RecruitmentAssessment centres greatly increase your chances of selecting or promoting the right candidate and reduce the risk and cost of failed recruitment.

When designing assessment centres, employers and recruiters make the same mistakes time and time again. It’s important to be aware of the common pitfalls so that you’ll be better placed to get results that genuinely help your business achieve the greatest outcomes.

Here’s a rundown of the top five mistakes:

1) Lack of a job analysis

The aim of an assessment centre is to identify the candidates who are best suited to the job. However, many employers and recruiters fail to carry out research beforehand into the behavioural requirements of the specific job role.

This research is necessary because it helps you choose the types of activities that you should include in an assessment centre, as well as identify the behaviours that you should be assessing.

Failing to do so will result in irrelevant behaviours being assessed and your assessment centre is unlikely to help you to identify the best person for the role.

Many recruiters or employers will ask for a presentation, when actually there’s no need in that job role for the individual to be presenting in a formal capacity. This means you end up testing their ability to present, rather than the behaviours which underpin success in a particular role.

The assessment centre needs to replicate the types of tasks that would have to be performed in the role and enable observation of the behaviours required for success.

2) Focusing on logistics rather than what’s realistic for the role

Employers and recruiters sometimes arrange activities because they work logistically, rather than because they’re the best ones to use. For example, group discussions being run within an assessment centre when they’re not relevant to the role.

Sometimes logistics mean that candidates need to be at different locations, but the consistency of activities must be maintained. A virtual assessment centre could solve this issue, while still offering a range of activities to choose from. Appropriate activities should always be chosen, regardless of the role that you’re assessing for.

3) Not providing objectives within the activities

Sometimes exercises are designed without clear goals or targets that need to be achieved. As a result, employers and recruiters are leaving a lot to chance, simply hoping that participants demonstrate the behaviours that they’re looking to observe.

If you provide very clear objectives of what you need the participants to achieve, you’re giving them the opportunity to be able to demonstrate the appropriate behaviours as best they can. This is what you want to observe in order to identify who is the best behavioural fit for the role. Have a clear end point in sight and know precisely what you want to accomplish from each and every assessment.

4) Overemphasising certain behaviours

Within an assessment process, you would typically assess six behaviours and you should be looking at each one equally. However, we sometimes see employers placing too much attention to just one or two throughout the design process.

This means that an assessment centre could, for example, include four different activities relating to one behaviour and other key behaviours get overlooked completely. The assessment centre needs to be balanced to ensure participants have an equal opportunity to display each important behaviour.

5) Including business games rather than business simulations

Many assessment centres focus on how colleagues deal with irrelevant hypothetical scenarios, such as determining who should get a seat on a rescue boat, or getting everyone to work together to build a bridge.
While this can be a good way to see how well everyone works alongside each other, it doesn’t actually tell you much about whether they’d be good in the specific role you’re looking to fill.

Business simulations add an element of realism and can be offered to candidates in an online format or as paper based exercises and can also include face to face activities. Make sure your assessment centre includes simulations that are relevant to the role. By including simulations, you also make the process a realistic job preview for the candidates.

Organisations set up their assessment processes with the best of intentions, but sometimes they’re misguided in their approach. By starting with a job analysis and using this as the basis of the assessment centre, employers and recruiters will be able to choose relevant activities that assess the right behaviours in an appropriate way.

Using competency based business simulations to do so will take the centre to the next level, providing a job preview for the candidate as well as a relevant assessment for the recruiter.