I attended an assessment centre as an assessor. We were looking to appoint a new manager at one of my clients and there were six candidates. There were some group and individual exercises to see how candidates showed key skills. There were also some interviews.
We got to the end of the day and it was clear that there were two very strong candidates.
One of the exercises was to give a presentation to the panel of assessors. A fellow assessor stated that it was hard to pick between the two better candidates. However she felt that one of the candidates should be preferred as he had done excellent flip charts to support his presentation which had been clear and colourful.
The ability to do excellent flip charts wasn’t one of the skills we were testing for the role.
It reminded me of a similar situation a few years ago. An assessor said he thought a candidate should get the role as he was of very smart appearance and would give a professional image of the company.
We could probably have made that judgement five minutes into the morning session and cut out the rest.
Assessment centres as a means of selecting to positions are good in theory – but the practice is sometimes less than scientific.