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Personnel Selection: Methods: Assessment Centers

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PersonnelSelection:Methods:AssessmentCenters
AnAssessmentCenterconsistsofastandardizedevaluationofbehaviorbasedonmultiple
evaluationsincluding:jobrelatedsimulations,interviews,and/orpsychologicaltests.Job
Simulationsareusedtoevaluatecandidatesonbehaviorsrelevanttothemostcriticalaspects
(orcompetencies)ofthejob.
Severaltrainedobserversandtechniquesareused.Judgmentsaboutbehavioraremadeand
recorded.Thesejudgmentsarepooledinameetingamongtheassessorsorbyanaveraging
process.Indiscussionamongassessors,comprehensiveaccountsofbehavior,often
includingratings,arepooled.Thediscussionresultsinevaluationsoftheperformanceofthe
assesseesonthedimensionsorothervariables.
LeaderlessGroupDiscussion
A. Theleaderlessgroupdiscussionisatypeofassessmentcenterexercisewheregroups
ofapplicantsmeetasagrouptodiscussanactualjobrelatedproblem.Asthemeeting
proceeds,thebehaviorofthecandidatesisobservedtoseehowtheyinteractandwhat
leadershipandcommunicationsskillseachpersondisplays(Schultz&Schultz,1994).
B. Problemswiththistechnique:
1. Thistypeofexercisewasnotfeasibleforselectingcandidatesfromapotential
applicantpoolof8000individualsbecauseofthetimeandcostinvolvedwith
trainingtheindividualsratingtheapplicants.
2. Sinceeverygroupwouldbedifferent,individualscouldarguethattheprocessis
biasedorunfair.
3. Theprocessisnotstandardized.
RolePlaying
A. Roleplayingisatypeofassessmentcenterexercisewherethecandidateassumesthe
roleoftheincumbentofthepositionandmustdealwithanotherpersoninajobrelated
situation.Atrainedroleplayerisusedandresponds"incharacter"totheactionsofthe
candidate.Performanceisassessedbyobservingraters.
B. Problemswiththistechnique:
1. Sincethistechniqueisnotconducivetogroupadministration,testsecuritywould
beanissue.
2. Jobcontentareasidentifiedinthejobanalysiswerenotasamenabletothistype
ofexerciseastheyweretotheselectiontechniquesutilizedinthefinaltest
AssessmentCenterExercisesAnAssessmentCentercanbedefinedas"avarietyof
testingtechniquesdesignedtoallowcandidatestodemonstrate,understandardized
conditions,theskillsandabilitiesthataremostessentialforsuccessinagivenjob"(Coleman,
1987).Theterm"assessmentcenter"isreallyacatchalltermthatcanconsistofsomeorallof
avarietyofexercises.Assessmentcentersusuallyhavesomesortofinbasketexercisewhich
containscontentssimilartothosewhicharefoundintheinbasketforthejobwhichisbeing
tested.Otherpossibilitiesincludeoralexercises,counselingsimulations,problemanalysis
exercises,interviewsimulations,roleplayexercises,writtenreport/analysisexercises,and
leaderlessgroupexercises(Coleman,1987Filer,1979Joiner,1984).Assessmentcenters
allowcandidatestodemonstratemoreoftheirskillsthroughanumberofjobrelevant
situations(Joiner,1984).
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Whileassessmentcentersvaryinthenumberandtypeofexercisesincluded,twoofthemost
commonexercisesaretheinbasketandtheoralexercise.Inatraditionalinbasketexercise,
candidatesaregiventimetoreviewthematerialandinitiateinwritingwhateveractionsthey
believetobemostappropriateinrelationtoeachinbasketitem.Whentimeiscalledforthe
exercise,theinbasketmaterialsandanynotes,letters,memos,orothercorrespondence
writtenbythecandidatearecollectedforreviewbyoneormoreassessors.Oftenthe
candidatesaretheninterviewedtoensurethattheassessor(s)understandactionstakenby
thecandidateandtherationalefortheactions.Ifaninterviewisnotpossible,itisalsoquite
commontohavethecandidatecompleteasummarysheet(i.e.,aquestionnaire).Thus,a
morerecenttrendoverthepastten(10)yearshasbeenthedevelopmentofselection
procedureswhicharebasedupontheassessmentcentermodel,butwhichcanbeturnedinto
lowfidelitysimulations(Motowidlo,etal.,1990).Somelowfidelitysimulationsinvolvehaving
anapplicantreadaboutaworksituation.Theapplicantthenrespondstothesituationby
choosingoneoffivealternativeanswers.Someprocedureshavetheapplicantchoosethe
responsehe/shewouldmostlikelymakeinasituationandtheresponsethathe/shewould
leastlikelymake.Thesesamplesofhypotheticalworkbehaviorhavebeenfoundtobevalid
predictorsofjobperformance(Motowidlo,etal.,1990).
