Question: The few hours of a typical management audit are not enough to get to know a person and experienced manager in his or her entire complexity. How can you justify such an approach?
Answer: A half-day or full-day procedure indeed does not suffice to cover a person in his or her entire and complex personality. We can assume that an entire life would not be enough. Nonetheless, it makes sense to invest some more effort than “only” considering past performance or conducting haphazard interviews when it comes to mitigating the risks of important staffing decisions (poor appointments are often not only a nuisance for both sides, but costly for the employer and of existential importance for employees). Anticipating relevant future tasks and duties (that might not have played much of a role in your career to date) in the simulation exercises of a management appraisal opens up more perspectives to shore up the decision-making process for all parties concerned and minimize the risks of a flawed decision.
Question: Are assessment procedures methodologically valid? There are many critical voices.
Answer: Assessment centres are not standard, patented procedures. There are good and bad providers. One can assume that the multi-modal approach that should be used in such procedures will produce the most meaningful and valid results that exceed the validity of individual procedures. A word of caution: the many indiscriminate procedures available in the market that promise to produce more useful results with much less effort should be treated with more than a pinch of salt.
Question: Will I be informed about the results of the audit? Which results will the client receive and which will I be given?
Answer: It is standard practice to give the participant first, admittedly “sketchy” feedback at the end of the procedure, which concentrates on the immediate strengths and weaknesses or opportunities and risks and his or her unique success factors and needs for development. In most projects, a comprehensive report will be drawn up after the end of the audit. This report will include a profile of your results, a detailed summary of the observations, a comparison of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommendations for HR development or on-boarding (often distinguishing by “autodidactic study”, “training”, “coaching”, and “supervisor’s support”). Some projects also ask for a shorter management summary (often in the form of so-called one-pagers for the busy reader). These will include the same statements that are given in the long reports, only expressed in a more condensed format. Frequently, additional information of relevance for the client’s management and the decision-making process are also included. For instance, aggregate portfolios for all or multiple candidates are collated from the individual reports. The personal data of other candidates can, of course, not be disclosed to the participants.
Question: My track record of successes and experience should be sufficient proof of my capabilities. Why should I be required to take part in a procedure that seems more suited to school leavers?
Answer: An intensive, discursive exploration of your biography indeed reveals many relevant aspects of competence. Nonetheless, research has proven repeatedly that the additional use of other appraisal techniques leads to a more comprehensive impression that can reduce the risks of a poor decision.