include techniques such as handwritten notes, behavioral observation scales, or behavioral checklists. Audio and video recordings of behavior may be made and analyzed at a later date.
Assessors must prepare a report of the observations made during each exercise before the integration discussion. It is suggested that assessors must prepare the report immediately after the assessment is over otherwise they are likely to forget the details. Not only this, these reports must be independently made.
10. Data Integration
The integration of behaviors must be based on a pooling of information from assessors or through a statistical integration process validated in accordance with professionally accepted standards. During the integration discussion of each dimension, assessors should report information derived from the assessment techniques but should not report information irrelevant to the purpose of the assessment process. The integration of information may be accomplished by consensus or by some other method of arriving at a joint decision. Methods of combining assessors’ evaluations of information must be supported by the reliability of the assessors’ discussions. Computer technology may also be used to support the data integration process provided the conditions of this section are met.