“Assessment centres generate rich information in terms of both quality and quantity about all participants.” (Iles, P. 1992)
Assessment centres are growingly being used for the selection of staff and for identifying development needs. The term refers to a process or methodology of assessment usually pre-determined criteria relating to the job, with an emphasis on situational activities. (Thornton and Byham 1982).
Firms utilise assessment centres to identify long term potential. They are designed to identify potential empliyees who will benefit from subsequent development, who can be fast tracked into there career path as a result of job assignment allocated to them, development opportunities and mentoring. (Iles P. 1992). An example reiterating this is AT & T where first line female managers were assessed to see their potential, after receiving further development to reach middle management. (Ritchie & Moses 1983)
Assessment centres are highly effective for diagnostic and developmental purposes. This is due to facilitation of the personal development of participants (Iles p 1992). According to Boehm who elaborates on Iles point regarding diagnostic programmes claims the ability to construct a profile of the participant through assessment centres enable the firm to identify both strengths and development needs of the candidate which can be used to “form useful, specific personalised development plans and actions for all participants.” Assessment centres used fundamentally for this are known as development centres. (Boehm 1985). E.g. IBM workshop. (Hart and Thompson.)
Furthermore assessment centres are advantageous as they provide feedback from assessors which can be “helpful, motivating and useful for self-development.” Assessment centres are also beneficial for the assessors too. Owing to the fact that assessors are found to be better in terms of evaluation, acquiring and communicating information about people. Thus assessment centres enhance assessors listening skills, report writing and improve presentations. (Iles P 1992). This is useful as it illustrates how skills acquired in assessment centres are transferable. (Lorenzo 1984.)
Moreover this demonstrates how assessment centres are useful in terms of enabling managers to acquire a common language, which is useful as it enables them to identify key skills which the organisation views as essential for future and current operations. An example include Cadbury Schweppes who ran assessment centres where they were effective in introducing a language of managerial competence which was implemented into development activities and performance appraisals. Therefore this is effective in illustrating assessment centres are a key influence for stronger cultural change within an organisation.
In summary assessment centres have been criticised for there lack of individual benefit, impact on participant wellbeing and for being bias. (Iles