Assessment Centers

What is an assessment center (AC)

An Assessment Center (AC) is a procedure that uses multiple assessment tools to measure the candidates' KSAOs from multiple perspectives. Before running an AC, usually a job analysis (sometimes called a job profiling) will be done to determine which KSAOs or which behavioral dimensions are needed in a candidate to perform the job in question. A job analysis is a process by which information on the important job-related aspects is collected by breaking down a job into individual smaller tasks. A list of the required behavioral dimensions that are important for the job will then be determined. Each behavioral dimension is usually assessed by more than one exercise in order to collect evidence from multiple sources.

An AC usually consists of several exercises designed to simulate different job tasks that an employee is required to perform in his or her job. ACs are often used to assess skills that are required for management-level jobs, but sometimes it is also used to assess non-management-level skills. ACs can be designed for both hiring (selection) and development purposes. The duration of an AC can range from one day to several days depending on the level of candidate assessment. The higher the job level, the more exercises are needed to elicit the required skills in a more complex job; thus more time is needed. Usually there are six to twelve candidates and half that number of assessors in an AC. The role of an assessor in an AC is to record each candidate's behavior in each exercise, and then evaluate and score the candidate's performance based on the recorded data. Usually the rating is done on a five-point scale. At the end of an AC, after all the exercises are completed, the assessors will sit together to come up with a group consensus on the overall rating for each candidate. There is one score for each exercise and those scores are sometimes combined to form one, overall score for each candidate. Since observation and evaluation are very important in an AC, assessors must be well trained on how to give fair ratings based on the observations made during each exercise.

One major objective of ACs is to use multiple assessment techniques to evaluate a candidate's performance on all job dimensions to increase the predictive value of future job performance. Taft (1959) found that the predictive power of future performance is enhanced if a candidate's behavior is assessed by multiple assessment techniques, standardized observation and evaluation methods, and adding together the judgments of multiple assessors.