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Review: Assessment and Development Centres


Title: Assessment and Development Centres – 2nd Edition
Author: Iain Ballantyne and Nigel Povah
Publisher: Gower Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 0 566 08599 2
Reviewed by: Jo Lamb-White, Learning and Development Consultant

The first edition of Assessment and Development Centres was published in 1995. Not a long time in terms of progress per se but significant when we think about technology and its impact on almost everything we touch. This second edition provides additional guidance on technological improvements and how they can best serve Assessment and Development centres as well as new thoughts on quality control measures and process improvements.

The authors both have significant experience in the art of people assessment and have researched and challenged a number of assumptions which your average HR professional might take for granted. Like, for example, when you should use an assessment centre and justifying the cost right through to the simpler areas (but often ignored or forgotten) such as room allocation and briefing procedures.

This is a practical book aimed at a number of audiences from the expert specialist to the HR practitioner wishing to design an in-house approach. It is well thought out, running a logical sequence from start to finish, the chapters following a process from defining an assessment centre to design, planning and running the centre. Attention is also paid to the validation, evaluation and feedback mechanisms – all-important for demonstrating value for money and ensuring that the centre produces the desired outcomes.

More attention could have been given to the feedback individuals receive. Having organised and delivered a number of assessment centres, I have met candidates who find the whole process overwhelming and harrowing, particularly if this is their first time. Often issues of equality and diversity are raised and assessors need to be clear about the underlying principles of any centre they are participating in. A great deal of time should be taken to provide professional one to one feedback to minimise any negative impact upon individuals.

A number of relevant illustrations and diagrams are scattered throughout each chapter. These assist the reader to make sense of the research and evidence based approach, which the authors have successfully implemented and also provide a useful checklist for practitioners to follow. These illustrations also provide the framework for recording and analysing results gained from the centre. An appendix details the Best Practice Guidelines from the British Psychological Society provides a shortened guide of almost everything in the preceding chapters including an invaluable glossary for the less technical professionals.

This new addition also explores the differences between Assessment Centres and Development Centres and examines the enormous growth in interest that organisations have found for this method of measurement and comparison. A whole chapter is dedicated to key features, ongoing challenges and future prospects.

All in all this publication is informative, well researched and practical providing professionals and non-professionals with a good grounding in the realities of implementing Assessment and Development Centres. It will become a well thumbed publication who ever owns it.


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