by Nikolina Jankovic, Solutions Delivery Unit Team Lead ManpowerGroup Belgrade
Nowadays, corporations recognize multiple benefits of using an assessment centre – they become acquainted with their employees in a better way and work on their development, or compare the qualities of new candidates so as to make the best employment decision.
There are several rules to follow when it comes to the management of assessment centres so that they can produce their full effect. Skilled staff that would be fully trained in the implementation of an assessment centre is not always common in organizations of all sizes, and due to that, we recognized the need for a more detailed presentation of the centre’s benefits.
ManpowerGroup consultants are highly experienced in supporting organizations within their assessment centre, therefore, we would like to convey the significance and the best practice to help the readers understand a candidate-oriented approach during the assessment.
What assessment centres do?
Assessment centres are comprehensive and structured evaluation processes aimed at assessing competencies, abilities and personalities. As a result of the abovementioned, a precise profile of a candidate is obtained, based on behavioral indicators. In order to conduct the assessment, we usually include several tools, and the preparation itself largely depends on the assessment’s aim. The assessment centre purpose can be the selection process aimed at determining the candidate who best meets the position requirements. In addition, it is used for the internal selection process in which current employees and their capacity for filling a more responsible position are evaluated, it also regularly used for the assessment of managers. An increasing number of companies applies assessment centres to the evaluation of employees with the purpose of assessing their potential and determining the developmental needs of employees so as to create development and succession plans. In this case, the process is even more beneficial for the company since employees feel the company takes care of them, invests in their development, which significantly increases motivation. When it comes to the target groups, assessment centres are applicable to all position levels starting with the assessment of directors, the assessment of soft skills for all positions, as well as the assessment of low-skilled staff in selection processes.
The main steps towards a successful assessment
At Manpower we are used to say: “when we know why, we will know how”.
After it has been defined the assessment aim, we can start with the preparation. The preparation is extremely important for all participants, from both the evaluator’s and the candidate’s points of view, since it directly affects the success of assessment. Prior to the selection of tools that will be used, a complete understanding of key competencies of an ideal candidate is necessary, and we can achieve the abovementioned based on communication with a direct superior of the employee or based on job analysis. We recommend choosing 4 to 6 most relevant competencies that will be assessed. The profile of an ideal candidate serves as a starting point in the design of an assessment centre structure, while the combination of instruments (battery of instruments) proves to be the best solution in practice.
A battery can contain psychometric capabilities and personality tests, individual and group exercises, as well as competence based interview.
An interview is an indispensable part that provides us with the knowledge of not only competencies but also attitudes, values, motivation and overall condition of candidates, and most information of interest is provided using questions about their previous behaviour.
Tests provide information about the way candidates assess themselves (self-assessment) and it is advisable to use them along with an additional exercise.
Individual exercises are precious for all position levels since they provide an insight into the behaviour of a candidate in a specific situation, therefore, we can choose a role-play, a case study, a presentation or in-basket exercises. Role-play is very important for the assessment of managerial and leadership skills, sales skills, and it is recommended for the positions that involve working with people. In-basket, case study and presentations enable the assessment of managers and their strategical thinking, analytical and time management skills in time- limited period.
On the other hand, group exercises are a great way to assess candidate’s behaviour in a team, that is, how their competencies are demonstrated in a specific environment. ManpowerGroup employees design the exercises in accordance with a target group and in cooperation with a client, so as to create the atmosphere of a familiar environment.
Not to overlook any aspects, evaluators often overburden the process with a large number of instruments, but such practice proves to have a negative effect and make very little contribution. Negative consequences are exhaustion and decrease in the motivation of candidates due to lengthy assessment centres. For this reason, it is important to cover all relevant aspects but not exaggerate in the process of the assessment day creation.
The value of the experience
ManpowerGroup devotes a great amount of attention to candidates’ experience throughout the assessment process. Providing the conditions in which candidates’ will be highly motivated for participation in the assessment has a large importance since correct results can be obtained only in that way. Imagine a completely unprepared candidate thrown into a really stressful assessment situation, and additional anxiety occurs when they are being assessed by a current employer which means the assessment will affect the employment status. The candidate will develop a negative perception of the evaluator, as well as the company they are working for, they will fail to show their full potential and will probably remain withdrawn and uncooperative. To forestall this, ManpowerGroup believes it is our responsibility to prepare the candidates for what they can expect on the assessment day. We advise companies to always be transparent and clearly convey the purpose of the assessment centre when it comes to internal employees, because it is only when employees feel safe that they can focus on the performance and showcase their skills in the best light.
On the other hand, the proper preparation, relevant experience and skills of evaluators in the assessment process are curtail. Regardless of their experience, if they are not familiar with the assessment aim, evaluators will not succeed in completing their task. Being a responsible process, the assessment should be objective to the greatest extent, and for that reason, companies frequently hire external associates, especially when assessing internal employees to avoid the interference with the personal impression of a colleague. There are other dangerous aspects of the assessment, and these are evaluators’ mistakes made due to the influence of subjective assumptions about the candidate, the lack of information, the identification with the candidate and others. In this view, it is advisable that minimum two experienced evaluators attend the assessment centre to check their compliance in the results.
What do we do with the assessment results?
In order to maximize the effect and benefits for employees , ManpowerGroup always advises providing feedback to employees that participated. Our experience has shown that providing feedback to employees reinforces and improves the key competencies that are currently underdeveloped. Test-retest study has shown that the abovementioned competencies improve when discussed in feedback situation, this improvement is even greater when the company invests in their development. On the other hand, if the feedback regarding the competency is not provided, there is a decrease in performance on the competence. Feedback is vastly important for the development of employees when provided in a safe environment and following a specific structure. Based on the assessment results, we can create an employee development plan, and also make a decision about candidate fit with the required competency profile, which is the last step in completing the assessment process.
Nikolina Janković, Solutions Delivery Unit Team Lead
Nikolina engaged her professional career in ManpowerGroup company in November 2015. as Assessment Center Psychologist on mass recruitment projects, responsible for preselection, psychological assessment, conducting assessment centers, results administration and reporting. Due to her ambition and dedication on several projects in October 2017. she was promoted to position of Solutions Delivery Unit Team Lead, where she is responsible for a team of six Consultants, leading projects of mass recruitment and assessments. Also, she is the key person for Career Harmony Roma (assessment platform and ATS) for providing training to team members.
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