Establishing a Management Assessment Center: Best Practices

Assessment centers are an evaluation to see if an employee can work in a managerial capacity. You need to take time to go through the necessary steps to precisely evaluate an employee’s potential for success in this role. Make sure that the candidate knows about the process they’re participating in, so they know the validity and can properly demonstrate their skills during the exercise. 

Learn more about assessment centers, best practices for establishing an assessment center, actions that you need to take to create one and frequently asked questions about them. 


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An Introduction to assessment centers

The assessment center approach is used by employers to gather information about candidates’ skills and competencies, and if they make them eligible for a leadership role within their company. A candidate must perform multiple exercises that replicate the job to grasp if they’re qualified to carry out duties daily. 

Some of the benefits of an assessment center approach include: 


    • Tracking applicants’ behavior: Assessment centers review the behaviors of an applicant when going through all stages of the evaluation. Their behaviors give you and the rest of the observers a great idea about the strategy they take to navigate a task from start to finish. For example, a candidate for a project manager position may be calm when constructing a process that helps employees with their work. 


    • Providing an objective analysis: While the assessment center looks at the employees’ present behavior, it goes beyond the applicant answering questions in an interview setting. In other words, all observers can have a visual representation of who a qualified applicant is while rendering an in-depth analysis of how they can be a vital asset to the company. 


    • Measuring a larger range of skills: Assessment centers can display the knowledge that an applicant possesses going into the evaluation. An interview or a written test can give you a glimpse of behaviors from an applicant, but the assessment center can make you realize that an applicant may have a hidden skill set. For instance, an applicant may be good with numbers and they can learn new computer codes quickly. The assessment center can find these types of skills if they intend on locating hidden talents. 


  • Giving training experiences for the employer and the applicant: There should be a reflection period after the conclusion of the assessment period, so you and the observers can identify what you learned about the applicants and what you can do better for next time. You can tailor the tests to discover new skills from future applicants or introduce a new way of testing an applicant to get a full overview of their strengths. 

Read more: How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation


Best practices for establishing a center

Take a look at the best practices for establishing an assessment center: 


  • Include all decision-makers
  • Outline the purpose and the process 
  • Analyze the costs
  • Train all evaluators

Include all decision-makers

If you’re looking to hire an applicant, make sure to speak to all employees involved in the recruitment process. In this case, you’ll be providing a forum for managers to talk about how they want to review each candidate, which leads to a diversity of ideas around the practical way to proceed with the assessment center. 


Outline the purpose and the process 

Some managers may want each assessment center targeted toward their experience on their resume while others want to check to see if they have a particular skill set or behavior that qualifies them for the position. The more involvement you have, the larger the chance you’ll have to build a consensus around why you’re moving forward with the assessment center and the standardized format each applicant must abide by.


Analyze the costs

Check to see if the assessment center proposed by department managers is within budget. Your budget details the number of resources you’ll have to produce an effective evaluation process. Usually, the human resources or operations department can facilitate the implementation of assessment centers. 


Train all evaluators

Once there is an agreement between you and the department managers, you can begin to plan the logistics of the assessment center. You must train employees through the steps they need to take to ensure that there is an objective assessment of all candidates. 


Actions to take to create an assessment center

Review the steps you need to take to create an assessment center: 


    • Create exercises and tests: Tests and exercises must be aligned to the purpose and the process agreed to by you and department managers. Consider building tests that can analyze psychological skills, the accuracy of the experience on an applicant’s resume and the ability to be flexible in a given circumstance. 


    • Produce a timeline that everyone can follow: The timeline should be long enough for the applicant to highlight attributes that make them qualified for the position while allowing for observers to give direction to the applicant on how to complete each exercise. 


  • Establish a feedback procedure: You should give feedback to all applicants in the hiring process. You can enhance the level of transparency and hold onto relationships with applicants who may be interested in applying for another position within the organization. This type of process can upgrade the amount of credibility that your company holds within its industry. 


Assessment center FAQs

Check out frequently asked questions about assessment centers: 


What is the main purpose of assessment centers? 

Assessment centers can be considered a large-scale applicant evaluation. It can improve the interviewing process by seeing how an applicant behaves and if the skills they apply match the open position. It allows the applicants to know the candidates and find out what to expect when working in this position. 


What can do you to create a well-organized assessment center? 

A well-organized assessment center should have the following: a list of decision-makers, the outlined purpose, a cost measurement, exercises and a timeline. You should give feedback to all applicants to explain the reasoning behind the management team’s decision.


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