Re-imagining Assessment Centres: moving them up the recruitment funnel.

Assessment centres, in which many candidates are brought together for one or two days late in the recruitment process, are one of the best predictors of job performance around. The often- quoted Hunter & Schmidt 1998 research continues to hold true with only work samples providing a better predictive validity.

In fact today, more than 9 out of 10 employers using assessment centres believe they are a very or fairly effective means of recruiting staff to fill vacancies.

So why don’t companies bring assessment centres higher up the recruitment funnel, making use of them earlier on to spot those most likely to succeed and focus effort on recruiting those?

The answer is likely to be cost. It often costs up to £500 per candidate to bring people together – including assessor time and expenses – to carry out an in-depth assessment. So it tends to sit towards the end of the selection process when a lot of other time and cost has already been expended.

An assessment centre is, by its nature, a combination of tasks, role-interactions, presentations, interviews and scenario-based exercises. Borrowing the latest advances from gaming technology, some of these aspects can now instead be performed in an online game, to provide automated profile reports that can be matched to job role profile.

These scenario-based games can provide behavioural profiles and also offer insights into work performance metrics such as learning agility and resilience under pressure. Moving these aspects to earlier in the recruitment process gives advantage to those companies wanting to get a competitive edge and spot the key competencies early on. Ideally, such a move should also provide an attractive ROI by improving the productivity of subsequent selection steps.

Of course, many companies are already using personality questionnaires and competency-based interviewing to give some insight but how do these play out for those applicants with limited experience to draw on?  What’s needed is an assessment which measures exactly how the applicant behaves, since current behaviour is the best predicator of future behaviour.

And this is what we have built; an assessment game with the psychometric rigour of reputable recruitment tests, and, crucially, an assessment that invites the applicant into a working world where actual behaviour is demonstrated, and then analysed and interpreted.  This gives a good indicator of how he or she will behave in the job role itself rather than a ‘what if’ or ‘how would you react?..’ scenario.

It’s moving key features of an assessment centre further up the funnel.  What do you think?