group selection methods and assessment centres

Assessment centres use direct observation and not evidence of past experience to determine candidate potential.

An assessment centre is a process, not a place, combining a number of tools and assessments to simulate important elements of the job. It is recognised as one of the best ways to select staff and assess their potential.

Candidates, whether internal or external, go through a programme of tests and exercises such as role-plays, business games and group tasks. The structured sets of activities, usually lasting one or two days, are set up by trained and briefed assessors. Candidates may also be set simulated individual job-related tests, such as a timed ‘in-tray’ exercise, where they are asked to prioritise and deal with a selection of work-related problems. Marking is structured and coordinated by all the assessors to remove any individual assessor bias.

Tests will generally be interspersed with interviews. They often consist of: 
testing – general and specific aptitude tests 
group interviews – both task and simulation exercises 
panel interviews.

The drawback of assessment centres is they require significant investment to establish and administer, so are often best used to recruit for multiple or higher level roles, where the cost of not securing the best candidate is high.

group tests

Organisations who want to see how potential candidates will act or react in the workplace often use group tests, where candidates are observed and scored throughout the process to reveal aspects of candidates’ personalities that would not emerge under one-to-one assessment, including how they:

relate to one another 
influence others
persuade others
express themselves verbally to others
handle their thought processes under pressure
apply themselves to a problem
solve problems
define the role they play in group situations.

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