Recently,theinbaskethasbecomeafocusofinterestbecauseofit'susefulnessinselection
acrossawidevarietyofjobs(Schippmann,Prien,&Katz,1990).Avarietyoftechniqueshave
beenusedtodevelopinbaskets.Quiteofteninformationonaninbasket'sdevelopmentisnot
availableforreviewbecausethereportsdonotcontainthecriticalinformation.Itisnot
uncommonforarmchairmethodstobeused,orforinbasketstobetakenofftheshelf.A
recentreviewindicatedthatnearly50%ofthestudiesdonotdescribehowtheinbasketwas
constructed(Schippmann,etal.,1990).Thereisalsoagreatdealofvariationamongtheways
inwhichtheinbasketisscored.Thereisarangeofobjectivityinscoringwithsomescoring
systemsutilizealmostentirelyhumanjudgment,whileothersutilizeapurelyobjective
approach.Theinbasketexercisemaybethoughtofasanapproachwhichassessesa
candidate's"practicalthinking"ability(Scribner,19861984),byhavingacandidateengage
inimplicitproblemsolvingforajobrelevanttask.
Itisnowwellrecognizedthatacontentvalidapproachtoconstructinganinbasketisone
whichisprofessionallyacceptedasatechniquewhichhaspassedlegalscrutiny.However,
despitetheacceptancebythecourtsandpractitioners,thereportingbasisforcontentvalidity
isoftendeficient.Schippmannetal.(1990)pointoutthatallthestudiestheyreviewedfailedto
establishalinkbetweenthetaskportion,andtheknowledge,skill,andabilityportionofthe
jobanalysisinordertoprovideafirmfoundationfortheconstructionoftheinbasket.Often
therehasbeennoprocedurefortranslatingthejobanalysisinformationintodevelopmentor
choiceofthetest.
Likeallassessmentcenterexercises,oralexercisescantakemanyformsdependingonthe
workbehaviorsorfactorsofthejobbeingsimulated.Commonformsoforalexercisesinclude
pressconferenceexercises,formalpresentations,andinformalpresentations(briefing
exercise).Inoralpresentationexercises,candidatesaregivenabriefperiodoftimeinwhich
toplan/organizetheirthoughts,makenotes,etc.,forthepresentation/briefing.Traditionally,
theaudienceisplayedbytheassessor(s)whoobservesthepresentationandmakesratings.
Candidatesmayalsobeaskedaseriesofquestionsfollowingtheirbriefing/presentation.The
questionsmayormaynotrelatedirectlytothetopicofthepresentation.
Today,theassessmentcentermethodisutilizedinavarietyofsettingsincludingindustryand
business,government,armedforces,educationalinstitutions,andsafetyforcestoselect
individualsforsupervisory,technical,sales,ormanagementpositions.Theseassessment
centersvaryinlength,time,andselectionofexercises.Thecurrenttrendisinthe
developmentofassessmentcentersamenabletomasstesting.Thetraditionalassessment
centerexercisesrequiretheuseofliveraters,andgenerallyarenotabletoassessmorethan
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afewcandidatesperday.Thisthenbecomesanextremelycostlyformofselectionfor
organizations.Today,theuseofaudiotaping,andtheuseofobjectivelyscoredinbasket
exercisespermitstheassessmentofamuchlargernumberofcandidatesperday,because
theratingoftheexercisetakesplaceatalaterdate.Thisallowsamorewidespreaduseofthe
assessmentcentertechnique,becauseitisbecomingamoretimeandcosteffectivemethod.

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