Assessment Center and Simulations Tools

Dr. Bill Byham likes to point out that an “assessment center is a process, not a place.” And a lot of selection processes may look as though they’re based on an assessment-center approach but they’re not.

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The problem of when an assessment center is an assessment center was addressed in a year-long effort by an all-star task force of 17 assessment-center specialists, chaired by AT&T’s Dr. Joel Moses. Their initial recommendations were published as “Standards and Ethical Considerations for Assessment Center Operations” and presented to the Seventh International Assessment Center Congress held last June in New Or-leans.

The Standards define an assessment as “…a standardized evaluation of behavior based on multiple inputs. Multiple trained observers and techniques are used. Judgments about behavior are made, in part, from specially developed assessment simulations.

These judgments are pooled by the assessors at an evaluation meeting during which assessment data are reported and discussed, and the assessors agree on the evaluation of the dimensions and any overall evaluation that is made.”

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The Standards go on to specify, clearly and unequivocally, what does and does not constitute a legitimate assessment center. The following elements are necessary for a process center to be considered an assessment center.

1. Multiple assessment techniques must be used. At least one of these techniques must be a simulation. A simulation is an exercise or technique designed to elicit behaviors related to dimensions of performance on the job and requiring participants to respond behaviorally to situational stimuli. The stimuli present in a simulation parallel or resemble stimuli in the work situation. Examples of simulations include group exercises, in-basket exercises, interview simulations, fact-finding exercises and so on.

2. Multiple assessors must be used. These assessors must receive thorough training prior to participating in a center.

3. Judgments resulting in an outcome (for example, recommendation for promotion, specific training or development) must be based on pooled information from assessors and techniques.

4. An overall evaluation of behavior must be made by the assessors at a separate time from observation of behavior during the exercises.

5. Simulation exercises are used. These exercises are developed to tap a variety of predetermined behaviors and have been pretested prior to use to ensure that the techniques provide reliable, objective and relevant be¬havioral information for the organization in question. The simulations must be job related.

6. The dimensions, attributes, characteristics, qualities, skills, abilities or knowledge evaluated by the assessment center are determined by an analysis of relevant job behaviors.

7. The technique’s used in the assessment center are designed to provide information that is used in evaluating the dimensions, attributes or qualities previously determined.

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The following kinds of activities do not constitute an assessment center:

1. Panel interviews or a series of sequential interviews as the sole technique.

2. Reliance on a specific technique (regardless of whether it’s simulation or not) as the sole basis for evaluation.

3. Using only a test battery com¬posed of a number of pencil-and-paper measures, regardless of whether the judgments are made by a statistical or judgmental pooling of scores.

4. Single assessor assessment (of¬ten referred to as individual assessment), a measurement by one individual using a variety of techniques such as pencil-and-paper tests, inter¬views, personality measures or simulations.

5. The use of several simulations with more than one assessor where there is no pooling of data. That is, each assessor prepares a report on performance in an exercise, and the individual reports (unintegrated) are used as the final product of the center.

6. A physical location labeled an “assessment center” that does not conform to previously noted requirements.

The Standards go on to specify appropriate organizational policy to¬ward assessment centers, assessor training and participant rights. They also specify the validation issues that must be addressed in the establishment of a legitimate assessment center. Concerned that your assessment center is an assessment center?

Source : TRAINING Magazine