How Assessment Centre works in Talent Acquisition


Human beings are one of the most complex creations on this planet and understanding them is a difficult subject to study & practice. No wonder then that Mr. Sigmund Freud contested in his ‘Iceberg model of Consciousness’ that, like an Iceberg, which has only 10% of its total mass above the water, visible human behaviour is only 10%, while the drivers of behaviour (traits, beliefs, values) are submerged in our preconscious and unconscious mind. Under such circumstances, gauging human behaviour and one’s professional & inter-personal capabilities to hire the right fit is a challenging task that we face as an Organization.

Research suggests that Accuracy of Predicting the right resource via various hiring tools are as follows:
  • Screening of Resumes (18 – 20%)
  • Unstructured Interviews (14 – 15%)
  • Structured Interviews (40 – 45%)
  • Personality Test (50 -55%)
  • Ability Test (60%)
  • Assessment Centre (65 – 68%)

*Research of Schmidt & Hunter 1998 – Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings; The Validity & Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology & Source – Comprehensive meta-analysis of integrity test validates by Ones, Viswesvaran & Schmit (1993).

An interesting analogy that crossed my mind while reading the above research was the way the royal marriages or ‘Swayamvars’ took place in ancient India. It involved an extensive process of family background check, kundli check, meetings with the partner / family as well as various physical tasks.

On somewhat similar lines, Assessment Centre’s effectiveness as a selection tool lies in its multi – centric approach. It involves conducting multiple assessments for an individual through multiple sub tools for varied competencies to arrive at the best fit.

In modern times, Assessment centre was first used by German military (1920’s) to assess the officers for German Army. In 1956, AT&T made the first industrial application and then various companies like Standard Oil, IBM, GE followed it and reaped benefits out of it. Today MNC’s like KPMG, Unilever, Coca-Cola, HSBC, Beoing use Assessment Centre’s for hiring freshers as well as Senior Leaders

Broad outline for conducting as AC would be:

1- Pre:

  • Identification and defining of the Competencies for the role based on the job description
  • Defining of Expected Behaviors and Rating Scale
  • Designing of the right tool matrix
ParameterSample ToolCompetencies that can be measured
Past BehaviourCompetency Based Interview, 360 FeedbackPlanning and Decision Making, Learnability,  Customer Focus
Current BehaviourIndividual: In Basket, Data Analysis, Presentation, Role Play, Case StudyCommunication, Negotiations, Prioritisation, Analytical Skills
Group: Simulation games, Assigned / Non assigned Group Discussion, Work sample activitiesLeadership, Teamwork, Problem Solving, Influencing Skills
Drivers of BehaviourAbility, Personality and Psychometric TestsAbility to process verbal / numerical information, Achievement Orientation


  • Educating the assessor on Competencies, Tools and Rating Scale
  • Training the assessors on ORCE (Observation, Record, Classify, Evaluate). This would help in reducing biases like halo / horn effect, Central tendency effect, Leniency / Severity effect, Stereotyping, Content v/s Behavior

2- During:

  • Lead Assessor / Incharge has to ensure that Assessment Centre is conducted as per the schedule
  • Every participant goes through each of the tools which ensures there is equal opportunity for all and hence enhancement of credibility and brand of the organization

3- Post:

  • Assessors would hold an integration session to collate the candidates’ scores and make an objective selection decision on the appropriate candidate

Author- Pooja Shah, a Principal Consultant at HR Anexi Pvt. Ltd., she provides strategic consulting services which includes business-centric and data-driven talent strategy, leadership alignment, culture building, learning, and strategic change solutions to multiple family-owned businesses to address their transformation agenda. She is MBA (HR) from Mumbai University and gold medalist from her Institute (NLDIMSR). Certified Psychometric Assessor from Psytech and Thomas Assessments to use a range of psychometric tools (DISC, 15FQ+, MBTI, VMI), Certified Assessor for Assessment centres & Certified Compensation & Benefits Manager


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