A powerful tool for making promotional decisions, an assessment center uses a series of simulated on-the-job challenges to gauge a candidate’s ability to perform the target job. Individual and group job simulations offer in-depth information and insight on an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance potential. The performance of candidates is evaluated by trained assessors, providing information unattainable from written tests, interviews or any other source.  Overall, an Assessment Center consists of a standardized evaluation of behavior based on multiple evaluations including: job-related exercises.  Job Simulations are used to evaluate candidates on behaviors relevant to the most critical aspects (or competencies) of the job.  Several trained observers and techniques are used. Judgments about behavior are made and recorded. These judgments are pooled in a meeting among the assessors or by an averaging process. In discussion among assessors, comprehensive accounts of behavior, often including ratings, are pooled. The discussion results in evaluations of the performance of the candidates on the dimensions or other variables. 

Today, the assessment center method is utilized in many police and fire departments across the country.  We recommend using the below five exercises and five dimensions. 

Here are some of our typical exercises:

Leaderless Group Exercise

The leaderless group discussion is a type of assessment center exercise where groups of applicants meet as a group to discuss an actual job-related problem. As the meeting proceeds, the behavior of the candidates is observed to see how they interact and what leadership and communications skills each person displays.  In our leaderless group exercises, we generally measure leadership, problem solving and analysis, and interpersonal dynamics.

Role Play Exercise

The role play exercise is a type of assessment center exercise where the candidate assumes the role of the incumbent of the position (i.e., Sergeant or Fire Captain) and must deal with another person in a job-related situation. A trained role player is used and responds "in character" to the actions of the candidate. Our role play exercises measure problem solving and analysis, interpersonal dynamics, and communications. 

Graphic Biography Exercise   

The graphic biography exercise is an opportunity for each candidate to “sell” themselves in a five-minute presentation.  This exercise is provided to the candidates approximately one week prior to the assessment center and they in turn prepare a PowerPoint presentation that is provided to our company in advance and set up for the candidate at the assessment center.  Candidates are encouraged to highlight their education, training, background experiences, examples of personal leadership experiences, as well as any other experience that they believe demonstrates that they are well-suited for the position.  The dimensions of leadership and oral communications are evaluated in this exercise.

Professional Interview Exercise

Candidates are asked a series of questions designed to measure leadership and problem solving and analysis.  Additionally, their overall oral communications skills are also evaluated and scored.  Questions generally range from nine to thirteen questions, depending on the rank.

Written Exercise

A specific topic related to the assessed position is provided to each candidate, whereas they write a comprehensive essay.  The candidates are provided computers (provided by the host agency) for them to construct their essay.  This hour-long exercise measures written communications and problem solving and analysis.

Overall, our assessment centers are comprised of the following exercises:

  • Leaderless Group Exercise
  • Written Exercise
  • Graphic Biography Exercise
  • Role Play Exercise
  • Professional Interview Exercise

Dimensions To Be Measured:

  • Leadership
  • Oral Communications
  • Written Communications
  • Problem Solving and Analysis
  • Interpersonal Dynamics

How the Candidates Benefit

We prepare all of the candidates with a pre-evaluation training session and conclude the assessment center with returning written candidate feedback from the assessors. This allows candidates to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to prepare themselves for future promotional opportunities. All candidates will receive the assessor feedback forms which is a personal and confidential evaluation of their performance, which includes observed personal strengths and weaknesses.

A Final Word

Finally, we stand ready to support the organization in any challenges to the process. We have years of experience in designing evaluation processes and assessment centers. We use only trained evaluators and subject matter experts. All materials are validated to applicable standards and local procedures/guidelines. If a challenge or testing appeal does arise, our staff will represent the process and participate in any necessary hearings. 

The final result will be a professional design and delivery of custom assessment of the candidates' skills and abilities. Not only is the most qualified person identified for the position, but candidates are also assisted in preparing for future opportunities while providing maximum liability protection to the organization.