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Seb Anthony

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External assessment of management potential


One of our European subsidiaries wants to hire an external assessment company (big name with proprietary intellectual /psychological assessment instruments) to assess the potential promotion of a subject specialist into the head of a newly-created team for that function.

We currently do not have a formal internal assessment program, but I am not comfortable with this sub going external and paying 2000€ for a one-day assessment "test". My role is European org/people development . We do have competencies, and obviously we have been hiring people before without assessments. But I am new to the role and don't have a ready answer or solution to provide to them.

I am thinking that the reason they are looking to go external is either a)top mgmt are split if the guy is good enough so they want an external opinion to tip the balance or b) they are not comfortable with their own ability to assess this critical decision so they want a "proven" external partner or c) some other political reason.

My concern is if they go external, we send a message that we don't need to develop internal capability to assess potential promotions, and that it's ok to spend the money. Also, if they go wtih the external assessment, we are still in the position to implement a development plan. Plus, if the candidate is not assessed as capable of the job, we are spending a lot of money to send a disappointing message. Plus, I don't like the provider they have selected, and the deep psychological-based test and interview they use.

I am at a bit of a loss how to proceed: if I should suggest that they do the assessment themselves, or if I suggest another assessor (aligned with the leadership development direction I am installing) or if the guy meet with the European head of the function or some other approach. Or just let them go with the external and not worry about a one-off, and get working on building capability of our managers to conduct internal recruiting better. Suggestions, insights?

Amy Amann

One Response

  1. Assessment Design
    Hi Amy, this reminds me of a situation I found myself in some time ago.

    The appraoch I took was to desight an internal assessment. Once I had done a cost analysis on how much it would cost to bring in an external assessor v’s utilising our existing people there was no comparison. Plus, the materials that were developed could also be used for development centres and also the basis of our Performance Management Process (or at least the competencies).

    I had some real baggage about bringing in an external assessor as I knew for a fact that we had the internal capability of writing and delivering an assessment centre. I started out by questioning the senior management team on what they thought the benefits were of bringing in an external assessor V’s intrenal development and it was simply down to them thinking that they could hire to indusrty standard. This was proable true, but this standard isn’t to hard to find out. a quick call to a few non competitors to talk about their recruitment standards was enough to give me an idea of what great organisations were looking for.

    I took an approach bu where i involved the Senior Team in developing the Assessment Centre. We used the competencies we had, and agreed together what level of each competency the candidates should achive, then me and my team set about developing the assessment centre which included an interview, role play scenario, group exercise, presentation and some Phsycometric testing.

    I also carried out some development work with teh Senior Team and teh Recruitment team to align their skills and to ensure they were looking out for the same things. They also brushed up on their interviewing skills.

    The approach seems really simple, but by involving them from the begining, helping them to see that internal was always going to be better and reminding them that it was staff for our business that we we were recruiting for and they would have to work with the person helped this along.

    Happy to talk further about this, drop me a line at and I can send you over my details.

    Hope this helps

    Revolution Learning and Development


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