The assessment centre is a method of evaluating competences, based on observation through multiple simulation exercises which take place in a fictitious professional context (e.g. management case, crisis or negotiation situation) relating to aptitudes, motivation and personality.
The simulation is the main and essential technique of the method because the exercise allows behaviour to be revealed, observed and translated into skills that can be really acquired and developed. It is not so much a question of giving a performance score at the end of an exercise that is as realistic as possible, but rather of understanding how the person apprehended the exercise, dealt with it and behaved in relation to information, situations and fictitious interlocutors.
The evaluation is carried out (…) by several observers, formalised in a descriptive, thorough and detailed manner, and then given back to the candidates in the form of an in-depth feedback interview.
Different formulas are possible: individual or group (a more interactive formula allowing to highlight behaviours specific to a collaborative situation).
This method makes it possible to understand how candidates react to a given situation, without trying to destabilise them. It thus measures the adequacy between the behaviour, linked to the personality and experience of the person, and the requirements of the future position. The definition of a competency model, based on some thirty criteria (strategic vision, flexibility, persuasiveness, stress management, people management, etc.) derived from major behavioural segments (interactions, information processing, leadership, etc.), determines the key elements of the position.
It can also be used to identify people with potential within a company and give them the means to develop. The tool can be used in various ways: short-term recruitment decisions, development of career plans, objectification of decisions on internal appointments, determination of training needs or research into the causes of certain “dysfunctions”.
The evaluation tools chosen and arranged according to the skills to be evaluated are multiple and of different types:
- Simulation and role-playing exercises
- Organisation and planning exercises
- Structured interview
- Personality questionnaire
- Motivation questionnaire
- Aptitude tests
- Questionnaire targeting ‘learning styles
There are several ways of conducting an assessment centre and these can be more or less convincing. For example, a custom-built competency model, assessed by several assessors using multiple, scientifically constructed tools, allows for an objective, detailed and exhaustive evaluation of candidates.