Assessment center: what it is and how it is used in the selection of personnel

Staff selection is a set of human resources that encompasses a series of processes and strategies for finding the best candidate for a given position (or vacancy). Within the staff selection we find the assessment center (AC), sometimes referred to as situational assessment interviews.

CAs are personnel selection methods that allow multiple candidates to be interviewed at the same time. They consist of a series of tests and activities conducted by one or more investigators. In this article, we will know what they consist of, how they are developed and which aspects to evaluate.

    Assessment center: what is it?

    An Assessment Center (AC) is a methodology for assessing group applicants, Own of the Human Resources sector; more precisely, it belongs to the field of personnel selection. This is a group selection process, which allows you to interview more than one candidate at a time (in fact, they assess groups of people, the number of which may vary).

    There are several types of assessment center, but generally speaking we are talking about group interviews where there is a challenge, a test, a dynamic, etc. (Usually more than one).

    In assessment centers, various techniques and strategies are used to select the best candidate (s) for the position offered; all of these techniques are developed under the supervision (and direction) of one or more assessors.

    These evaluators, in turn, are human resources professionals, Who can be psychologists, labor relations graduates, human resources technicians, etc.


      The Assessment Center offers a series of activities, debates, dynamics or games that must be solved as a group (although there may also be individual activities). So, in a way, it is a group dynamic that includes individual tasks, and that aims to assess the skills and abilities of candidates thanks to a series of predefined parameters.

      As mentioned, one or more assessors are involved (usually and ideally more than one); in fact, several are advised to participate, in order to be able to observe and analyze the behaviors, attitudes and responses of the participants.


      The purpose of an assessment center is to determine the candidate (s) best suited to fill the position (s) in which the interviewer or assessor works.

      In general, assessment centers they are used as a complement to other selection processes (For example, telephone interview, face to face interview, psychotechnical tests, etc.). However, it can also be used as the first and only filter to select the right worker.

      In turn, the Assessment Center seeks to create an environment from which applicants can develop the specific skills they are looking for for the position to be filled. In other words, in the CA, the candidate will have to demonstrate that he has these skills as well as the skills required for the vacant position.


      The assessment centers, conventionally, are generally developed in more or less large rooms, with a table and the corresponding chairs for the candidates. It is advisable to have bottled water for them. They can also be performed outdoors; everything will depend on the philosophy and mode of operation of the company.

      Sometimes, in addition, the use of a camera is used, which makes it possible to record the entire session; this is done in order to subsequently be able to analyze in detail the responses and attitudes of the candidates. The use of the camera is also common in the boardThat is, in companies that work for other companies, looking for candidates for their positions.

      In this case, the consulting client (which is another company) requests a series of candidates to fill the “X” positions; what the design office does is register the Assessment Centers that it develops to send the material to its client later, and that the latter decides which candidate chooses.

      How long do they last?

      The duration of the assessment center will depend on the type of position to be filled, the number of vacant positions, the number of candidates applying for the offer, As well as other variables linked to the company and the offer in question.

      In general, however, the duration varies from a few hours to several days (The latter being less common).

      When is it used?

      The assessment center they are suitable for almost all types of selection process. The positions that assessment centers work on may be positions that require certain types of studies (such as marketing technician, human resources, press officer, etc.) or positions that do not require studies – or which require less advanced studies – (eg, telephone operator, commercial, etc.).

      However, it is more common to use it when the positions are higher in terms of demands for the candidate (level of education) and in terms of salary.

      However, while an assessment center can be used for a wide variety of job postings, we must keep in mind that this procedure usually has a high economic costIn doing so, it involves many hours of design, planning, preparation, development, etc., as well as subsequent hours of evaluating the results.

      However, even if it has a high cost, if it is applied correctly and completely, 1 Assessment Center can be a good choice for its high validity (as long as the design is appropriate), and it can even save the company some costs, preventing it from hiring unsuitable candidates by position.

      What is assessed in the situational assessment interviews?

      Depending on the positions to be filled, the design of the assessment center and what is planned will vary; thus, in some processes, specific aptitudes, capacities or capacities will be valued, and in others, others.

      1. Abilities and skills

      Some of these skills or abilities are usually particularly valued: For example, organizational capacity, leadership capacity, decision making, analysis, planning, social skills, communication, problem solving, teamwork, work under pressure and the ability of suggestion.

      2. Personality traits

      Personality is a construct that can also be assessed in an assessment center, although more superficially than by any other type of individual test or personality test.

      The personality variables that are usually evaluated, and which are more valued in different jobs (in general) are initiative, proactivity and motivation. In other words, showing initiative in problem solving, participating in debates that may arise during the evaluation and helping other colleagues are actions generally appreciated positively by companies. In addition, providing insights, knowledge and opinions also promotes the self-image that reviewers have of themselves.

      On the other hand, the motivation that we have mentioned alludes to the candidate’s desire to resolve the problems posed by the Assessment Center, as well as to the interest aroused by the proposed post.

      Types of tests

      We have already mentioned that the tests that are carried out in an assessment center are varied. More specifically, tests of three types are generally used:

      1. Situational tests

      This type of test, also called professional, assess the specific skills for the specific position to be filled. These are tests that emulate real situations and that require the candidate to perform or solve a series of specific tasks.

      Examples of situational testing are role plays, debates, case studies, etc.

      2. Knowledge tests

      Knowledge tests involve the person developing a series of answers, on the basis of specific questions asked for the position to be filled. In other words, they assess the specific knowledge required by the position.

      This knowledge can be of different types (depending on the vacant position): languages, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, etc.

      3. Psychotechnical tests

      Finally, within an assessment center (and other selection processes) we can find psycho-technical tests, which assess different personality traits, as well as specific skills and competences.

      This type of test is particularly useful to determine the degree of adaptability of the candidate for the position to be filledIn other words, to what extent he is a good candidate to carry out the tasks of this position.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Marín, M. (2012). Social psychology of group processes. Pyramid.
      • Olaz, AJ (2011). Methodological development of an assessment center based on a skills management system. Labor Relations, 24: 197-217.
      • Richino, S. (1996). Selection of personnel. Annex, Group Assessment Techniques. Editorial Paidós.

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