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How Do you Run a Successful Assessment Center?



Virginie Graziani

Talent Management & Synergologist

16 November 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes


You’ve made your mind up, you’re going to set up an assessment center-type process. So how do you go about it? This is how you put all the conditions in place to make the assessment a success. The assessment center is a very specific process and you need to understand its theoretical principles, know the mechanisms of human behaviour and have proper practical experience.

Choosing the theme of the exercises, the number of exercises in total and the aspects to be assessed in the simulations can prove very complex. That’s why it’s often better to outsource the service to people with expertise in running assessment centers. It is possible for you to set up your own assessment center but if you do, there are some important principles you should follow.


The Ideal Context for Running an Assessment


It’s best to run an assessment center off the company’s premises. A neutral environment means that employees won’t be distracted by their normal activities. In any case, you need to create the conditions to allow participants to focus on the tasks they have to perform, especially during the preparatory phases.

Remember, the assessment involves processing information, prioritising, comparing, analysing, etc.; in other words, working!


Content: Practical example of the Assessment of a Particular Skill


In order to look at both the skills and the potential of a candidate, it’s not uncommon to put several simulation exercises togetherEach type of exercise shines a light on particular behaviours of the participants:

– The exercise entitled ‘Sorting the mail’ is essential if you want to know how an employee operates. Participants have to sort a number of documents containing complex and/or partial information. They therefore need to slip into the job concerned and process the information. This generally means setting priorities and drawing up an action plan, so that the assessor can see how they organise themselves and how they routinely process information.

– There are two stages to role play exercises: an analysis stage in which the participant prepares for a forthcoming meeting (sales meeting with their team, presentation of a strategic plan to the management team, etc.); and a role play exercise in which the participant puts their own behaviour into practice. The second stage gives the assessors the chance to see the participant ‘in action’ and to analyse their personality and (hard and soft) skills.

Did you know that when we are engaged in role play, the human brain is fooled by the task and our behaviour quickly becomes our true behaviour? That’s how potential can be easily identified by experienced assessors.


How many People does it take to Run an Assessment?


The number of assessors necessary for an assessment depends on two variables: the exercise, which will need a number of ‘actors’ to be part of the role play and set up the group dynamic; and the number and variety of simulation exercises used for a session. Generally, you need to have at least two assessors.

Did you know that some exercises require as many as six consultants. Obviously, they’re professionals trained in this specific assessment technique and regularly involved in assessment centers. The more complementary the profiles of the ‘actors’, the more effective the assessment will be. For example, at Apostrof, we have a multi-disciplinary team of professionals from various backgrounds: occupational psychologists, trainers, coaches and HR experts, all former operational employees who know assessment like the back of their hand.




Head hunting helps you to target rare and high profils. Attract, engage and match the best talent thanks to Executive Search.

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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