How To Create An Assessment Center To Screen Top Talent

May 10, 2023

how to create an assessment center to screen top talent

In today's highly competitive job market, identifying the top talent for your organization is more critical than ever. Traditional hiring methods such as resumes and interviews may not provide a comprehensive evaluation of candidates' skills and potential, leading to costly hiring mistakes. This is where an assessment center comes in.

In this blog, we'll guide you through the steps on how to create an effective assessment center that will help you screen top talent.

What is an assessment center?

An assessment center is a process used by organizations to evaluate candidates for job roles or to identify high-potential employees for development programs. It typically involves a series of assessments that simulate tasks or situations relevant to the job.

These assessments may include interviews, psychometric tests, group exercises, role plays, and simulations. The results of the assessments are used to evaluate candidates' performance and potential against specific job-related competencies or criteria.

Why are assessment centers important?

Assessment centers are an important tool for organizations to use in the recruitment process as they provide a more in-depth evaluation of candidates beyond just their resumes and interviews.

By simulating real-world job situations, assessment centers provide a more accurate measure of candidates' abilities, knowledge, and potential for the role. This helps organizations make more informed hiring decisions and ensures that the best candidates are selected for the job.

Assessment centers also provide valuable feedback to candidates, which can help them improve their skills and abilities in areas where they may be lacking.

How to create an assessment center

how to create an assessment center to screen top talent

The process to create an assessment center typically includes the following steps:

Step 1: Determine the objectives of the assessment center

Determining the objectives of an assessment center is crucial because it sets the direction and purpose for the entire process. The objectives guide the selection of competencies to be assessed, the design of assessment exercises, and the evaluation of candidates' performance.

The assessment center objectives help to ensure that the assessment is fair, valid, and reliable, and that it meets the needs of the organization.

To determine the objectives of an assessment center, you should consider the following:

  • Organizational goals and objectives: review the organization's goals and objectives to identify the competencies required to achieve them.

  • Job analysis: conduct a job analysis to identify the competencies required for success in a specific job or role.

  • Stakeholder input: seek input from stakeholders, including managers, employees, and subject matter experts, to identify the competencies required for success.

  • Competency frameworks: review existing competency frameworks, such as those developed by professional associations or industry groups, to identify the competencies required for success.

Step 2: Develop assessment criteria.

Developing assessment criteria for an assessment center requires a thorough understanding of the competencies required for the job, as well as the ability to develop clear and objective behavioral indicators and rating scales that accurately assess these competencies.

This process may involve:

  • Conducting a job analysis to identify the key competencies required for the job or role being assessed. This can be done by reviewing job descriptions, talking to subject matter experts, and observing job incumbents.

  • Developing behavioral indicators for each of the key competencies. Behavioral indicators describe observable behaviors or actions that demonstrate competency. For example, a behavioral indicator for the competency of communication skills might be "effectively conveys information to others using clear and concise language."

  • Developing rating scales for each of the behavioral indicators. Rating scales are used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates each behavioral indicator. They can be numeric, descriptive, or a combination of both.

Step 3: Choose assessment methods

The choice of assessment methods will depend on the competencies being assessed, the objectives of the assessment center, and the resources available.

There are many different assessment methods that can be used in an assessment center, including:

  • Role-plays: simulate a real-world scenario that the candidate may encounter in the job or role being assessed. The scenario could involve a conflict, a negotiation, or a customer service interaction, among other possibilities.

  • Case studies: could be related to the specific job or role being assessed, or it could be a more general business problem. The case study will typically include a description of the problem, background information, and relevant data.

  • Psychometric tests: designed to measure a candidate’s skills and abilities. All you have to do is select the skills and abilities you want to assess and send the assessment link to your candidates. These tests can assess a wide range of abilities including, verbal, numerical and logical reasoning, as well as soft skills such as adaptability, teamwork and interpersonal skills.

  • Presentations: can be a useful assessment method to evaluate candidates' ability to articulate their ideas effectively, present information in a compelling manner, and engage the audience, providing insights into their potential to succeed in the job or role being assessed.

  • Interviews: can be used to assess candidates’ job knowledge, organizational fit, and motivation and enthusiasm for the role.

Step 4: Train assessors

Depending on the assessment methods you choose, you have to make sure that the assessors have the skills and expertise necessary to accurately evaluate candidates. The best way to do this is by providing training opportunities.

Training should cover topics such as how to observe and evaluate candidates, how to provide constructive feedback, and how to avoid biases that may influence their evaluations.

You should also provide clear instructions on how to conduct the assessment, including how to use the assessment methods, how to evaluate candidates' performance, and how to record their observations.

Step 5: Tell candidates what you expect from them

Provide candidates with information about the assessment center and the exercises they will be required to complete. This can help to create a positive candidate experience, which is important because it enables you to attract top talent.

You should provide this information well in advance of the assessment center. This way, the candidates clearly understand what is expected of them, experience less anxiety and stress, and perceive your assessment process as being fair and objective.

It is also important to offer candidates the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. This can be done through a pre-assessment briefing session, or through email.

Step 6: Conduct the assessment center

how to create an assessment center to screen top talent

The assessment center may be conducted in one day or over a period of several days, during which candidates participate in the exercises you selected.

In-person assessment centers

If you conduct an in-person assessment center, here’s what your organization can do to ensure a smooth and fair process:

  • Greet the candidates and make them feel welcome. Provide them with an overview of the assessment process and the schedule for the day.

  • Ensure that the assessment center is set up and equipped with all the necessary equipment and materials.

  • Monitor the assessments to ensure that they are conducted in a fair and objective manner. Address any issues or concerns that arise during the assessments.

  • Address any logistical issues that arise, such as scheduling conflicts, technical difficulties, or unexpected interruptions.

  • Provide support to the assessors and candidates as needed. Ensure that the candidates have access to refreshments and breaks as needed.

Virtual assessment centers

For virtual assessment centers, provide clear and concise instructions to the candidates on how to participate in the virtual assessment center. The instructions should cover all aspects of the assessment center, including how to access the technology platform, the schedule for the day, and how to complete the assessment exercises.

Ensuring access to technical support is crucial. Technical issues are not uncommon during virtual assessment centers. These may include poor audio or video quality, internet connectivity problems, or platform malfunctions.

Candidates who experience technical issues may become frustrated or anxious, which can affect their performance and their impression of the assessment center.

By providing prompt technical support, your organization can demonstrate its commitment to creating a fair and supportive assessment process, which can help to enhance its employer brand and attract top talent.

Step 7: Provide feedback

Providing constructive feedback to candidates on their performance in the assessment center is a crucial step in ensuring that candidates receive a fair and transparent evaluation.

The feedback should be specific and detailed, highlighting the candidate's strengths and weaknesses as observed during the assessment center.

It may also provide guidance on how to improve and develop the necessary skills and competencies required for the role.

Step 8: Evaluate the effectiveness of the assessment center

Evaluating the effectiveness of the assessment center is crucial to ensure that the hiring process meets its objectives.

Candidates' feedback can offer valuable insights that can be used to improve the next assessment center. Feedback can be collected through surveys, interviews, or focus groups, and should focus on the candidates' experience, including the relevance and fairness of the exercises, the quality of feedback received, and the overall impression of the process.

Feedback can also be gathered from hiring managers, HR professionals, and other decision-makers involved in the hiring process. They can help to identify whether the assessment center met the objectives of the hiring process and suggest areas for improvement.

Assessment centers are an excellent way to identify the top talent that will bring value to your organization, leading to a more successful and productive workforce. As such, it is essential to take the time to design an assessment center that is reliable, valid, and relevant to the job.