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AC Checklist

Assessment Centre Dimensions

  • Are your assessment centre dimensions based on the competencies required for good, or at least adequate job performance considering such aspects as, attributes, characteristics, qualities, skills, abilities, motivation, knowledge and tasks?
  • Do you have the assessment centre dimensions which are relevant to both the job (or jobs) being considered and the culture of the organization by studying the competencies of top performers, and ideally make a comparison by studying some average performers and under performers competencies?
  • Have you used valid and reliable competence analysis techniques? Such as, inter alia Behavioural Event Interviews, Focus groups, Thematic analysis of data, Analyzing panel, Repertory Grid, Prioritizing Techniques, Performance Assessments, Linking with Key Results Areas, Survey, Questionnaire and Observation of Performance?
  • Are you certain that the competencies you have identified are the ones that are necessary for good job performance?
  • Has your competency modeling process taken into account the strategic intent of the organization - in other words, are your assessment centre dimensions, which are based on the competencies you have identified, the ones which the organization needs to take it forward?
  • Do you have a list of job responsibilities and have you taken these into account when determining competencies?
  • Have you written concise definitions in behavioural terms of your assessment centre dimensions and given behavioural anchors for each one?
  • Have external benchmarks been taken into account e.g. similar organizations' practices, similar industries, international standards, NQF unit standards, South African Excellence Foundation standards, Malcolm Baldridge Quality Awards standards?

Assessor selection

  • Is the mix of assessors reasonably similar to the mix of participants in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability etc?
  • As a part of your assessor selection process, have you checked to ensure that your assessors are good observers, good listeners, able to record, classify, rate and interpret behavioural observations in a standardized and consistent manner, able to discuss their conclusions and generally reach consensus with fellow assessors?

Assessor training

  • Have you trained your assessors and checked that they have a thorough understanding of assessment centre techniques and the way observational data is collected, analyzed and rated, the definitions with behavioural anchors of the dimensions to be used, expected or typical behaviours, examples or samples of actual behaviours which signify effective and ineffective job performance, a demonstrated ability to observe consistently and with minimal bias, a demonstrated ability to give oral and written feedback, a demonstrated ability to roleplay, an understanding of how assessment data are to be used by the organization, a demonstrated ability to administer assessment centre exercises (if this is required of assessors),
  • Have new or recently trained assessors been mentored by experienced assessors and shadowed experienced assessors?
  • Have you checked their performance to find out if any of your experienced assessors need refresher training, which you should have given them if needed.
  • Have you used video to help your assessors review the behaviours that they have observed, recorded, rated and evaluated so as to increase their proficiency?
  • Have your assessors, roleplayers and administrators taken part in an assessment centre or assessment centre exercises as participants, been observed, had their behaviour rated and received feed assessment centre feedback?
  • Do your assessors have previous qualifications and or experience which are relevant to assessing e.g. psychologists, behavioural scientists, anthropologists, social workers, occupational therapists, salespersons, negotiators, human scientists?
  • Assessor training should take around three days, certainly no less than two days, and while this is expensive, a legal challenge based on the inadequacy of the assessors could cost your organization far more; so are you satisfied that you did a thorough job in training your assessors so that now they assess accurately and consistently?
  • Assessors must observe closely how someone performs and assess their performance level, like a keen observer of televised sport; have you erroneously assumed that assessors must be able to perform the tasks being assessed and probably at least one level (in job terms) higher than the participants or that they must have ?done the job?.
  • Have you tried to ensure a mix of personalities in your assessors, research has shown that ?warm-hearted? assessors tend to rate participants highly, while ?dominant? assessors rate participants low.

Information for participants

  • Have all participants been informed in writing or verbally of the purpose of the assessment centre and have you checked that they understand this and agree to it and got them to sign a document to that effect?
  • Do participants know how they were selected to participate?
  • Have you told participants in what language(s) the assessment centre will be conducted?
  • Do participants have any choices surrounding participation or is it a condition of their continued employment or their advancement within the organization, development or being offered a job?
  • Have you informed participants of the names, positions, qualifications and training of assessors, assessment centre designers, administrators and other staff?
  • Have you informed participants what experience the organization (or its consultants) have in assessment centres and what materials they collect and maintain?
  • Do participants know how assessment centre data will be used, who will have access to it, and for how long such data will be maintained on file?
  • Do participants have the name and contact details of the person who will be responsible for storing assessment centre records?
  • Have they been told that all data relating them will be available to them?
  • Do participants know if they will receive feedback on results, when and what form that will take?
  • Do participants know if there is any procedure for reassessment?

Activity selection

  • Have you determined and documented any criteria for activity or simulation selection?
  • Are you satisfied that all activities and simulations reasonably reflect, with the limits of the assessment centre method, actual work situations relevant to the job?
  • Do your selected assessment centre activities allow participants to display the behaviours that you wish to observe - will they give them a fair chance to show you what they can do?
  • Have you considered the various models of preferred styles of data acquisition, problem solving, decision making etc. and ensured that activities and simulations reflect, for example, introverted and extraverted activities, intuitive and sensation, thinking and feeling skills and abilities, or left brain, right brain or water and rock logic, or eurocentric or afrocentric styles?
  • Have you tried to minimize the effect of participants' prior knowledge in the selection of activities?
  • Will the activities and simulations prove equally challenging to all participants e.g. males and females, young and old, black and white, able-bodied and physically challenged?
  • Have you pretested your activities and simulations to ensure they will provide reliable information and that you have written the instructions correctly?


  • Have you developed a behaviour checklist for assessors to use?
  • Do assessors know which participant to observe?
  • Is each participant observed by more than one assessor?
  • How is data used to arrive at results: group discussion, statistical/mechanical integration or a combination of both?
  • Have you ensured that in group exercises each assessor observes no more than two participants and that no two assessors observe the same two participants?
  • Have you used three or more assessors per activity or simulation?
  • Have you videotaped some activities, research shows that when videotapes are viewed by more than three assessors, assessor subjectivity is reduced?
  • How is data used to arrive at results: group discussion, statistical/mechanical integration or a combination of both?


  • In your protesting your will have determined the optimum duration for each activity, so in your administration planning have you put them together to make allowances for unforeseen hold ups?
  • Have you printed the documents relating to each activity e.g. participant's briefing sheets and activity documentation (if required), assessor's observation and rating sheets on a different colour paper?
  • Have you arranged adequate and appropriate refreshments and a light lunch, to avoid participants, assessors and support staff going to sleep in the afternoon?
  • Do the activities flow in a logical way, avoiding perhaps, ?heavy? thinking in the ?graveyard shift? right after lunch?
  • How have you ensured adequate time for assessors' meetings?
  • What steps have you taken to ensure participants do not hear or see each other's assessment (unless you have scheduled peer assessment after an activity)?

This checklist is intended to inform generally and should not be considered as a replacement for professional advice. Permission was kindly granted by Anthony Wilson to place the checklist on to the ACSG web page.

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