At a certain moment in our careers, we have all gone through, or at least have heard of an assessment center.
But what is as assessment center exactly? What does it measure and what do you get out of it as a company? And maybe even more interestingly, what can you do yourself, being a scale-up and looking for well-thought, but also quick and swift recruitment solutions which do not require a huge financial investment?
Do read along to discover all about it.
An assessment center - as we know it from past experiences and reputation - is generally not the most enjoyable process to go through as a candidate, however can be highly insightful in terms of strengths and weaknesses of your candidate, and also gives concrete ideas on people's development needs.
During a recruitment process, a bond is being created between the hiring company and the candidate. They try to sell themselves to each other, show their best sides and don't spare efforts to put their talents and benefits in the spotlights.
But there is also a risk that both parties get blind-sided for different reasons: it might be very hard to find the perfect fit, so you might want to settle for less, or there is a good connection, but maybe there could be some behavioral issues.
As a company, stakes are high. A bad hire can easily cost you 40.000 EUR! Check our calculations here.
What is the secret formula of an assessment?
We all prefer a minor investment over a huge loss, so let's have a closer look at these assessment centers and what they can bring to your company.
The set-up of an assessment depends on the expectations of the company, but elements that are part of the 'standard package' are:
- A personality questionnaire
- Reasoning ability tests,
- A business case
- A role play
- A competency-based interview
More and more, we also see a focus on motivational drivers and emotional intelligence. Bringing this all together in a 1-day assessment center, it is a highly tiring but also valuable learning experience for both the subject and the hiring company.
Based on job content and company culture, competencies are selected that will be measured throughout the assessment center and in the different exercises.
For your background: an assessment is built around the axes of objective and subjective exercises and observation. Every competency is measured at different times (and in various ways) in different exercises, and every exercise measures more than one competency.
What is the role of the assessor?
An assessor is a certified professional who observes behavioral competencies and puts your candidate to the test. They put aside personal biases and do not go any further than the level of 'observation': you will receive a behavioral report about your candidate, describing strengths and development areas observed by this assessor. They will also come up with development tips and concrete advice on how to improve in specific business settings.
The most significant advantage of assessment centers led by professional assessors is that these are more accurate predictors of performance since candidates are asked to execute tasks closer to real work situations. Both the hiring company and the candidates get a more accurate picture of what may lie ahead.
Super useful, these assessment centers, right?
An assessment center allows to get objective feedback on the selected competencies. If any other anomalies come at the surface, your assessor will also tell you about them, since it can be decisive for hiring or not.
However, there are also some backsides to this beautiful 'being sure about your choice' story.
- First of all, a candidate can have an off-day. If Murphy hits, things can go very wrong. And if the candidate gets discouraged after one bad exercise, they might not be able to regain focus.
- Next, it is rather time-consuming. You need time to design the assessment center, you need to book the day, your candidate needs to free up their agenda and the report has to be written, which might take up to 1 week.
You want to maintain the quality in your hiring process, but you also want to increase the speed.
The combination of these two elements will lead to the best recruitment strategy in place.
How to maintain quality and increase speed?
You might want to consider other solutions or methodologies than a classic full-day assessment center.
We happily share a list with advice on what you can do yourselves:
- Online platforms are available to take numerical, logical, abstract and verbal reasoning tests.
- Multiple interviews with different stakeholders help to objectify interview outcomes and take on different angles.
- Design your own business case to gain a deeper insight in how people actually work.
Designing your own business case takes time at the beginning, but can be a helpful tool, not only to get fresh ideas and new ways of looking at a problem you are currently facing. It's also a way to compare candidates and to see people in an actual work situation.
How to set up a business case?
- Define a topic of your choice and describe a problem you are currently facing.
- Give information about different options, with some high-level pros and cons, but also leave some room for the candidate to make assumptions.
- Share relevant data on finances, performance, ... Whatever seems useful for this. You can overdo this part: this way, candidates will already have to distinguish between essential and less important information.
- Ask them to come up with their analysis and an action plan.
- Probe their ideas and understanding by a Q&A session. You can do this alone, but you can also invite team members to the panel.
These cases are also much appreciated by candidates, as they get some practical insights in your company. So they can be a real win-win!
Our solution for a high-quality hiring process
At this point, you might be convinced that a focus on positive sides of your candidate alone, or only trusting your gut feeling during an interview, might be a bit too risky. HR Design Toolkit is here to help you out.
You can do an in-depth structured interview yourself, using our template.
The tool is built to structure an interview in an organic and logical way. It will inspire your with ideas and targeted questions to check skill, culture and motivation fit.
>> The structured interview guide is part of our DIY headhunting script