Cope with Application Tests: 11 Tips for the Assessment Center


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Text comes from: Das große Hesse/Schrader Bewerbungshandbuch (2015) from Jürgen Hesse, published by Stark Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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“Assessment Center” is the term for a test procedure that has been used and expanded particularly in the USA and is now also becoming increasingly widespread in Germany. How can you survive it successfully?

Assessment Center

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Jürgen Hesse juergen-hesseJürgen Hesse is bestselling author and Germany's best-known job application coach.

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To the history of the assessment center

The English expression conceals the fact that this examination procedure was originally developed in Germany under the name "Army Psychotechnology" and was used to select young officers.

In the 50 years, the American economy discovered this method to test applicants for their suitability. And since the 70 years, the assessment center in Germany has been increasingly used as a personnel selection tool.

The procedure is used particularly in management, but now also used for trainee apprentices, especially if they apply to banks and insurance companies.

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What happens at the Assessment Center

In the assessment center, a combination of different behavioral and work samples is used to select a personnel. The applicants or participants in an AC procedure are working on tasks that are intended to simulate the future leadership situation.

The resulting behavioral and performance results are assessed by so-called assessors (mostly executives from the Company , but also psychologists) observed and evaluated.

The most important tests, tasks and exercises in this procedure are:

  • Interviews (individually and in groups)
  • Postcorb exercise (typical tasks from the professional field)
  • Manufacturing tasks (a manufacturing company is simulated)
  • Rolling games (usually in pairs, eg sales, employee, problem / conflict conversation)
  • Presentations and lectures
  • Group discussions (with and without roles)
  • individually workable tasks and tasks
  • Intelligence and performance tests
  • Personality and interest tests
  • biographical questionnaires
  • Curriculum vitae

The Examination Board

The execution time of an AC is usually three to eight hours, in rare cases sometimes two full days. Here, six to twelve participants work between eight and twelve exercises. As time is money, more and more companies are turning to apprenticeship applicants for a kind of mini-AC, which only takes one to three hours.

As mentioned above, the assessors play an important role. These three to six observers represent the candidate selection and training placement providers, on whose decision depends who is hired.

In other words, they form the examining board, which, like jurors, make their judgments in figure skating. Sometimes, so-called moderators appear whose job it is to find the introductory or passing words about the AC tasks, to control the organizational process and, if necessary, to do some jokes to lighten the tense situation a little.

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The following features and requirements are to be checked at the AC:

  • social competence (e.g. ability to cooperate, ability to make contacts, sensitivity)
  • systematic thinking and acting (eg abstract and analytical thinking, decision-making ability, planning and control)
  • Activity (eg work motivation, leadership, assertiveness and self-employment)
  • Expressiveness (eg written and oral communication skills and flexibility)

Some test assignments will help you to successfully pass an Assessment Center, but it is not enough to practice only because such a selection process also includes many other tasks.

It is important that you pay particular attention to your behavior, as you are closely followed by the assessors in this selection process.

The 11 most important behavioral rules for the AC interview:

  1. Listen attentively, focused-turned towards.
  2. Keep appropriate eye contact.
  3. Watch closely (without eyeing).
  4. Think before you answer, take the time.
  5. Do not be afraid to ask.
  6. Better talk a little less than too much.
  7. Let your conversation partner talk.
  8. If you wait, you can also take a short break.
  9. Be more reserved than too offensive.
  10. Stay objective, calm, patient and relaxed.
  11. Last but not least: pay attention to your body language.

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