The easy answer is yes, of course. How you choose to select staff for entry level recruitment, promotion or further development has to suit your organisation, and some don’t feel that an assessment centre (AC) is necessary.

However, if you examine the issue more closely, there can be more to consider. With both scientific research and anecdotal evidence showing a wealth of positive results associated with an AC, is it worth it to not use this practical method to make difficult selection decisions?

Best practice

As a means of selecting the right person to join your organisation or be promoted within it, you can’t beat assessment centres. They are the most accurate and reliable way of evaluating the skills and personal attributes of your candidates.

Relevant and challenging

On completing the AC, the vast majority of candidates feel that they have been fairly and accurately assessed. With the use of professional exercises and proper centre management candidates report feeling constructively challenged, that the experience was relevant, and that irrespective of their result, they are accepting of the process. Not many selection procedures can boast the same sort of satisfaction ratings, and the importance of these lies with staff morale, perception of the organisation and how it will be reported to others. Assessment processes which seem arbitrary, unfair or biased have a proven negative impact on staff morale and motivation and contribute to poor performance and retention.

Effective measurement

AC’s use a range of carefully matched job simulation activities .These provide a really good sense of what your candidate can do in a relevant context. It’s not about what they say they can do; it’s about proving it in practice. Candidates are assessed in a fair and objective way by trained assessors. Whether or not they are selected is not down to how ‘likeable’ they are, but based on scientific measurement of clearly delineated aspects their performance.

ACs are based on clear criteria with candidates measured against transparent benchmarks. Many selection processes overlook the importance of evaluations which provide detailed evidence about where candidates match desired criteria and where they don’t. In fact, other selection processes often not only don’t have specific criteria, neither do they have guidelines for assessors of what performance should look like to justify each score. If you were being assessed for an important career change, would you want to be assessed using a simple numerical rating scale (e.g. 1-4) on general performance, or would you like to feel you were being measured against open criteria, with evidence generated to support each of the ratings allocated to your performance? Would you want your performance to be broken down into a range of specific areas to give you the most information possible about the specifics of how you behave, or be given a global evaluation of ‘poor’ or ‘good’ based on a limited number of factors? And which is going to be most useful not only to your development going forward, but also to the organisation?

Organisational and individual development

These sorts of assessments aren’t just about selection and promotion. They also play a vital role in evaluating development needs and directing future organisational activity. Large organisations seeking to develop their management capabilities internally will often use this type of assessment as it shows where talent lies, where it needs to be developed or where it might need to be re-deployed.

In answer to the question, could you manage without an ADC, then the answer remains, yes you could. But perhaps a more relevant question is, given the far reaching benefits and positive impacts, why would you want to?

Help with your assessment and development centres

We have toolkits of exercises which offer a complete ADC package which you can use within your organisation. We can design exercises specific to your organisation. We can offer individual exercises which meet specific assessment needs. Contact us for more information or register/ log in to our members’ area to read our exercise pen portraits and download free resources to help you maximise the efficiency of your assessment process.