Products and Services:
Assessment Centers for Municipal Positions
An assessment center is a testing process used to determine generic management skills and abilities. Assessment centers have been proven most successful in predicting whether a candidate will succeed in the new management position.
The assessment process begins with a job analysis to determine the requirements of the job. The analysis defines the critical skills required by the job itself. Then, exercises are developed that will allow a candidate to display the skills they possess, or do not possess, as measured against the requirements of the specific job being examined.
Job-related knowledge, skills and abilities are observed and evaluated by trained observers, called assessors, who have extensive experience in the job discipline involved and no prior prejudicial knowledge of the candidates. Candidates are observed through a series of exercises that are designed to resemble actual job situations. They are then assessed (scored) following the Guidelines and Ethical Consideration for Assessment Center Operations issued in 2004 by the eighteenth International Congress on Assessment Center Methods.
Assessment centers are frequently, but not always, used in conjunction with other testing techniques such as written examinations.
What are the Advantages of an Assessment Center?
- They are the best predictor of success in a position of all testing methodologies.
- They are viewed as being fairer, non-discriminatory and more appropriate than other traditional selection methods.
- They have a high degree of credibility with job candidates.
- Internal departmental bias and personality issues are totally eliminated.
- All candidates can benefit by individual feedback offered after each assessment.
- Assessment Centers replace one-on-one interviews and/or seniority systems long considered the least valid and least reliable methods of promotion.
What Knowledge, Skills and Abilities are Measured with an Assessment Center?
The most common use of assessment centers is to fill managerial positions. They are, therefore, designed to measure the knowledge, skills and abilities critical to successful performance in such jobs. These include over 20 behavioral attributes such as: oral and written communication, problem solving, decision-making, judgment, planning, etc.
Who are the Assessors?
The assessors are individuals with extensive experience and/or familiarity with the job being filled and who have been trained to objectively observe and evaluate candidate behavior. Three individual assessors make independent observations on each candidate’s behavior as the candidate performs each exercise. A compilation of the individual observations leads to a unanimous consensus rating on each candidate.
What are Typical Exercises?
- Interview Exercise: Candidates are asked to make a brief presentation describing themselves, their accomplishments and their goals. Each candidate is then asked the same job-related questions in a structured interview setting.
- Oral Presentation Exercise: Candidates are given a particular subject in advance and asked to prepare and deliver an oral presentation to a group such as the city council, concerned citizens, etc.
- In-Basket Exercise: Candidates are given a number of written situations, which might typically be found in the In-Basket of the job being filled. After an appropriate preparation time, candidates are asked to explain to the assessors how they would handle each item and the rationale for doing it that way.
- Role-Play Scenario Exercise: Candidates are asked to role-play a situation from the job being sought or to interface with a citizen, subordinate, city council person, etc. The scenarios are job-related.
- Written Exercise: Candidates are asked to prepare, in their own handwriting, a written report, memorandum, etc. on a job related topic without prior notice of the topic.
Assessment Center Cost?
An assessment center's cost varies depending on the number of candidates being assessed. Initial cost is usually higher than other selection techniques, but the results are far more accurate, thus saving potentially higher costs associated with filling the position with someone not sufficiently competent to handle it.
What is Involved in Conducting an Assessment Center?
Although it varies, an assessment center generally involves the following process:
- A job analysis of the position is developed from the position’s Job Description to determine the critical knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for successful performance of the specific job.
- The candidates to be assessed are determined by department policy, which may or may not include a written examination.
- Exercises are developed, independent assessors selected and a date set for an orientation and the assessment center.
- Assessors are trained in assessment center methods.
- An orientation for all candidates is scheduled seven to ten days preceding the assessment center to familiarize candidates with the process.
- The assessment center is conducted following established international guidelines.
- A composite score is determined for each candidate from individual assessor ratings on each exercise. Composite scores and final rankings are reported to the city as required, usually within two days.
- Each candidate is offered an opportunity for counseling regarding their performance with constructive suggestions concerning self-improvement.