In an era where recruitment is about ‘fit’ and an alignment with values and behaviours how can an assessment centre help?

In a standard interview it is very difficult to assess not just whether someone can do the job but how they will do it. It takes a skilled interviewer to pick up on the clues that tell you someone is not telling the truth about what they can do.

Assessment centres allow an organisation to utilise a number of different assessment techniques to validate a candidate’s capability and values. The more techniques you use, the better the chance of getting the hire right.

A good assessment centre will do a number of things.

  1. Uncover skill and approach to tasks: The best assessments include a simulation where people have to ‘do’ something, which means they can be observed both in terms of skill, i.e. does the person have the skill, and how they would do the task. For instance, how people interact with others, or apply critical thinking.
  2. Finds the true person: The beauty of this approach is that it uncovers people who put on a mask for an interview and gives those more reserved a chance to demonstrate skills and their potential to learn and develop as the day unfolds.
  3. Helps define a clear people plan: We’ve delivered a lot of assessments in the last year for organisations who are making major strategic changes and need to evaluate if the people they employ are right for the type of organisation they intend to become.

As a result, they have been able to identify people who need to move on, people who have skills they haven’t demonstrated before and are a good fit for the future (and would otherwise have been overlooked), and people who will continue to be solid performers.

  1. Fairness: A major benefit to assessments is they are fair. Everyone has a chance to tap into skills they perhaps don’t know they have. Promotion and selection are seen as fair processes too.
  2. Unearth latent potential: They are an excellent way to uncover ‘latent potential’ and check that people who haven’t had the same access to educational/learning options are not dismissed as incapable.
  3. Retain the best: Above all they help to answer a fundamental question. Why would you want to lose people with experience and commitment when you can give them opportunity and save the cost of hiring? In the same way, why not make it easy for people to leave the organisation because it’s clear there is no room to grow and nowhere to go.

Change is inevitable. Knowing you have the people capable of adopting new roles, learning new skills and facing new challenges is vital for navigating the change and turning it to your advantage.

However, you can’t test the future, you don’t know exactly what it will bring, which is why assessments are a perfect vehicle for benchmarking capabilities and values. And it’s why I firmly believe it should be the go-to technique for HR and recruitment teams seeking to appoint candidates with the knowledge, attitude and skills.