Assessment Center FAQs

Questions Frequently Asked by Assessment Center Participants:

What is the objective of the Assessment Center?

The objective of the Assessment Center is to gain valid data and reliable insights on your current management skills in order to help you go farther, faster. This is accomplished by simultaneously assessing and developing your management skills in preparation for promotion. If you are already sure you want to pursue a management career (or the next step in your management career), the assessment gives you a realistic time frame and a customized road map for developing those skills most efficiently. For others, the Assessment Center provides a realistic “dry run” to let you try on the manager or manager-of-managers role before committing even more significant time and resources in that pursuit.

How does the Assessment Center work?

The Assessment Center is a method, not a place, and consists of a series of management simulation exercises that are designed to simulate various aspects of management and professional responsibilities. In each center, you are a member of a small group that participates in the simulation activities and are observed by a team of observers who relate behaviors seen during the exercises to important leadership competencies.

During these activities, each of the observers records and categorizes behaviors for various participants. Over the course of the program, you will have the chance to be observed by several of the observer team members in various exercises. After each exercise, the observer rates you on certain competencies. These ratings are based solely on observed behavior and are standardized through the use of behaviorally-anchored competency evaluation guides.

The observers spend several additional days in discussion and evaluation of the observed behaviors of each participant as they related to the various competencies. They pool their information and arrive at a final rating on each competency. They also prepare a comprehensive report, including a series of developmental recommendations.

Why would I want to participate in such a program? What are the benefits to me?

The Assessment Center is for people who like to learn…because in the process of having your management skills tested, you will learn faster than any other method of development available.

The Assessment Center is for people who do not like to waste time…because your new development plan will be uniquely targeted to your strengths and developmental needs.

The Assessment Center is for people who want to go farther and get there faster…because by attending a PCI Assessment Center, you will get a realistic view of your readiness and an effective path to get you to the next level and succeed sooner when you get there.

The Assessment Center is for leaders who do not mind taking a little risk for a lot of reward…because you will be observed by professionals and receive detailed feedback on a job you may not even be doing yet.

The Assessment Center is for great managers of aspiring managers…because they will get deeper insights, time-saving advice, and specific direction on how to best help their subordinates prepare for their next-level job.

The Assessment Center is for people who like to take charge of their careers…because while the PCI Assessment Center is the best fast start you can get, a successful experience is up to you to maximize with a learning mindset and ongoing proactive use of the results.

The Assessment Center is not for everyone, but it is for everyone who wants a road map to success.

What are the advantages of the Assessment Center approach?

  • Several observers make the evaluation, not just one.
  • Observers are trained in objective evaluation techniques.
  • The evaluation is made on your abilities to perform tasks important to effective leadership functioning.
  • You are evaluated on behaviors in several situations, both as an individual and as a member of a group.
  • Judgments are based on a consensus decision.
  • Many validity studies have been conducted on the Assessment Center method, demonstrating that it provides a valid means of evaluating leadership competencies.

Why would my employer use an assessment program?

Organizations depend on more than technology for their ongoing success; they depend on talented people, a continuous supply of associates who are ready to hit the ground running as managers. The objective of the Assessment Center is to gain valid data and reliable insights on your current management skills to help you – and your organization – go farther, faster. So it is critical to use the most rigorous and accurate methods available to assess and develop future leaders.

Is this program used for assessment or development?

Both! It’s a snapshot of current management skills and a slingshot to get your performance to the next level. As a snapshot, your management behaviors will be observed and objectively rated in each exercise to get an overall clear picture of what you already do well at the next job level and what needs improvement to be successful there. As a slingshot, you will immediately benefit from the experiential learning system, and if you maintain a learning mindset, that process will continue for many months – even years.

Are the results accurate?

The Assessment Center method has been widely studied over many years. The most famous research of this kind (conducted by AT&T) found that high Assessment Center performers were promoted twice as far, twice as fast.

Assessment Center results over the past 50 years have continued to demonstrate the highest correlation to success of any single performance prediction method – .65 correlation coefficients for Assessment Centers versus .19 for interviews.

PCI’s own research has consistently shown that our method provides a valid measure of leadership performance (at the 99% confidence level); these studies used salary and performance reviews as metrics for success.

What are some typical management simulation exercises?

  • Leaderless group discussion
  • Feedback and coaching exercise
  • Peer negotiation exercise
  • Annual performance appraisal session
  • Inbox exercise
  • Analytical case study

What positions are typically targeted in the simulations?

  • First line manager
  • Manager of managers
  • Executive-level positions

How long is an Assessment Center?

  • 1 to 3 days, depending on the number of exercises

What competencies are typically measured?

Your company’s competency model, or standard management competencies such as:

  • Leadership/influencing
  • Problem analysis/problem solving
  • Decision making/judgment
  • Planning/organizing
  • Work management/delegation and follow-up
  • People skills/sensitivity
  • Stress tolerance/self-control
  • Communication (oral/written)

How is feedback provided?

During the Assessment Center:

  • In order to provide you with some immediate behavioral feedback during the Assessment Center, PCI makes a video recording of one of the one-on-one exercises.
  • The assessor who observed the exercise meets with you (in a private session) and reviews the recording, stopping frequently to discuss both effective and ineffective strategies. The assessor provides feedback in a direct, yet supportive, manner.
  • You are actively involved in the process and are able to see your behavioral patterns.

After the Assessment Center:

  • A private telephone feedback session is conducted with you by one of the observers. During this session, the observer provides a summary of your performance in key skill areas and makes specific recommendations on your continuing development.
  • Through this intensive feedback, you learn how well you made decisions, interacted with others, handled conflicts, and shared information.
  • The observer conducting the feedback helps you focus on your individual areas of needed improvement and assists in devising strategies for addressing these development needs. With this information, you can begin to implement a plan for self-development.

What are the benefits to the organization?

  • Accelerates the developmental process
  • Identifies leadership talent
  • Provides a tool for managers to use in developing high potentials
  • Demonstrates commitment to career development and improves retention

Why PCI?

  • PCI has been assessing and development leadership talent since 1953.
  • PCI has assessed over 88,000 individuals.
  • PCI provides ongoing customization of programs.
  • PCI’s expert staff are highly trained, experienced, and committed.
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