The devil’s not so black as he is painted… so what is an Assessment Center?

Agnieszka Idczak-Stysiak
by: Agnieszka Idczak-Stysiak | February 8, 2016

Assessment Center is a selection technique used in recruitment processes. This method has the highest predictive validity – an indicator of how likely it is in particular test conditions to choose the candidate best fitting the requirements for the position.

The subject literature tells us that a job interview has a predictive validity ranging between 0.10 and 0.37, a personality test between 0.15 and 0.39, and graphology – sometimes used in companies with French capital – 0 :). A properly done assessment center has a predictive validity between 0.43 and 0.65.*

We organize Assessment Centers mainly when recruiting trainees and interns. We like AC despite its complexity, time-consuming preparations, and the organizational challenges it poses since it requires very detailed preparations and coordinating the presence of a number people (candidates and reviewers). We believe it’s worth the effort, though. The candidates also increasingly often say that a particular Assessment Center, despite being initially intimidating and stressful, was an interesting and entertaining experience, which is what we’re aiming at in following our company’s motto: “Always learning”.


So what does an Assessment Center look like? Well, each consists of a number of exercises like the following:

  • teamwork – free or with assigned roles
  • presentation – individual or in teams
  • tests – including typical paper-based tests
  • sample work – sample tasks on a particular position
  • verification of fluency in English

A number of people from Human Resources and other departments are involved in the Assessment Centers, each prepared according to a dedicated matrix of competences and tasks. Since the main idea of an AC is to review the selected competences, the level of their development is determined based on observation in at least two different tasks in order to make the assessment more objective. What’s more, the high predictive validity of this method results from making the assessment as objective as possible and having a number of reviewers.


So what can one expect when coming to our Assessment Center? Certainly, you won’t be alone  – we usually invite groups of eight to twelve people. There will be quite a number of people representing the company, which will give you an opportunity to meet people from the departments you’re applying for a job in. You also need to find a bit more time for as Assessment Center as it usually lasts for about four hours. Obviously, there are breaks you can spend on having a look around the company and seeing for yourselves whether you might like working in a particular environment. Most importantly, though, there’s no need to prepare and search the Internet for “how to do well at an AC” guides. Just be yourself!


*as in T. Witkowski (2007). Dobór personelu. Koncepcje, narzędzia, konteksty [Personnel selection. Competences, tools, contexts]. Wrocław, Poland. Moderator.

Agnieszka Idczak-Stysiak

Agnieszka Idczak-Stysiak

Psychologist and English philologist with 13 years of experience in corporate human resources - over a third of her life. Mother of two daughters and wife - in reverse order. An expert in production of homemade fruit liquors - for family’s and friends’ use.
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