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assessment center exercises

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Eleven most useful assessment center exercises in the virtual era

Introduction

Assessment center activities, also known as assessment center exercises, are a set of interactive tests that help measure key behavioral skills, role-specific aptitude, domain expertise, professional competencies and subjective areas like critical thinking, decision-making, teamwork, etc. These activities are typically conducted in a few hours or days at brick-and-mortar venues (traditional assessment centers), using digital platforms (virtual assessment centers) or a mix of the two.

The format and type of assessment center activities have also changed with the emergence of virtual assessment and development centers (VADCs). Therefore, it is important to keep up with the most interactive and useful ones in assessing candidates remotely. This blog is a compilation of eleven such activities that you can plan, design, customize and conduct with the help of a VADC expert.

 


Essential assessment center exercises: All you need to know

1. Icebreakers

Icebreakers are fun assessment center activities that help set the ground for interactive and lively evaluation sessions. Employers can use them strategically to observe participants when they are not under pressure by more intense assessment center exercises.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Confidence
  • Social and communication skills
  • Professional etiquette
  • Public speaking

 

Examples

  • Individual video introductions
  • LIVE informal Q&A
  • Interactive virtual games

2. Psychometric assessments

Using psychometrics is a powerful assessment center technique that offers critical insights into participants’ cognitive intelligence and personality. Two kinds of psychometric assessments– aptitude tests and personality tests- are critical to a holistic candidate evaluation.

 

Aptitude tests

An aptitude test is an evaluation of a person’s cognitive prowess and mental potential. It uncovers candidates’ mental aptitude relevant to job profiles and their ability to succeed in them. It is one of the essential assessment center exercises and can help determine an employee’s ability to upskill, cross-skill and assume leadership roles.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Observation
  • Memory
  • Mental flexibility
  • Visual processing
  • Logical reasoning
  • Numerical ability
  • Critical thinking
  • Language proficiency
  • Data interpretation

 

Examples

Assessment center exercises_Aptitude tests

 

Personality tests

Personality tests or behavioral assessment center exercises help employers identify positive and negative traits present in the workforce. They help determine if an individual is suited for a particular profile. These tests help evaluate individuals on relevant competencies innately present in them that help in shaping their overall personality.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Personal attributes
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership potential

 

Examples

Assessment center exercises_Personality tests

3. Writing tests

Assessment center activities may also include writing tests, especially in business verticals like marketing, law, health services, etc. Assessment center written exercise examples include writing reports, drafting press releases, letters, emails or even proofreading texts written by someone else.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Ability to follow etiquette and communicate appropriately (to a client, manager or colleagues)
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Language comprehension
  • Writing style and structure
  • Adaptability to writing formats
  • Email etiquette

4. Role-plays

In an assessment center roleplay, candidates enact a mock professional scenario. Their response to the situation determines how well they are suited for a certain role/industry. This assessment center exercise is also a great way to prepare employees for high-pressure situations.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Quick thinking
  • Effective communication
  • Empathy and ability to influence others in job-relevant situations

 

Assessment center roleplay example

Assessment center exercises_Role-plays

5. Case studies

As a form of an assessment center activity, case studies are a realistic simulation of strategic problems candidates would likely encounter in their new role. They present the candidates 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 various approaches to a specific problem and the ability to derive a fruitful/logical outcome.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Reasoning and logical thinking
  • Analytical ability

 

Assessment center case study example

Assessment center exercises_Case studies

6. Group exercises

Group exercise in an assessment center encourages all the participants to work toward a common goal. The purpose of such an exercise is to observe candidates and their abilities to respect, collaborate and engage with other people. There is a brief given and time limit set for this exercise. And participants get the chance to demonstrate vital professional skills and individual qualities.

Assessment center group exercise examples include group discussions and collective problem-solving as a team.

 

Discussions

In a group discussion, candidates are asked to discuss or debate a topic while the assessors observe the proceedings.

 

Problem-solving activities

Assessment center group activities present the participants with a set of challenges for which they need to arrive at solutions together.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Confidence
  • Proactive behavior
  • Professionalism and influence
  • Communication skills
  • People skills and flair for social engagement
  • Teamwork and collaboration skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management
  • Creativity
  • Public speaking
  • Memory
  • Reasoning

7. Technical assessments

Technical assessments or domain- skills evaluations are specific to job roles and job levels. They help assessors understand how well a candidate is likely to excel in a specific industry or discipline. They also help evaluate how updated the candidates are with the changes occurring in their areas of expertise.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Domain expertise
  • Technical knowledge
  • Industry knowledge
  • Efficiency in the specific line of work

 

Examples

  • Retail assessments
  • Blue-collar domain tests
  • Call center assessments
  • Assessments for law professionals
  • Engineering domain tests

8. Inbox exercise

Inbox exercises are simulation tests where candidates receive emails, calls and memos, which they must attend to by prioritizing, organizing and scheduling in a limited time. Candidate responses are recorded, evaluated and marked on relevant competencies.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Managerial qualities
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management
  • Planning and organization

 

Examples

Assessment center exercises_Inbox exercises

9. Interviews

An assessment center interview takes traditional job interviews to the virtual ecosystem. Assessment center interview questions are chosen to understand the candidate’s industry knowledge, skill level, experience, etc. Results and selection are based on competency-focused interactions among candidates and interviewers.

10. Situational judgment Test

A situational judgment test, also known as an SJT, primarily involves multiple-choice questions for testing a candidate’s ability to deal with real-life work-related situations. SJTs are a cost-effective and powerful assessment center activity for selecting capable professionals who can perform well in specific roles.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Behavioral tendencies
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Logical thinking ability

 

Examples

Assessment center exercises_Situational judgment tests

11. Presentations

A presentation exercise in a virtual assessment center is a highly interactive session that offers critical insights into participants’ expertise, experience and key professional competencies.

 

Assessment center exercises_image 11

 

There are two major ways of administering a presentation exercise in various types of assessment centers:

 

Planned presentations

For planned presentations, candidates receive a topic on which they can prepare and present. To simulate real-world scenarios, assessors may sometimes demand last-minute changes or additions in a presentation.

 

Spot presentations

This twist in a typical presentation exercise is a great way of testing a candidate’s spontaneity and ability to cope with surprises. For spot presentations, assessors provide the candidates with a ready-to-use deck. The candidates are then expected to study and analyze the given information, draw conclusions and present their thoughts in an organized, logical manner.

Alternatively, assessors may also come up with a random topic on which the candidates are required to make a presentation using limited resources and a brief preparation time.

 

Competencies assessed

  • Oral communication
  • Ability to deal with repeated questioning
  • Organization and planning
  • Time management
  • Creativity
  • Professional style
  • Patience
  • Ability to perform under pressure

 


Conclusion

Assessment center activities test what candidates can do and not just what they know. Properly designed and administered virtual assessment center exercises are also highly reliable tools for evaluating managerial and administrative potential. These activities are crucial for identifying high-potential candidates and employees with strong leadership and managerial skills with great predictive validity.

Originally published December 13 2021, Updated December 13 2021

D'ipanjenah Ali

Written by

D’ipanjenah is a writer and marketing professional associated with Mercer Mettl since 2020. Her working style thrives on a balanced approach towards standard insights and novel trends. She utilizes creative content and digital strategies to help brands start important conversations. When not reading/writing, she enjoys art and parents a calico.

About This Topic

Assessment Center Development Center, commonly known as ACDC, is a comprehensive tool used by organizations to evaluate prospective or current employees for workforce management and planning. ACDCs can be implemented virtually, physically, or in a blended format, using a suite of assessment tools.

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