What are Assessors looking for at the Assessment Centre
If you understand what assessors are looking for and how they mark the assessment centre exercises then this will make it easier for you to achieve success. With this knowledge you can then prepare to maximise your score and stand out from the other candidates. Tina Lewis Rowe provides an excellent definition of an Assessor.
'An Assessor is an individual trained to observe, record, classify and make reliable judgements about the behaviours of those being assessed.'
Source: Lewis Rowe, Tina; A Preparation Guide for the Assessment Center Method; (2006) Charles C Thomas Publishers Ltd, Illinois, USA.
Who are your assessors? They are usually people one level above the position you have applied for. They will be ambitious and successful individuals within their own departments. These people will have a very clear idea of the qualities they expect to see in an individual performing the new role.
Many agencies have a preferred list of assessors they like to use and the human resources department will have key people they call upon for the assessment centre days. For senior roles, assessors who are external to the organisation may be used to bring a broader perspective to the assessment.
The training an assessor receives, whether they are internal or external to the organisation will equip them with the skills to observe, classify and record candidates behaviour during the exercises. They will also have a thorough understanding of the requirements of the role and have studied the job specification. From this knowledge a list of key behavioural areas will be drawn up, each having a more detailed description to ensure consistency among the assessors when scoring candidates.
There are three things you need to remember about the assessors:
They know nothing about you.
They can only give you marks for behaviours you show them during the exercises.
They are only concerned with how well you display the behaviours applicable to the role.
Your key objective is to find out what behaviours the assessors see as essential, desirable, adequate and a liability. The amount of time you have before your assessment will influence what you can do in preparation. At the very least, you need to look objectively at those above you who perform the role well and think about the behaviours they exhibit. You can use this analysis in the exercises to show how you'd use these observations to influence your performance once in the role. If you have sufficient preparation time you may want to approach someone to whom you'd report to in the new role and agree for them to mentor you.
For many organisations their Human Resources department will have drawn up their own specific scoring sheet which they will modify as appropriate for the role in question. As you can see from the example below there is space for the assessor to write in how you exhibited a certain behaviour & then a column for your score. This scoring is usually from 1-10; 1 being poor or unsatisfactory and 10 being totally capable and suited to role.
A key part of the assessors training will be to understand the scoring mechanism being used for your assessment centre. The assessors themselves often perform the exercises they are going to observe, with half of their group playing the role of candidates and the other half actually being assessors. In this way the organisation ensures that the assessors are all measuring and marking behaviours in the same way. It is through this preparation that assessors learn to all award a score of '5' for similar behaviours.
As well as practising the exercises and their observation skills, the assessors will follow each exercise with a discussion. This discussion will give them all an opportunity to say what they observed and how they've marked this behaviour and then to gain a consensus from the group to award the candidate a final score for an exercise.
This ensures that each candidate is judged fairly and that the company or organisation has a thorough record of how a final decision was made. This enables a candidate requesting feedback on their performance to receive an objective overview of their performance on the day.
Another essential part of the assessors training will be in how to use the scoring sheets or rate cards that your assessment centre will be using. Each agency, organisation or company have minor variations in their scoring and assessors need to be familiar with the method being used at your centre. Examples of the scoring sheets are given in the next section.
Some organisations prefer that the assessors use a legal pad to make their notes on and these are then used during the discussions and retained by the organisation once the assessment centre is completed.
Many organisations like to include an exercise where they use multiple assessors, usually a minimum of three people, and they will be at least one level above the position you are applying for. In these exercises the panel will be made up of diverse individuals, some may be external to the organisation or department. So you will need to be mindful of assessors who may have different priorities and adapt your behaviours accordingly.