With each assessment process there will be candidates who are relieved at the outcome, those who are disappointed but accept the decision, and those who wish to challenge an unsuccessful result.

Each FRS will have their own formal grievance procedure, and generally, for this to be an appropriate course of action, the candidate will feel that their assessment, and result, is unfair. In terms of the Career Progression Gateway (CPG) Assessments, here are some useful facts.

  • CPG exercises are designed according to British Psychological Society Best Practice Guidelines by Chartered Occupational Psychologists, who are trained and experienced in creating exercises to assess behavioural criteria, at an appropriate level, fairly, accurately and without discrimination.
  • Exercises are developed using FRS subject matter experts who are consulted on content. Exercise drafts are reviewed and agreed by internal FRS staff.
  • CPG exercises are quality assured by an external Chartered Occupational Psychologist, who evaluates each exercise against a comprehensive list of key factors, ensuring best practice and principles of equality, diversity and inclusion have been adhered to.
  • CPG assessors are FRS-experienced Occupational Psychologists. They are highly skilled at evaluating performance against behavioural criteria and delivering valid and reliable assessments.
  • CPG results data is reviewed at the end of each project. Borderline results are double checked.
  • All CPG data is reviewed annually, by an external Chartered Occupational Psychologist. This review establishes reliability and validity of the exercises, consistency between different exercise versions, reliability of marking, validity of the outcomes. These results are posted on our website at the end of each year.

As clear as these facts are showing that the CPG is probably the fairest and most reliable bespoke FRS assessment available, if a candidate feels that they have not been given adequate opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities, this information might not provide much comfort. Here is our advice.

  • Provide the feedback report in a supported way, with a member of HR to introduce the results and assessment details. This will give the candidate an opportunity to discuss their concerns with someone who is familiar with the CPG and method of assessment. This is preferable to sending the candidate the feedback report to digest alone, in the first instance.
  • Encourage the candidate to have a feedback session with one of VCA’s Psychologist Assessors. This is incredibly useful in terms of clarifying actual and expected performance, providing reasons, and offering guidance on how to develop the leadership qualities within the workplace. Candidate testimonials demonstrate how effective these sessions are and how they are well received by the candidate’s themselves.
  • If re-marks are requested, provide an explanation as to why this is not advised. Second marking the case study does not substantially change results; there may be slight variations on how individual criteria are marked, and in the wording of assessor comments, but overall the result will be highly similar. It is not possible to re-mark the roleplay. It would be neither fair nor valid to have a second assessor mark an exercise they weren’t involved in, however comprehensive the original assessor’s notes. By opening the door to case study second marking, it may lead to the logical conclusion that the roleplay should be recorded, to facilitate second marking where requested. Recording roleplays is not currently CPG policy, and even when video roleplaying is adopted, the it will be recommended that the recordings are only used by assessors and then deleted after a week. Data protection laws create complications. Recorded role-plays may also lead to a candidate challenging what they ‘meant’ within the role-play, as opposed to the assessor’s interpretation. This scrutiny is subjective and difficult to resolve, and is unnecessary when the assessment is completed anonymously, by impartial, highly qualified experts.
  • Avoid providing individual scores if possible. These are not supplied on the feedback report because the numbers alone can be demoralising and lacking the nuance that thoughtfully constructed assessment evidence provided. Looking at the numbers, even in conjunction with the feedback report, focuses attention away from what the scores actually mean in terms of performance. Candidates can be concerned with ‘winning an extra few marks’ rather than reflecting on the behaviour which is represented by the scores. Overall candidate performance/ scores will be added to reports in the form of colour coding in reports as from 2022, with an overall score of 63% a ‘green’ score, indicating progression to the next stage, with a score of 53-62% being ‘amber’ (denoting being within 10% of a ‘pass’), and 52% and below a ‘red’. The focus of feedback discussions should remain on the evidence and what this means in practice.
  • Recommend coaching and/ or mentoring. Coaching can be with an internal facilitator, or via a feedback coaching session on CPG and leadership quality performance, or additionally a series of four sessions with one of VCA’s Psychologists (recommended for individuals who have been unsuccessful at the CPG twice or more).

Other steps to avoid challenges

  • Briefing
    It is vital that candidates attend their assessments feeling confident about what the tasks will be, what is expected of them and how they can do their best. They need to know what steps they can take to prepare in advance, and they need to understand the criteria they will be measured against. The greater their understanding and familiarity with the process, the better they will be able to perform and the acceptance of final results is likely to be higher. We can assist in this process and have options of support ranging from; briefing materials to help you facilitate your own, in-house, briefing session; eBooks containing information, as well as practice worksheets for candidates to complete; remote briefing sessions hosted by one of our assessors; and an e-learning course covering Leadership Quality performance and assessment preparation, designed early in 2022.
  • Reasonable Adjustments
    Although extra time given to complete exercises is commonplace as a reasonable adjustment, this isn’t appropriate for all neuro-diverse candidates. The responsibility of the candidate is to ensure they have been professionally assessed to determine what additional support they require, either independently, or in some cases with the support of their FRS. VCA Ltd can facilitate these assessments if required.

    It is then the organisation’s responsibility to make sure that enough notice is given for the assessment to be adjusted to meet the individual’s needs, through software or other solutions. This might be options such as adding the text to speech function; written answers dictated; paper-based versions; different colour of screen or size of text. The candidate needs to be comfortable that the adjustments made suit their needs before the assessment can proceed.

  • Minimum Exercises
    Use at least two different types of assessment, preferably measuring the same criteria using the same scoring methodology, such as using both the Case Study and the Role-play CPG. Using only one exercise isn’t advised because it provides a narrow snapshot of performance using a single format, which may not be where some candidates’ skills lie. It puts a great deal of pressure on the candidate, and feedback is less robust (with two exercises you can explore themes and tendencies apparent across two scenarios and formats). Using the average of two assessments improves the likelihood of an accurate representation of candidate performance, reducing the risk of uncharacteristically poor performance in candidates, and thus reducing the likelihood of challenge.