How do I Prepare for a Development Centre?

There are some fundamental differences for you, the participant, if you attend a Development Centre:

• You will actively be involved in assessing yourself.

• You will also be given your results from the centre and expected to own the development requirements as part of your Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

• You will be required to assess the competencies of the other participants, or candidates.

In this instance the assessors would alter the nature of the exercises so that the developmental aspects required for the role were emphasised. In some of the exercises, the assessing team might perform the role of facilitators to ensure that the participants bring out all the competencies required.

Part of your day is likely to include the completing of some of the usual psychometric tests:

Abstract Reasoning
Numerical Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
Personality Tests

If you role is of a more technical nature you may also be required to take a similar tests on your spatial ability, and possibly your mechanical reasoning. The results of these tests will then be discussed with your assessor as to where your future potential lies and where the main focus of your personal development should be focused (e.g. A Management, Research or Technical role).

If you take part in a development centre, your role will be one where there is more emphasis on your abilities to ‘explore’ or ‘brainstorm’ an issue or the potential of a situation; rather than be expected to display a particular competency.

Many centres also use a technique called ‘Domain Mapping’. This is where you identify where you want to be in a particular skill or level of knowledge, e.g. become a Senior Consultant and then ‘map’ where you are now e.g. line manager. You then work out a staged plan of how to get there through discussion with your Assessor or your peer group, These stages are likely to involve both personal and professional requirements.

This means that you are not in a ‘Pass or Fail’ situation, which you would be in an assessment centre. Throughout the development centre you will have ‘Evaluation Sessions’ where you will receive feedback on how you have performed and how that compares to the competencies of your potential future role.

It is still important to prepare for this type of centre by having a clear understanding of what a typical role’s competencies are. Many internal candidates perform below par because they neglect to familiarise themselves with the latest internal policies, procedures and interpretation of the organisation’s mission statement.

By neglecting to use an internal promotion as an opportunity to review your personnel file you deny yourself the chance to prepare arguments and evidence of how you have continued your development. It is also a useful reminder of possible incidents that may be focused on during the assessment centre that have perhaps been forgotten.

If you are attending a development centre remember that your new boss will use your personnel file in the same way a potential external employer will use your curriculum vitae (resume). They will use these items to make an initial assessment of your capabilities. So you too should review its contents as a key part of your own preparation for the event.

If you want to manage your career within an organisation then you must prepare for all internal promotions as diligently as you would for any external opportunity. Many people forget the importance of their preparation when attending internal interviews as they feel there will be no surprises during the process. Experience often shows that these interview are equally tough and in some ways more challenging than external ones.

Organisations are obliged to ensure that all recruitment is operated fairly and frequently incorporate ‘Assessment Day(s)’ as part of their internal promotional. All of the preparation described in the following chapters is relevant to your internal promotion and you should follow the same preparatory tasks.

You may also be interested in:

What is an Assessment Centre?
Who uses the Assessment Centre?
What are the Different Types of Assessment Centre?
What Format Does an Assessment Centre Take?
Who are the Assessors?
What are Assessment Centre Exercises?
What is an In-Tray Exercise?
What is a Presentation Exercise?
What are Group Exercises?
What are Role Play Exercises?

Pass Assessment Center