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Assessing the use of Assessment Centres

In a nutshell, assessment centres implement a combination of tasks and activities that test a candidate’s suitability to a job. They can take many forms such as role play exercises, group tasks, case study analysis and psychometric tests. For specialist roles or large-intake programmes, such as graduate schemes, assessment centres are a popular recruitment tool.

Let’s find out why are they so highly valued by recruiters to whittle down candidates to the final stage of the selection process.

Predictive accuracy

With a strong predictive correlation coefficient, assessment centres offer the core benefit of accuracy when compared to the most common methods used in standard recruitment processes. With a basic interview there is a real danger of applying different measures to candidate assessment – interviewer bias, the ‘halo’ effect, the clone effect, and the differing subjective opinions of different interviewers for different days! And for graduates, GPAs may not be a good indicator of how they will perform in the professional environment. Thanks to a broad and rigours array of assessment opportunities and exercises an assessment centre can overcome both these problems.

Watching candidates in action

Assessment centres really embody the phrase “seeing is believing”. Especially during a simulated business exercise, recruiters can see candidates acting in a real-life job situation rather than simply take their word of how they will perform or relying on their own self-assessment during interview. They also make it easier to assess and compare candidates who might seem to be of equal quality on paper, but fare very differently in a ‘real world’ situation.

These centres also allow employers to simulate realistic job previews and see how the applicants behave in a team environment. For example, the group might be required to work together on a posed business problem to see which roles they take within a team, how they interact, influence, communicate, negotiate, problem solve and work effectively with others.

It can also be a good opportunity for more diabolical recruiters to throw a curveball question or task intended to reveal how candidates react under pressure.

Candidate experience

The assessment centre experience is thorough, transparent and it also gives the candidates a true insight into the values and culture of the employer company. Candidates may often be provided the opportunity to meet key managers and have a chance to talk to them informally and get a sense of what it is really like to work for the employer. Even the candidates who aren’t successful in getting a job will leave with a positive impression of the company and its hiring process.


The most obvious limitation to assessment centres is the cost to run them. Depending on how many components recruiters want to use, the cost can exceed thousands of dollars even if employers administer it themselves by configuring bespoke assessments.

Assessment centres may also be less suitable for higher tier roles and senior positions. While they aren’t limited to a certain age demographic, assessment centres work best by providing a level playing field for graduate type roles with applicants lacking experience.

However, assessment centres may not be the most objective way to assess personality types and make the experience inclusive for everyone. Sometimes the assessment centre environment can disadvantage ‘introverts’ who prefer to observe and reflect. It does this indirectly as it provides an opportunity for extroverts to shine through their tendency to actively and frequently participate with vocal contributions.

Running the assessment centre right

Given the importance of assessment centres, it is essential to run them well and without error. Common pitfalls include a failure to define objectives, key competencies and measurable skills beforehand, and agree a measurement process. Without this, the assessment centre becomes as subjective as the unstructured interview process, while costing the company a whole lot more. Recruiters can avoid this trap with the support of a system that can consolidate all candidate results and provide decision makers with quick and usable data to make objective decisions.

When done right, assessment centres make for an indispensable tool to help reduce the cost of bad hires and save on the time and resource.

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