Who Uses the Assessment Centre?

In a recent survey by Employment Review magazine more than nine out of ten employers using assessment centres believe they are a ‘very effective’ or ‘fairly effective’ means of selecting staff.

The survey, which used a sample of HR practitioners in over 90 organisations, found that more than half believe the often-considerable costs of assessment centres are justified.  As human resources are frequently one of the highest overheads of an organisation and the training of their personnel is a significant expense modern employers want to ensure they get the ‘best fit’ employee for their considerable investment.

Private sector service companies and public sector organisations in the survey were the most enthusiastic about assessment centres, with almost 60 percent believing them to be very effective. This was in contrast to manufacturing companies where only 29 percent thought that assessment centres were effective and valuable for money.

Two-thirds of employers using assessment centres include them as part of their graduate recruitment programmes or when selecting middle or senior managers.  You are most likely to face an assessment centre at the critical points of your career, for example:

  1. As a graduate applying for your first ‘real’ job.

  2. When moving from a supervisory role to a management role.

  3. When seeking a position on the board.


It is important to realise that your ability to truly influence your score and stand out from the other candidates increases as your career develops. As a graduate your most influential factor to success will be your preparation for the assessment centre and ensure that your behaviour and language matches that of the organisation.

As your career develops you will acquire competencies that you did not possess as a graduate so you will be able to differentiate yourself from the other candidates because of these experiences. As part of your preparation you will be able to bring out how these additional competencies increase your compatibility with those of the role and organisation.

The expense of conducting an assessment centre is usually somewhere between $300 and $5,000 per candidate. This tends to restrict their use to situations where the costs can be justified in terms of preventing high expenses associated with unsuitable personnel. Assessment centres are seen as one of the most effective ways of identifying top candidates who'll get on well with others and fit in with the organisation’s culture.

The assessment centre method is utilized in a variety of settings including industry and business, government, armed forces, educational institutions, and safety forces to select individuals for supervisory, technical, sales, or management positions. You can also expect to face an assessment centre if you apply to work for one of the major financial institutions or management consultancies.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's survey on ‘Recruitment, Retention and Turnover’, 34 per cent of employers now use assessment centres when recruiting managers, professionals, and graduates. This figure will inevitably grow as organisations seek to make more accurate selection and promotion decisions to secure the considerable investment they make in their personnel.

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