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What is an Assessment Centre?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains what is an assessment centre.

0:52 Quickly understand assessment centres.

Assessment centres are formal processes which involves groups of candidates attending a central location and completing a range of tests, assessments, and exercises. Assessment centres are typically the final stage of the recruitment process, and only the highest potential candidates are invited. Assessment centres usually last for the entirety of a single working day, but they can range from half a day to two full days, depending on the employer. A wide range of exercises and assessments may be included in an assessment centre, which could include psychometric tests, group exercises, case study exercises, presentation exercises, and rounds of interviews.

Assessment centres are commonly used in graduate recruitment, particularly in larger organisations.

Some assessment centres may be relatively small, perhaps with fewer than 10 delegates, but for the largest graduate schemes, some assessment centres could receive over 100 delegates. A team of assessors will evaluate the performance of each candidate throughout the selection process, ultimately giving each candidate a score. Candidates with the highest score will be given an offer of employment, and the lowest scoring candidates will be rejected.

Research shows that assessment centres are useful predictors of job performance, but less than one would expect.

Schmidt & Hunter, 1998

Often, assessors score candidates using a “wash-up session”, where assessors simply chat informally amongst themselves to decide each candidates’ score. This naturally reduces the validity of the assessment centre, introducing bias into the process. However, when assessors utilise an “actuarial” approach i.e. they simply average scores on each exercise, assessment centre validity tends to increase.