Group selection methods and assessment centres

Group tests

Organisations who want to see how potential candidates will act or react in the workplace often use group tests where candidates are observed and scored throughout the process to reveal aspects of candidates’ personalities that would not emerge under one-to-one assessment, including how candidates:

• relate to one another 

• influence others

• persuade others

• express themselves verbally to others

• handle their thought processes under pressure

• apply themselves to a problem

• solve problems

• define the role they play in group situations.

Assessment centres

An assessment centre is a process, not a place, combining a number of tools and assessments to simulate important elements of the job. Recognised as one of the best ways to select staff and assess their potential as it uses direct observation and not evidence of past experience to determine candidate potential.

Assessment centres involve structured sets of activities, usually lasting one or two days, set up by trained and briefed assessors. Candidates, whether internal or external, go through a programme of tests and exercises such as role-plays, business games and group tasks. They may also be set simulated individual job-related tests, such as a timed ‘in- tray’ exercise, where they are asked to prioritise and deal with a selection of work-related problems.

Tests will generally be interspersed with interviews. Marking is structured and co-ordinated by all the assessors to remove any individual assessor bias. The drawback of assessment centres is they require significant investment to establish and administer, so are often best used to recruit for multiple or higher level roles, where the cost of not securing the best candidate is high.