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The advantages and limitations of the Assessment Center



Virginie Graziani

Talent Management & Synergologist

15 July 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Studies show us that in a team of seven employees who meet or exceed performance targets, only one of them is “high potential”. Indeed, by definition potential is not seen since it is the ability of a person to succeed in a function whose responsibilities exceed those he currently has. Predictive value is therefore essential in a Talent Management approach.

The advantages of the Assessment Center

Among the well-known and recognized assets of the approach, a first summary draws our attention to the following points :

  • Most important predictive value,
  • Scientifically recognized reliability,
  • Halves the risk of making mistakes,
  • Neutrality and objectivity when carried out by an HR consultant,
  • Help to better decisions in terms of Talent Management,
  • Excellent acceptability of the assessed individual who appreciates the feedback.

1. Scientific reliability and predictive value

The essential asset of the Assessment Center lies in its degree of predictability, which makes it possible to double the chances of success in selecting and developing the skills of your (future) employees.


Established in business in 1948, the Assessment Center represents a proven method in the professional world. The approach was developed by the Director of Human Resources Douglas W. Bray and his sidekick Robert K. Greenleaf within the company AT&T.


For 25 years, Douglas W. Bray has conducted research on the career development of young company managers. The results of the study proved that the Assessment Center can predict the success of each employee in the performance of their duties.



2. An individual and comprehensive approach


The only method that allows softskills to be evaluated and their potential to be assessed, the approach is concrete, factual and objective. Asking a candidate or an employee to take action and observe how they go about completing a project allows you to remain in factual observation.


The participant appreciates the operational and concrete aspect of the exercises. Indeed, it quickly and clearly realizes the link between the exercises and the targeted function. This is not always the case with the traditional personality inventories and other psychotechnical tests that can complement the process.


The Assessment Center or Development Center provides qualitative feedback to the different parties, a photo of the individual’s skills and attitudes through an individual diagnosis. Unlike a “classic” interview which is based on quantitative and qualitative elements determined according to the performance objectives of the company.

3. A neutral and objective assessment

The Assessment Center materializes an objective assessment since it is based on measurable behaviors reported on a grid of factual behaviors via a rigorous procedure.


The diagnosis made at the end of the exercise provides a reliable picture of the candidate’s skills and potential. At the end of the session, he has full feedback on his strengths and areas for vigilance.


The approach centered on a single individual avoids the pressure linked to competition between candidates which eliminates the possibility of discovering each person’s potential.



The limits of the Assessment Center

In the pitfalls to avoid or the fundamentals to respect, a few essential points hold our attention:

  • The realization of the Assessment Center by non-professionals,
  • The absence of a debriefing with the assessed individual, his manager and his HR,
  • Absent support from the manager and HR after the Assessment Center process,
  • The assessment experienced by the individual as a sanction or communicated as such by the company,
  • Some risks associated with the restitution conduct and the lack of communication upstream of the process.

1. The predictability conditions

Upstream, it is a question of clearly defining the skills to be tested in order to build an exercise platform dedicated to them. The scenarios must take place in a professional context. The observation method must be strictly followed and the number of criteria measured per exercise is limited.


To successfully complete the Assessment Center process, it is vital to surround yourself with experienced and competent professionals. A team not trained or inexperienced in this approach can develop many biases during the evaluation.


Likewise when the evaluators belong to the company, the evaluation cannot be as “neutral” as the management or HR would like. Indeed, unless you are in an organization with a very large workforce, employees often have a label that precedes them in the organization.


The multiple times for discussion, restitution and feedback during the Assessment Center process make it possible to refine the diagnosis. Feedback is essential since it allows concrete support for the candidate.

2. The risks of a poorly conducted debriefing

Restitution is one of the cornerstones of the Assessment Center process. Conducting a debriefing can be a perilous exercise, especially when the situation is delicate or when the person have lacks of experience.


The professional in charge of the feedback must be able to solicit the participant by asking him to reflect on the information communicated to him and by indicating his areas of progress and the resources at his disposal to build his development plan.


The pace adopted must provide enough space for the individual to think on the elements returned to him. This represents the opportunity for both side to appreciate the individual’s level of self-awareness and to measure his growth potential.

3. Thereafter absent support from HR

The Assessment Center is too often seen as an end in itself. In fact, it is the start of a process that is often poorly sized internally. Indeed, it provides the starting material for building a future development path.


The candidate or employee must understand that this is therefore only a stage, in which he is part of as an actor. On the company side, the recommendations are just as declined for the employee, his manager and the HR whose support can be essential.


In the case of a Development Center, the objective is not to evaluate and there are no issues in terms of mobility, promotion, appointment, etc. A person’s development begins with the identification of areas for improvement, and therefore with evaluation. This is why the concepts of assessment and development are closely linked.



Explore how an individual will perform in the future : Discover our Assessment Center based on simulation of a professional environment.

If you’d like to learn more about assessing and developing your leadership team, get in touch with us, fill in the contact form below.


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RH Consulting – Talent Management
Scientific evaluation of skills and potential

Expert in the evaluation and development of resources, skills and potential, Apostrof helps you make the right decisions regarding recruitment, annual interviews, professional training, organisation of operational staff, career management and professional development, succession plans and high potential..

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