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5 Practical Assessment Centre Exercises


Have you ever pondered why pilots spend enormous time practicing in a simulated environment even before actually flying the plane? Or why surgeons spend many years dissecting corpses before operating humans? Well, the answer is quite easy. Both these lines of work have high stakes, demanding absolute precision and skill because even the tiniest mistake can risk lives. Not to forget the emotional and mental stability that is a prerequisite for such professions.

On the other hand, we do not experience similar catastrophic implications in the corporate world. Even though decision making in the corporate does not pose a threat to life, it surely has the potential to create or shatter the brand value. A bad decision creates a ripple effect in the organization, affecting everyone from management and employees to their families and livelihood. So, a mountain of responsibility vests on the shoulders of decision makers, in this case – the leaders. This is exactly why all the aspiring and potential business leaders should go through the same kind of rigorous training and scrutiny before taking up a leadership role.

Leadership grows like tall trees. It needs both toughness and flexibility - toughness for accountability - flexibility to adapt changes with a compassionate & caring heart for self and others.

Amit Ray
Mindfulness Meditation for Corporate Leadership and Management

Importance of Leadership Development

All these figures point in one direction. Just like pilots and surgeons, business leaders too benefit from learning through experiences because the experience shapes their thought process and in-turn impacts their decisions.

A 2017 Training Industry report stated that the annual expenditure on corporate learning, in the United States alone, was US $90 Billion.

The question that stands – is it worth continuing to invest such large sums of money in leadership development?

The answer is, yes.

The global figures are significantly higher.

It is not that organizations are investing too much or too little in their development initiatives. The problem lies in the construct of the training initiative – are you employing the right methodologies optimal for leadership development?

If not, virtual assessments are here for the rescue.

Use of Virtual Assessment Centres

Virtual assessments have been gaining traction in organizational trainings. The benefits of making it a part of employee learning and development is paving way for organizations to spot high performing employees and making unbiased decisions.

You can use group assessment centres for evaluating talent for all kinds of roles and for talent at different career stages including:


Virtual Assessment Centres have multiple tools, mapped to behavioral competencies. The tools are administered online, followed by automated reports. This eliminates logistical hassle, manual effort and overhead costs of in-person interviews while still maintaining the test integrity and reliability.

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Top 5 Development Exercises for Leaders


1. Behavioral Assessment

Behavioral exercise gives a holistic view of an employee’s personal attributes, interpersonal or leadership skills that an individual depicts in a workplace setting. Individuals are mapped on relevant competencies innately present in them that help shape their overall personality. Behavioral assessments help employers identify positive and negative traits present on the workforce which lets them determine if a specific individual is suited for a leadership role.


2. Aptitude Test

Aptitude Tests are used to measure a candidate’s abilities that are mostly involved in thinking processes like logical reasoning, critical thinking, numerical ability or problem-solving. They indicate a person’s IQ or intelligence level. Cognitive intelligence is the most powerful factor that determines if an applicant possesses the aptitude to perform well at work. It determines how much an employee is capable of up-skilling, cross-skilling and taking up leadership roles.


3. Role Play

In this particular virtual activity, candidates enact a made-up scenario that depicts a real-life situation that can occur at the job front. This prepares them from any untoward or ambiguous situation which they may have to face as a leader. Their response to the situation determines how will they fair as a leader and subsequently impact the business and employees. Assessment centre role-play exercise is a great way to prepare for high-pressure situations and practice quick thinking.


4. Case Study

Case study exercise is a realistic simulation of a strategic problem a potential leader would likely encounter in the new role. It presents the candidate with a series of fictional documents such as company reports, or results extracted from some product research. After studying the documents, candidates present their analysis in the form of a presentation or report. This exercise evaluates the candidate’s approach to a problem and a possible outcome.


5. In-Basket

It involves simulation tests spread across a day or two to identify managerial qualities in a candidate. Herein, candidates receive e-mails, calls and memos which they must attend by prioritizing, organizing and scheduling in a limited amount of time. Candidate responses are recorded, evaluated and marked on relevant competencies.


Key Steps to Leadership Development

Leadership development aims to produce high-caliber leaders to take over senior positions when they become vacant. To future proof management positions integral to the success of your business objectives, it is important to identify, track and develop the right set of high potential employees through a streamlined process.


A good leader must also mentor his peers and subordinates. The natural outcome of a mentoring environment is that individuals are empowered to professionally develop into the best employees they can be. This leads to improved as everyone is elevated to higher performance status. Additionally, the employee will choose to stay on instead of following another leader who shows Moore interest in his future.

Morgan Gilmour
Winner, Mettl Scholarship for Emerging Leaders (2018)

Benefits of Using Virtual Assessment Centers



Assessment centre exercises test what a person can do, not what they know. It is not enough to memorize abstract principles or philosophies. What is important is the ability to apply formal education in a real world. A person may have a high IQ and a college degree but will be worthless as a supervisor if he is unable to make critical decisions under pressure or lacks the leadership ability to get subordinates to do what he wants them to. This is where properly designed and administered virtual assessment centres prove to be reliable in evaluating managerial and administrative potential. With great predictive validity, assessment centres and development centres will continue to play an important role in identifying those with the right skills and behaviours to be promoted.  And now, organisations will be able to make the process more efficient by implementing virtual assessment centres for leadership development.

Know How Industry is moving From Traditional to Digital Assessment Culture


Originally published May 30 2019, Updated June 16 2020

Megha Singh

Written by

A writer at heart, Megha has been in the content industry for 4 years. Starting her career from print, her journey spans across IT, legal and consulting industries. She has been associated with Mercer | Mettl as Assistant Manager, Content Marketing for 2 years.

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