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The Assessment Center Frequently Asked Questions



Virginie Graziani

Talent Management & Synergologist

13 April 2023

Reading Time: 7 minutes



This FAQ on the Assessment Center aims to give you the keys to this assessment technique, which is becoming more and more widespread in companies. The aim is to understand the process on the company side and on the candidate side. We also discuss the dimensions that are most frequently surveyed in the context of an assessment of managerial potential in an assessment center.

Complete your knowledge:
The White Paper: The Assessment Center, a lever for Talent Management.


What is an Assessment Center?


An assessment center is a method used to evaluate candidates for a job or for promotion. It is usually a one-day assessment in which candidates are asked to complete a number of tasks and job simulations, either on their own or in small groups. Assessors observe and participate in various simulation exercises in order to assess the behaviour, personality and potential of the participant.

This assessment technique may include presentation tests, written tests, case studies, group exercises or other types of assessments. This approach therefore defines an in-depth evaluation of a candidate or employee in a professional environment, often with a view to selecting a profile for recruitment or internal career development.

The Assessment Center is therefore both an evaluation process that allows us to observe and understand all the facets of a person at work. The individual being assessed is fully involved during this day because the workload is real. It corresponds to a first day of integration within a new employer and/or in a new function.


What is assessed in an Assessment Center?


Unlike other assessment techniques, the Assessment Center allows certain skills to be tested in a situation. This could be, for example, an individual’s capacity for analysis and judgement. To do this, the person being assessed will have to process and link a multitude of data in order to obtain an overall view of a situation, generally with the aim of being able to make a decision later on.

As assessors observe and participate in work situations they have access to the participant’s behaviour and personality. Simply put, an individual may say that they want to be a manager or that they love teamwork, but it is a different story when we observe them working. Also, as a collaborator of the person being assessed, we feel what these colleagues, peers and managers may feel on a daily basis.

The other main advantage of the Assessment Center is the ability of the assessors to understand the way the participant works. This goes further than an assessment in the form of a rating. Moreover, there are no grades, nor is there a pass or fail Assessment Center. On the contrary, this day reveals the mastery of a skill and softskills, as well as the underlying drivers of the behaviours implemented.


Why is the Assessment Centre the unrivalled assessment tool?


The Assessment Center is the most comprehensive and accurate assessment tool available to companies. It is the number one tool in predictive validity for identifying an individual’s potential.

It can be used to test employees or candidates on a number of important criteria, including their ability to communicate, work in a team, make decisions and manage stress. This diagnosis focuses on the participants’ soft skills, although some technical skills can also be tested.

This technique is also a very useful tool for assessing candidates on criteria that are difficult to measure otherwise, such as motivation, commitment and personality. The Assessment Center can also enable a company to better compare candidates with each other, which is particularly important when they have similar levels of experience.


What are the components of an Assessment Center?


An assessment center measures the skills and competences of job candidates. It generally consists of a series of activities and tasks, which may include knowledge tests, simulated interviews, work situations, etc.

The richness of the process lies in the observation of behaviour and the cross-views of the different assessors. The results of the Assessment Centre help decision-makers to better understand the strengths and areas for development of candidates or employees.

The objective is therefore to make more informed choices during the selection process or internal mobility. The decontextualisation of the various situations included in the Assessment Centre approach is the key to detecting an individual’s potential.


Who is best suited to carry out an Assessment Center?


The most appropriate person to carry out an assessment center is an expert in personnel management or psychology. This is because they are best able to understand the behaviour of individuals and determine their aptitudes.

Also, this approach is often not widely used by recruiters, who mainly use interviews to probe an individual’s qualities. The Assessment Center also allows for the measurement of emotions and reactions of individuals in different situations, which is useful for predicting their behaviour in a work environment.

It therefore requires a certain amount of experience and practice in this approach to implement it (e.g. design of the assessment day with the construction of scenarios, restitution and feedback, etc.).


How long does an Assessment Center last?


Assessment Centers can last from a few hours to several days, depending on the number and nature of the activities included. They usually start in the morning and finish in the evening.

Also, participants are accommodated in a hotel when the Assessment Center is located at a distance from their home. This allows them to arrive fresh and available for the often intense day. In the context of recruitment, the candidate can carry out a single job simulation exercise.

This simulation then focuses on a few key dimensions to be probed. This is often the case for the recruitment of sales profiles, for example, who will be asked to carry out a simulation of a sales negotiation with a client or prospect.


Why do we sometimes talk about Development Center?


The Development Center is a professional assessment approach identical to that of the Assessment Center, this time with a focus on the development of skills and potential.

The difference lies solely in the objective. The Assessment Center allows for assessment in order to select, while the Development Center uses the precise diagnosis obtained through this technique to target an individual’s areas for progress. It is therefore an opportunity to offer recommendations for improving skills.

This can take the form of coaching and/or training while highlighting the resources available to an individual. These recommendations are divided into three parts: those that concern the employee directly, those intended for his or her manager and HR.


Why is the Assessment Centre not an end in itself?


Evaluation plays an important role in the professional world. It is above all a managerial and HR act in the company. Indeed, evaluation consists of making an assessment that is as objective as possible on an assignment.

It also plays an essential role in the learning and development of skills thanks to the respect of a human, ethical and factual dimension during the restitutions and feedbacks. Feedback is one of the cornerstones of evaluation.

It takes the form of an oral exchange and a written summary of the resources and development areas of an individual. The feedback should enable the recipient to improve and develop his/her skills.

The feedback also makes it possible to gather the feelings of the person being evaluated, before giving the salient elements, as well as the way the person being evaluated operates.



About the Assessment Center


The Assessment or Development Center are methodologies that use a professional situation. The objective is to carry out a precise diagnosis of the strengths and areas for improvement of a candidate or employee. The objective is to carry out a precise diagnosis of the strengths and areas for improvement of a candidate or employee.

In the context of recruitment, this stage enables the company to advise on a suitable integration plan for the individual’s personality and skills. Also, having a global vision of talent is essential to prepare a new organisation within a company. In the case of internal mobility, the assessment includes specific recommendations on a development plan.

The Assessment Center: a lever for Talent Management



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