How To Guarantee Success From Your Assessment Centre

How To Guarantee Success From Your Assessment Centre

Following a disheartening trend for organisations to recruit talent from the external job market rather than nurturing the talent already within their organisations1, it’s reassuring to see some organisations choosing to identify and appraise their existing talent through the use of in-house assessment centres.

Indeed, the 2017 CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey predicts that organisations “anticipate a greater focus on developing more talent in-house and an increase in focusing more on retaining rather than recruiting talent.”2

However, despite almost a fifth of organisations claiming that an assessment centre is one of their top 3 most used talent management activities, only 16% of organisations rated them as one of their top 3 most effective activities.3

So despite a desire to develop more talent in-house and the considerable investment in intensive talent identification processes, it appears that assessment centres just aren’t delivering the goods.  

So, What Isn't Working

Perhaps the assessment centre was implemented to take a snapshot of the talent pools within the organisation; a picture of where they are now rather than where they want to be.  That would give an interesting helicopter perspective but without clear communication and a proactive strategy about how to deal with the outcomes of the assessment process, the ‘So what?’ lingers unanswered and the assessment centre risks becoming inconsequential or worse still detrimental.

In my opinion most people are really nervous about assessment centres but if you could change that so when people go on an assessment centre they know that something really great will happen, that has the potential to be really powerful.

Establishing the ‘So what?’ upfront will ease the implementation of the assessment centre enabling organisations to focus on how to really leverage the results.  I believe there are three important considerations:

1. Integrate L&D Processes

Some organisations will be able to use the information they collect about people to make effective decisions about which developmental path is best for them, especially if they already have established high potential development programmes, leadership programmes, Partner tracks and others sorts of professional development readily available within their organisations.


2. Utilise Valuable Individualised Information

To truly leverage the high degree of information organisations have about their talent following an assessment centre, an equally bespoke development solution will be most effective.  In fact, the top ranking talent management activity according to the 2015 CIPD Learning and Development Survey was Coaching3; this is not surprising given it’s highly individualised nature. The combination of rich information from the assessment centre and personalised, outcome focused coaching has the power to revolutionise the assessment centre.

3. Take a Blended and Customised Approach - and cost effective too

Coaching is a fantastic solution that helps to inspire new possibilities and transform knowledge in to purposeful action however it doesn’t have to work in isolation.  Executive coaching programmes can provide the support needed for newly identified high potentials to face the challenges they will meet at the next level.  For developing talent, it can be used in conjunction with skills building programmes to help ensure that new insights, skills and knowledge is actively transferred into the day job and embedded over the longer term. 


The nature of coaching is flexible and can be driven by the needs of the individual and the organisation as well as integrating smoothly with other initiatives to materialise even better results. People often write off executive coaching programmes as too expensive but programmes that support other initiatives can regularly be delivered at 30-50% of the cost of a typical executive leadership programme.   In fact, it can actually be a relatively inexpensive way of leveraging the assessment centre and generating much higher levels of ROI.

If you have any questions and would like to talk to us in more detail about how we can help your team re-invent itself, please feel free to pick up the phone for a chat with one of the team. Just call +44 (0)1926 889 885.

Kind regards

Laura Ashley-Timms - Director of Coaching

1 Lewis, G (2015) Employers choose to hire external talent rather than train own staff, People Management
2 2017 CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey
3 2015 CIPD Learning and Development Survey

If you would like to be added to our FREE Fortnightly HR Tips Newsletter "Change Momentum" please fill out the form below. 

Save Detail Content