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What is an Assessment Center?

The search for talent for the company is a highly complex process. So much so that we can find that, after a long selection process, the chosen candidate turns out not to be the most suitable for the position. The assessment center plays an important role in all of this.

You may have all the skills and abilities the company was looking for, as well as the experience and training needed to take on certain tasks. However, perhaps his personality does not quite fit in with the organization.

In the recruitment process we can objectively measure the knowledge of candidates. For example, with a test that measures your English at a conversational level. But it is more complicated to measure another series of issues that are more subjective. Are we dealing with a person with leadership skills? Do you have empathy? Is it proactive? To obtain data on this type of competence we can use the assessment center.

Table of Contents

The assessment center methodology

Let's imagine that we are in the middle of a selection process to find a team leader for a logistics company. We have five candidates who have shown they have the hard skills (hard skills) necessary for the position: 

  • More than 5 years of experience working in the sector.
  • They have been in charge of teams made up of more than three people.
  • They handle state-of-the-art software.
  • They speak several languages.

A priori, any of them could fit the profile sought. Nevertheless, in a candidate we look for much more than a set of knowledge. Because we need it to fit into the company and into the way of working in this. If this does not happen, we could find that, after a few months, the corporation has to do without its new worker, or that it is this one who decides to break the contract because they do not feel comfortable in their position.

To reduce the risk of a unwanted turnover within staff, in the selection process we will observe and attempt to analyze the behavior of candidates. That is precisely what the assessment center methodology consists of.

It is quite complex, because it involves applying methods governed by objective criteria to measure issues that are merely subjective. In order to achieve this, what is done is present candidates with a series of situations to assess how they react to them.

In the example of the team leader in the logistics company, we could ask the candidates what they would do if they detected that one of their subordinates was stealing material. And what would they do if the one who takes products is not a subordinate, but one of their superiors. Thus we can measure factors such as responsibility or agility in the decision-making process. 

Benefits of this system

  • It goes beyond a person's professional capabilities, it measures subjective work-related behaviors and skills.
  • It allows to know the candidate in greater depth than traditional methods such as the job interview.
  • It helps the formation of diverse teams, valuing different qualities.
  • It is a way for the the coach's prejudices do not come into play. It provides the opportunity to make a more objective choice, giving equal treatment to all candidates, since they will all go through the same tests.

Knowing the objective is fundamental in the assessment center 

Designing an evaluation process of this type that is successful requires, first of all, making a good determination of the objective or objectives pursued with the tests that are going to be carried out. What qualities or skills are we looking for in the candidate?

The objectives will vary from one selection process to another, because we do not look for the same thing in all possible new members of the company. However, there are a series of skills that can be very useful in all types of jobs, and that recruiters take into account: 

  • Leadership. The ability to coordinate and direct other people, positively influencing them.
  • decision-making capacity. It implies having a high capacity for information analysis and a good dose of self-confidence.
  • Organizational capacity. It is essential in any job where you have to face different tasks and responsibilities.
  • Motivation. Have a real interest in the job and feel excited about the challenges and efforts involved.
  • critical capacity. Today companies look for employees capable of giving their opinion, even when it is not positive. Issuing criticism that is constructive and adds value.
  • Creativity. It is very important in corporations that work in disruptive sectors, but also in companies in more classic sectors, as it can help find innovative solutions.
  • communication capacity. Although the position held is not one of responsibility, good communication skills of all employees help improve the work environment and avoid misunderstandings.

Is this procedure used for all positions in an organization?

As we said before, measuring subjective skills and abilities is not easy. For this reason, companies usually use the assessment center methodology only for positions of more responsibility

Despite the above, there are individual tests and group dynamics that can be applied without further complication to candidates interested in occupying positions that do not imply responsibility in the company. In fact, in many cases it is advisable to do so. Because this system allows knowing if the person will integrate well into the organization. In addition, it is a good way to learn more about the capabilities of the new employees, data that can be used for future promotion within the company.

Evidence found in this selection methodology

We will see below that there are many tests that can be performed, what they all have in common is that they usually put the candidate in a situation that is uncomfortable or stressful. By "forcing" him to leave his comfort zone, he behaves in a much more natural way and lets out those skills and competencies that may have remained hidden in earlier phases of the selection process, such as during the personal interview.

It is important to note that in this type of test There are not correct or incorrect answers. What the recruiter does is an observation work to determine what qualities are most present in a person. 

On the other hand, the proposed exercises do not necessarily have to be related to the activity of the company.

Group dynamics

The candidates are gathered in one place and they are presented with a practical case that they must solve by working together

Although the participants are collaborating with each other, the observer will pay attention to what each of them is doing. With an exercise of this type we can obtain information about the leadership skills, the ability to work in a team, the ability to argue, the ability to analyze information, etc.


The candidate is presented with a topic and given some time to prepare his presentation on that topic. This activity serves to measure issues such as ability to speak in public, the ability to synthesize, communication skills or time management.


In this curious test, candidates must face an email inbox full of emails and must manage them as efficiently as possible. While they carry out this task they often suffer interruptions such as phone calls or questions from the recruiter.

This test is used to measure skills such as organizational skills, time management, information analysis skills and how the subject approaches the decision-making process.

psychotechnical tests

These are evaluations that measure skills such as numerical calculation, communication skills or abstraction skills. The candidate must solve the questions posed within the time that has been given for it, so the psychotechnical tests they also help measure the ability to manage work time and the ability to set priorities.

An example of this type of evidence is Hirint, this allows you to evaluate the skills of your candidates through a psychometric assessment and after that generates a ranking of adjustment to the position, which tells you which candidate best suits the vacant position.

An assessment center is much more than a place

Although the name invites us to think that we are talking about a physical and specific place, we have seen that, in reality, an assessment center is not a place in itself, but a set of tests that make up a personnel selection method.

Exercises aimed at measuring the personal skills and abilities of candidates that would be very difficult to bring out with traditional selection methods. Ultimately, what we seek is to make a situational assessment. Taking candidates out of their comfort zone to allow their skills to flourish.

In front of them stands the recruiter. An observer who must be clear about the qualities desired in the candidates, and be able to detect them while the interested parties carry out the proposed tests. Because, as we said before, except in psychometric tests, there are usually no right and wrong answers.

A selection process using the assessment center is more complex, but it also offers greater guarantees that successful candidates will integrate seamlessly into the organization, both on a professional level and on a personal level. To obtain the best possible results, it is always advisable to use several of the tests that we have seen. The more that are done, the more the accuracy of the selection process increases.

Learn more about how psychometric assessments can improve your selection processes. Book a meeting with us HERE!

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