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What Are Assessment Centres & Why Should Your Business Use Them?

In this competitive working environment, it is important that organizations have the very best talent in place who have the necessary skills for current work situations, but who also are able to adapt to any future challenges they may face. One key problem most organizations face is attracting and retaining the talent that they require. You would think it would be easy to get the right person for most jobs. However, if you talk to most organizations they will tell you it is one of their greatest challenges.

The Need for Assessment Centres

Many organizations find that the traditional interview route no longer has the desired reliability that is required. Most companies will agree that they have hired people that are either not up to the role or, in some, cases are far overqualified. In both cases, the employee tends to leave the organization and the organization must start the hiring process again. This is costly in both time and money. Getting recruitment right helps ensure the person who is recruited settles into the role quickly and stays in the job longer. This is the best possible result for all concerned.

Organizations can spend a lot of money on job advertising and recruitment agencies in an effort to reach the best available candidates, none of which is cheap. Regular recruitment due to a high turnover of employees is an expensive and harmful practice. After a while, this can also risk damaging the organization's brand, as multiple failed recruits returning to the job marketplace is not a good advert for your company.

New employees will spend time going through the onboarding process and getting to know the role. This can take up the time of many people across a company. If this process is repeated a number of times because employees are not a good fit, the organization will face a level of demotivation and lack of commitment to new hires from existing staff. This has a knock-on effect of making new employees feel less welcome, and more likely to leave. The costs and impacts are not just restricted to the recruitment process but include the wider organization.

What Are Assessment Centres?

To overcome the lack of reliability of the interview alone, forward-looking organizations have turned to Assessment Centres as a way to improve the recruitment process. An Assessment Centre is a series of relevant exercises that allow the candidates to display their talent by recreating typical work situations. This may involve exercises that involve a mock meeting, presentation or report. Such an approach will take longer than an interview, but it will give more relevant information as you can observe the person “in action” rather merely hear from them how good they are at their work.

Before the recruitment begins the organizations review the skills, knowledge and behaviours that are relevant to the role they are recruiting to fill. They will identify which of these areas are crucial to the delivery of the role. From that point, they will develop suitable exercises to reflect the areas they wish to test. These exercises will usually have an element that will relate to the working environment so that they can see who has researched the company and the market.

An assessment event can last from 1-5 days depending on the role. Most, however, are 1-2 days in duration. The candidates will complete a number of tasks which are time-limited. They may also have an interview as part of the process and in some instances, personality profiles and aptitude tests may also be employed. By the end of the event, the observers from the company will have a clear view of the candidate and the skills, knowledge and behaviours they can bring to the organization.

Bear in mind, there are never 'perfect' candidates, so an organization will have identified the development needs of the recruited individual. That person will have a specific induction programme that matches their needs to fit into the organization and the role. This assists the person to become integrated into the organization more rapidly but, more importantly, they will identify the relevance of the induction programme as a development tool rather than a bland induction event everyone in the organization will attend.


The use of assessment centres will enhance the recruitment process. It may take longer, but it will offer better results. It will ensure a company has better candidates for the role and produce a personalized induction programme.

It will make the new candidate feel more special as they will have proved themselves and be armed with a personal development programme that reflects what they need to do in order to contribute to the organization. It also demonstrates that an organization has a thorough support system for new hires. It is a win/win situation for all concerned.

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