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Private Sector Assessment Centers

Most private sector organizations depend upon one of two methods for selection of supervisors and managers.  The first is past performance.  The theory is that if the employee was a great line employee, they’ll make a great supervisor.  This is incorrect for many reasons but the biggest reason is that supervision requires a completely different skill set that that of a line employee.  Supervisors get work done through people, not with their hands.  Placing a great line employee in this position is an excellent way to ruin a great employee and get a terrible supervisor.

The same is true with managers.  Past performance can tell you something and is valuable in the final selection process.  But it can’t tell you if the candidate has the knowledge, skills and abilities to get the new job done.  The Assessment Center process can.

Through carefully designed exercises the candidate the candidate is given an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to do the job.  Designed around your job analysis the Assessment Center will identify the candidate with the highest potential.  This system has proven itself time and time again, in hundreds of organizations.

The assessment is designed from the job analysis.  The chart below is an example of how the process unfolds.

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job analysis  
job anlysis
line supervisor operations manager

What types of exercises are used in Promotional exams and Assessment Centers?

Subordinate Interview

This exercise provides an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate how he or she handles personnel issues. Whether it’s coaching, counseling or disciplining subordinates, this is a critical skill for supervisors. A typical scenario places the candidate as the new supervisor will have to meet with a subordinate who has been having some work-related problems. The candidate’s job in this exercise is to try to get them back on track, but also to see what it is that has derailed them, and how you can help them return to an acceptable level of performance. The candidate’s communication skills, interpersonal skills, judgment, decision-making, analysis, and organizational sensitivity are all going to come into play.

In-Basket Exercise

This exercise requires the candidate to manage the in-basket, within a specific time frame, and to read and quickly analyze the key issues that are "hidden" in an in-basket exercise. This ability is acquired through practice. The book and workshops help the candidate do just that. The key dimensions are discussed in this chapter. The candidate is required to focus on each element of the "in-basket," making decisions, prioritizing and delegating! This exercise is an extension of what a good supervisor or manager should be able to do on a daily basis.  The candidate’s ability to read, comprehend, perceive and organize are all going to be relevant.

Oral Presentation

In this exercise the candidate is presented with a subject of discussion either in advance or at the assessment.  There is an opportunity for the candidate to reveal KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) in presentation by organizing his or her thoughts, examining the situation, making decisions regarding what to say and what not to as well as the presentation itself.  The foundation of the exercise is that many positions require supervisors and managers to speak publicly either to staff or to customers.  Organization, perception, problem solving and interpersonal skills are some of the dimensions examined in this exercise.

Written Exercises

A variety of written exercises are used in our assessment centers.  Some are similar to the in-basket while others are more complicated and deal with a specific set of problems.  The written problems require the candidate to use creative thinking in order to resolve challenging real world problems.  They may be based on a scenario where the department has come into some unexpected grant money and has several options regarding how to spend it or there may be a series of related training issues that the perspective training officer must organize or resolve.

Oral Panel Reviews

KPS uses three formats for these interviews and each centers around the assessors.  One way to perform these is with internal assessors while another way is with a mixture of internal and external assessors.  Finally, the way that we prefer is utilizing all external assessors.  Since one of the best predictors of future performance is past performance we utilize behavioral questions.  In other words, questions that provide the candidate with an opportunity to tell the assessors how they have performed in the past as it relates to the dimensions identified for the job in question. 

Tactical Exercise

The tactical exercise utilizes a tactical problem which the candidate must handle using common practices, standard operating procedures, good problem solving techniques and other skills to resolve.  A common misconception is that the tactical exercise is to test the candidate’s ability to use good tactics, hit certain benchmarks, say certain things that will be marked off by the assessors.  While it is true that there may be things that must be done according to the department’s policy this is not the purpose of the exercise.  The tactical exercise is a tool that if properly designed, will provide the candidate with an opportunity to reveal KSAs under the high pressure environment of emergency operations.  Problem Solving, judgment, perception, leadership and interpersonal skills are all part of the scoring of this exercise.

Customer Interaction

The candidate in this exercise is obligated to deal with an internal or external customer that is angry or upset about some service provided by the candidate’s department.  Ordinarily there are competing issues of customer service, departmental mandate or liability that must be dealt with.  Interpersonal skills, judgment, perception and problem solving skills are some of the dimensions examined in this exercise.