Competence and varying characteristics

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What is an Assessment Center?


An assessment center can be defined as a group process that involves job related works/ trainings etc. that are done under observation so as to Improve the skills, assess the level of competence and varying characteristics of an employee in an organization. This process is carried out with the help of trained assessor who evaluates each participant with that of the predetermined format. Different types of assessments such as interviews, group discussions, problem solving are techniques, psychometric tests, role playing tasks, individual job tasks and so on used. These types of centers are specially used in hr practices such as training and development, promotions, recruitment. Therefore the main aim of this process is to provide organizations which ensures no prejudice, consistent and fair effective assessment processes

An assessment center uses a variety of tools to objectively assess if a person can do the job for which he or she is to be hired. Assessment centers adhere to specific guidelines to ensure ethical standards are maintained and to ensure that the data collected pertaining to participants is objective and reliable.

History of Assessment Centers

Today, assessment centers are used in governmental, educational, industrial, military and other organizational and business settings to select individuals for management, supervisory, technical or sales positions. Testing was first started by the early psychometric testing movement in the 1920's and 1930's. From there, testing as a tool for human resource purposes was used particularly by the military in the USA and the UK when staffing for the First and Second World Wars. In the 1920's to 1940's the German military began using testing as a tool to assist in the selection of officers. After 1945, the British Civil Service started using testing for non-military selection and other human resource purposes. The 1950's saw the birth of the management movement which started to focus on characteristics of successful managers, and the development thereof. In 1958 the Michigan Bell Personnel Assessment Program was established which started to use testing from a broader personnel perspective. The 1960 and 1970s saw an explosion in the establishment of assessment centers as private companies' embraced assessment in relation to the human resource function. In the UAE today assessment centers are part of several large organizations such as Emirates Airline and Al Futtaim Enterprises.

Non-Assessment Center Activities

Non-assessment centre activities include

  • the use of panel interviews or sequential interviews as the sole testing requirement;
  • assessment techniques that do not require an assessee to demonstrate visible behavioral responses;
  • reliance on a single assessment technique such as solely doing a simulation activity;
  • testing using only pen-and-paper measures;
  • no pooling of assessment data from several assessors;
  • single assessor evaluations;
  • running a facility labeled as an assessment if it do assessment based on the points listed above.

Assessment Center Methodology

Assessment center methodology depends on the purpose for which the assessment centre has been set up. Typical purposes of assessment centers include staff selection, diagnosis of staffing issues, human resource development and job analysis. A typical assessment center would be characterized by:

  • participants engaging in a number of activities which simulate on-the-job activities;
  • trained assessors observing and documenting the observed behavior and performance of the assesses
  • each assessee is seen by each assessor at least once;
  • individual reports are compiled by each assessor for each assessee;
  • a sharing or consensus discussion being held to discuss all the data gathered by the assessors with the center administrator recording ratings and decisions;
  • each assessee receiving objective performance feedback by an assessor or the facility administrator.

Employee Assessment

Employees being assessed in an assessment center will be notified in advance of the assessment taking place, and they can expect to participate in a variety of activities that will be observed and documented by several qualified assessors. Employees can expect to engage in interviews, role-play activities, job-simulated tasks, group discussions, psychometric tests, amongst other activities which are chosen with the purpose of determining an employees suitability for performing a specific job, or for being selected for promotion. Once the data gathering phase is completed, employees can then expect to meet individually with the assessors and the assessment center director to receive objective feedback on the assessment.


  1. Guidelines and Ethical Considerations for Assessment Center Operations. Task Force onAssessment Center Guidelines; endorsed by the 17th International Congress on the Assessment Center Method, May 1989.
  3. BNET Dictionary:
  4. Assessment Centers