4) Evaluate how effective assessment centres are for the selection of staff
As business goes, so goes employee assessment. Manufacturing and service industries are expanding around the world, and companies are reaching beyond their own borders to buy, sell, and produce. This growth poses new challenges and new opportunities for assessment centre methodology.
Whether you like it or not, traditional interviews are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, the majority of today's graduates can expect to be exposed to a day or two at an assessment centre.
The assessment centre, as an approach to selection, has in recent years become very popular due to the results of better job ...view middle of the document...
A number of commentators have suggested reasons for this growing popularity.
Cook (1994) suggests that it is the current economic climate which is motivating organizations to turn to assessment centres.
There also appears to be a general perception that the interview, while a popular method, is less than effective. This scepticism is reinforced by the extant literature available on its validity (Dougherty et al., 1986; Dreher et al., 1988; McDaniel et al., 1987; Wiesner and Cronshaw, 1989). Weisner and Cronshaw (1989) report that unstructured interviews, which probably constitute the vast majority of all interviews undertaken by organizations, have low validity coefficients. However, structuring the interview, particularly by using formal job analysis as a basis, increases validity significantly. There remains significant room for error. This low level of accuracy has prompted organizations to seek alternative methods.
Another reason cited for the upsurge in interest in assessment centres is the need to adhere to legal requirements in the area of discrimination and equal opportunities. Case law in Ireland, the UK and the USA illustrates that the touchstone of compliance with equality legislation is the issue of job relatedness. The issue of job relatedness lies at the heart of the assessment-centre method.
Other researchers (Cohen, 1980a; Feltham, 1988a) have argued that the assessment centre approach is cost effective. It is generally accepted that the costs involved in setting up an assessment centre are significant; however, Cohen (1980b) illustrates, using a return or investment methodology from data submitted by 64 organizations, that the yearly return on investment can be as high as 313 per cent.
The methodology of utility analysis, which takes into consideration the variation in performance among individuals, the validity of different selection techniques and selection ratios has been used to quantify the benefits of assessment centres over other techniques.
The effectiveness of assessment centres
The assessment center method is unique in that it combines standardized individual assessment procedures such as tests, interviews, and situational exercises (Thornton & Byham, 1982). Three human resource functions can be effectively addressed through the use of the assessment center process.
* The first is selection, deciding whom to select for or promote into management positions.
* The second is diagnostic, determining strengths and weaknesses in work related skills as a prelude to development.
* The third is development, providing training for managerial and teamwork skills (Thornton, 1992).
Clare Perkins, who felt overwhelmed by the process: "I knew as soon as I walked out that I hadn't got the job," she says. "For me, it didn't feel natural, being shunted around like a number. It was like being processed in a factory."
As with most people who experience the assessment culture, Clare was sent to the centre after...