Assessment Centers

AuthorTim Barnett, Judith Nixon

Page 21

An assessment center is a process used to make personnel decisions in which participants engage in a variety of exercises and have their performance evaluated by multiple assessors. The goal of an assessment center is to simulate job tasks so that an applicant can demonstrate skills or characteristics that would be effective on the job.

According to the International Task Force on Assessment Center Guidelines, assessment centers:

Conduct job analyses of relevant behaviors

Classify participants' behaviors into meaningful and relevant categories

Use techniques that are designed to provide information for evaluating the dimensions previously determined by the job analysis

Involve multiple assessment techniques, such as tests, interviews, questionnaires, sociometric devices, and simulations

Include a sufficient number of job-related simulations, allowing opportunities to observe the candidate's behavior related to each competency/dimension being assessed

Utilize several assessors to evaluate each participant

Employ thoroughly trained assessors

Provide a means for assessors to record their observations of participants' behavior as it occurs

Involve the preparation of an assessor's report

Base the integration of behaviors on the pooling of assessors' information, or upon a statistical integration process validated in accordance with professionally accepted standards.

Behavioral dimensions that are frequently measured in assessment centers include planning and organizing, leadership, oral communication, tolerance for stress, and initiative. Participants have their performance on these and similar dimensions evaluated while they engaging in two or more of the following activities over a one- or two-day period:

In-basket exercises, in which participants respond to a series of administrative problems that simulate typical managerial tasks

Leaderless group discussions, in which a group of participants without an assigned leader must arrive at a group solution to a specified problem within a given time period

Role-plays, in which participants are involved in a simulation of a situation that could occur on the job

Interviews, in which participants typically are questioned about how they have handled particular work situations in the past and how they would respond to specific work situations in the future

Management games, in which participants must work cooperatively to meet mental or physical challenges

Evaluations of...

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