Interview by Susanne Barth, Publications Manager
The aim of Assessment Centres (ACs) is to provide objective standards during a recruitment process. But that’s not all. Assessment Centres can also be used for systematic talent development, especially in leadership and management. We spoke with Laurent Cousseau, Krauthammer Senior consultant, who is leading around 80 ACs every year.
1. What’s the advantage of an AC?
First of all it helps the candidate to be aware of his resources and the impact of his behaviors in the workplace. It’s intended to picture his talents and capacities, but also to draw a plan of what could be improved.
An AC is also a decision making tool with a highly predictive value. In a recruitment process it helps to save time and to avoid errors. In only half a day or a day, we see the potential of the candidates. By working on a business case, we observe them in action and see how they behave and cooperate with others. We also observe their ability to take decisions.
When it comes to internal promotions an AC helps to find out if the candidate is fitting to the new position. When we want to promote, for example, a candidate with an exclusive sales background to a management position, we can assess his capabilities to lead a team and his coaching skills. Using role plays gives us the opportunity to assess candidates on critical situations and key success factors for the future position. Besides, you can use the results to agree up front on a coaching plan in order to improve capacities. By giving support right from the start, the integration into the new role will be optimized.
Overall the assessment guarantees a neutral observation and a fair process.
They have to be clear about the objective. Do they want to run a selection or a development process? It’s also important that the communication is aligned to that. This helps to avoid reactions like “I was told that the assessment is just a confirmation for my promotion”. After the assessment itself, it’s important to translate the results into an individual development plan for each candidate.
In the preparation phase we identify together with the client the critical success factors for the position and we define the required competencies. This helps us to build a tailor made business case and role plays.
The Assessment day itself has several elements. An interview about the candidate’s experience, his successes and motivational drivers. We also integrate a personality profile test. Then a business case peppered with burning issues where the candidates need to take quick decisions and prepare an action plan. Afterwards we have role plays which are directly linked to the business case. We end the day with collecting the self-perception of the candidates about what went well during the day. In one day we gain a complete picture of the candidates.
The two last steps are the feedback and development rounds. We give feedback to the company and we have an individual feedback meeting with each candidate. The last meeting is a joint one with the candidate and his manager or the HR manager to build his individual development plan.
We tailor the AC to the client’s needs, and our consultants are able to really challenge the behavior of the candidates. They are not only role players; they understand the business and all the important issues at stake. Also our great focus on giving feedback helps people to measure the impact of their behavior and improve it. And with our development plan, we finally go beyond pure assessment, with concrete actions for the coming six months. If wished, we can go on with training and coaching programs to really enter into the individual development logic.
We run different programs for Top Management profiles. For example Assessment processes dedicated to future CEOs which are combined with training and coaching sessions. These programs aim at giving each candidate an optimal awareness of their personal strengths and rooms for improvement to start in their new position. After the assessment, and with the top leadership training program, the candidates will be prepared on what is fundamental during their first two hundred days as CEOs.
Behave natural and don’t force yourself. The assessment is a real chance to see if it fits or not. For both sides. We see an AC in the logic of development and learning rather than in the pure evaluation of the candidate.
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