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  • Writer's pictureAustin Aloysius Tay

Are we being fair and judicious in the way we assess people in assessment and development centres?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023


Recently, I attended a talk where the speaker advocated using a working sample in assessment and development centres. The reason behind such a method is to ensure that the person is accurately assessed based on the actual work he will be performing instead of relying on general competencies that are often unrelated to the work.

He advocates that assessments need to be designed as a one-off and not just fitting individuals to one type of assessment (i.e. competencies dependent). Relying solely on work sample type of assessments, the onus now lies with the organisation to provide assessors who are experts in the areas of work to be assessed, and occupational psychologists will solely design the assessments.

To some practitioners, the designing of a one-off work sample focussed assessment might have its allure as such assessments can help organisations select and develop the right talent. Organisations will get exclusive and tailored assessments, although such a form of assessment is by no means a time-saving practice.

A few possible issues can surface when using this form of assessment. For e.g. coaxing organisations to deviate from competency-based assessments might prove to be arduous, especially when the use of competencies is so ingrained in most organisational structures. With organisations being careful about not overspending, a tailor-made work sample assessment might be a stretch too far for their purse strings.

Despite some of the possible constraints highlighted above, just as organisations vary in assessing individuals and their budgets, work sample assessment might be the way to go for some organisations. But how far such a form of assessment will gather momentum, especially in Asia, is yet to be seen and tested.

In my view, I believe, that to balance the concept of being valid in our way of assessing participants and ensuring that they are equitably assessed, a midway compromise needs to be adopted. That is to combine both work samples and competency-based assessments in assessment and development centres.

As practitioners or HR professionals, it is good to be exposed to different types of methods in assessing individuals at work. What matters is how you intend to apply such new methods to your work and how they will benefit your clients or organisation.


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