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What is an Assessment Center?


An assessment center is a method or process, not a place. It's history traces back to the 1930's when a Harvard Professor coined the term. It's initial implementation in this country was by The US Air Force during World War II.  AT&T also began using the assessment process in the 1950's.


‚ÄčAround the 1970's, police agencies that were dissatisfied with the traditional objective testing began to use the assessment center process.  They found that it was a much better predictor of success for candidates seeking to promote into supervisory positions.  Simply measuring a person's ability to study for and score well on a standardized test is not predictive of his/her success as a supervisor.


The assessment center measures particular behaviors that are identified as essential in the success of supervisory personnel. These behaviors may include:

- Leadership

- Problem Analysis and Judgment

- Oral Communication

- Planning and Organizing

- Interpersonal Relations

- Initiative

- Teamwork

- Professional Knowledge

- Written Communications

- Creativity

One can see the depth that can be measured over a pencil and paper test.  


After a job task analysis is completed, interviews with incumbent and supervisory personnel are conducted. The instrument is designed and then the process is facilitated.  Trained assessors with specific experience in the rank being assessed, and typically one rank above, closely observe their behaviors and record both numerical scores as well as comments about the candidates strengths and areas for improvement.  These comments are compiled and then returned to the department head and the candidates.  This makes the program a 360-degree developmental process.  Candidates are able to see the areas in which they excel and the areas they may need to work on.


Some agencies use the assessment center as the only part of the promotional process. SLR recommends using it as a major part of the process, while also including tenure points, objective testing and a final interview, typically conducted by the final decision maker.  In some agencies the process is managed by the human resources department, while in others the promoting agency handles the process.  


SLR has received nothing but positive feedback from the agencies and candidates we worked with.  SLR would be pleased to discuss the assessment process in more detail and assist you in setting up your promotional process and policies.  This service is complimentary.