WHAT SAY YOU? Should My Company Use Assessment Centers for Leadership Assessment?__________________________________

Dear E.A.S.I-Consult®:

I represent a midsized company looking for a better way to assess our future leaders. I’ve heard that Assessment Centers are a “best-in-practice” approach but are also costly. We are assessing our options. What’s your opinion?

Thank you,

Assessing Our Options – Sr. HR Leader


Dear Assessing Our Options,

You’re in good company when considering using Assessment Centers (ACs) for leadership assessment. In my opinion, ACs are, by far, the most  complete and accurate procedures for assessing readiness for a new leadership role or promotion to a higher leadership role. We at E.A.S.I-Consult, have been designing and administering ACs for Fortune 500 Companies for over 20-plus years in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Before commenting, let me briefly define an AC for readers who are not familiar with them. The International Congress on Assessment Centers describes an AC by several attributes. These include using multiple assessment methods (e.g., two or more job-related role plays, group discussions, or business simulations) and multiple assessors to ensure the accuracy of ratings. Sometimes, these components are combined with a structured interview and psychological tests.

You are correct. ACs are “pricey.” As with everything in life, “you get what you pay for.” You can easily spend $100,000 to design a good, job-related/validated AC. Then you will need to train assessors if you conduct this internally. You can also hire professionals to act as your assessors. These are typically industrial-organizational psychologists, training and development professionals, or HR professionals.

To your question, “When is it time to use ACs?” It depends on the importance of the position, the volume of candidates you anticipate over several years, the resources you have, and the company’s willingness to do them right.

  • Is the job important enough, and is the volume of candidates large enough to warrant the development cost? …. Here’s your ROI question.
  • Can you follow professional guidelines (e.g., federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures)? …. Here’s your legal hurdle.
  • Do you have support from senior management and your legal department? …. Here’s your reality check.

Being a midsized company with a tight budget, I recommend a “hybrid” approach. Use what is often referred to as individual assessments. Have a psychologist administer job-relevant psychological tests (Cognitive Abilities and Personality), interview your candidate, and add one or two job-related role plays between the candidate and the psychologist. We have had consistent success with this approach as well.

Best of Luck,

E.A.S.I-Consult, LLC



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