Assessment Centre (AC)
The assessment centre is a multi-stage selection procedure in which the aptitude of applicants is assessed. It usually includes preparatory exercises, which should be completed several days to weeks in advance, as well as a dense programme on the assessment day itself. An assessment is usually used for recruitment but can also be used in staff development.
Assessment centres are usually one of the last hurdles to overcome before landing your dream job. You can learn how to best prepare for your assessment centre here.
As a first step, it is helpful if you know whether the assessment will be conducted internally or whether external consultants will be involved. If it is an internal assessment, it is best to ask some of your colleagues whether they have already had such an assessment and if so, what their experiences were. Also ask them how the day went and what they would recommend for optimal preparation. It is generally a good idea to ask for help from people you know who have already been through an assessment for a comparable job.
In order to make a good impression during the assessment, you should be familiar with current industry-specific affairs, such as recent events and developments. For example, you can read the daily newspaper (make sure that the articles are well-founded) or refer to magazines that are typical for the sector. It can also be very helpful to follow the company on social media platforms to keep up to date with the latest developments. The knowledge you acquire through this can, when used correctly, give a very interested and competent impression. During the assessment, you will also be able to answer questions skilfully and confidently in light of the overall context of the industry.
In an assessment, similar analyses and exercises are often used. By familiarising yourself with the strategic approach to such assessment exercises before the assessment, you will gain important experience which will ultimately enable you to approach the tasks in a calmer and more structured way during the assessment. You can find examples for such exercises on our platform here.
In the event that a preparatory exercise - for example, in the form of a presentation - is required, you should allow sufficient time for this. Careful consideration of the task is of course essential. When preparing, think about what further questions the audience might ask and prepare possible answers.
Common assessment exercises
Below you will find a list of particularly popular and frequently used assessment exercises:
The aim of individual exercises is to test the knowledge and skills of the applicant. In principle, almost all exercises in the assessment process are individual exercises, with the exception of role plays, in which assessors take on the role of their counterparts, and any group exercises.
In case studies, the applicants have to analyse a given scenario and work out a solution for, say, a fictitious company. This solution is then presented to the observers in a presentation. In this presentation, attention is paid to organisation, structure, appearance, and social and entrepreneurial competences.
In role plays, a fictitious scenario is described. In this scenario, the applicant has to achieve a certain goal. Oftentimes, this goal is to convince the other person of something. It is about showing assertiveness, negotiation skills and leadership techniques. It can also test qualities such as empathy and social skills.
Here, the applicant receives a "mailbox" to manage. In the process, the applicant keeps receiving new information and tasks, and must determine the order in which these are processed and the priority given to each task themselves. Usually there is not enough time to do every task and you have to prioritise and focus on the essentials.
Several applicants take part in a group exercise and have to solve a problem together. The assessors observe, for example, how the individuals contribute to the group dynamic. However, group exercises are relatively rare, as they can only provide limited additional information about a person.
Procedure of an assessment
An assessment centre usually consists of various exercises. However, the general procedure and the type of exercises are usually quite similar. In the following, we will show you a practical sample procedure of an assessment. You should already be familiar with one or the other exercise from the previous descriptions.
In the self-presentation, the applicant presents their professional career to date. Special reference should be made to milestones and professional successes. The self-presentation gives the applicant the chance to show why they are the right person for the job. The relevance and connection to the advertised position should be made clear.
Exercises and analyses
Here you can expect a combination of different exercises and analyses. Typically, a case study is used in combination with one or two role-plays. Intelligence tests and other analyses that test concentration are also frequently seen.
The feedback is usually no longer part of the assessment itself. Initially, after the assessment, you receive information on what to expect next. Possibly, some brief verbal feedback will be given at this stage. In a second phase, a few days or weeks after the assessment, you will receive the final, more detailed and usually written feedback. In this feedback, the applicant is informed about the decision and the reasons for it.
Think in advance about which skills and abilities could be relevant for the position you are applying for. Knowing what the observers are looking for will help you to behave accordingly during the assessment and to give targeted answers.
- Be aware that you will also be observed during the breaks! So make sure you are friendly, courteous and consistent in your appearance.