A full and detailed look at Candidate capabilities
An Assessment Center is a day-long, multi-exercise, regimen suitable for Promotional Candidates in which a team of three experienced examiners come to your site and administer usually three or four of the following exercises to your Candidates. It generates the most comprehensive, real-time, real-stress, realistic look at Candidates under the types of changing circumstances and pressures that present themselves in the job - from daily In-Basket, to Employee Problem Role Play, to Command of a Major Incident.
Final Reports are generated that report eight Dimensions of Candidate Capability, four Tactical and four Managerial.
A team of three examiners comes to your site and administers several exercises to all Candidates. They bring everything with them, exercises, scoring templates, instructions, materials, even lodging and local transportation. All you have to provide is venue - usually three classroom sized rooms with the capability of isolating one of them from all communications, in or out.
Customers select usually three or four of the following six exercises, and within each exercise type, there is a selection of actual scenarios from which customers can select their preference.
Candidates sit down at a desk and find fifteen or twenty messages, memos, reports, etc., in their in-basket. They are instructed to deal with all items efficiently and to greatest effect. They are graded on several parameters, such as checking all phone messages first, in case any are urgent, checking all items first before beginning detail work on any one, taking each item as far as it can be taken before having to leave a message or issue a request, etc.
Candidates are instructed to create a memo, or report, or news release, etc., based on certain input documents and notes provided by the Mayor, the Chief, possibly some citizen's group, etc. They are judged on responsiveness to instructions, quality of the communication, effectiveness, appropriateness of language for the audience, etc.
Candidates are assigned to deal with an employee on a sensitive issue requiring capable interpersonal skills, knowledge of Department policy, strength of character, and poise in a management function. It may be a suspected substance abuse situation, theft, possibly workplace harassment, etc. Actor is instructed in detail on when to oppose, cooperate, open up or clam up depending on Candidate actions. Candidates are graded in two broad areas: how well they implement the Department policy that pertains to the situation, and how well they reach out to and interact with this human employee.
Candidates present an assigned topic to a specified audience. Depending on rank being tested, it may be Stop, Drop, and Roll to pre-schoolers, or a proposal to a local government body to implement an ALS capability in the fire department. It could be an information release dealing with a sensitive issue to the media. Candidates are judged on appearance, demeanor, appropriateness of manner, language, content, and delivery, as well as effectiveness of the presentation and overall media relations impact on the Department.
This is a real-time, evolving, tactical scenario - either played out over radio, or by other means of presentation such as projector or handouts with narrative. Candidates will have a usual complement of resources and receive patchy, perhaps contradicting, information, at first, gradually augmented as more information comes in. This may be an MCI, a haz-mat incident, act of terrorism, apartment fire, etc. They are polled at several points throughout the process as to, "What would you do now? What are you considering, but NOT doing now? Why not?"
Not all these scenarios have positive endings - they are quite realistic in the sudden, intense, stresses they can impose, requiring immediate decisions with incomplete information.
Candidates are graded, broadly, on composure, capability, and effectiveness under pressure.
Simulating a department head meeting, Candidates are assigned as a group of six or eight, to generate a proposal to deal with a given circumstance. Candidates are instructed to give their full diligence to evaluating the ideas of others, while contributing some ideas of their own. They are judged on their contribution to the overall goal of the group - that is, how well they spot flaws or problems in others' ideas, how tactfully or kindly they point them out, but don't let them go by just to keep the peace, as well as what they contribute on their own, indicating their degree of thoughtfulness about both the subject and the outcome of the group's efforts. They are not credited for attempting to take over, lead, or dominate the meeting.
Examiners are seasoned, experienced Chief Officers, Instructors, and others, similarly qualified, serving or retired, who know all the lingo, tactics, tricks of the trade, bluffs, and acceptable alternate strategies. One of the most powerful features of this process is that our Examiners are professionally trained in conducting Assessment Centers and don't know anyone involved, including you the customer.
This feature ensures objectivity. Chiefs brought in from neighboring departments may very well know you, even be friends, from conferences, mutual aid meetings, etc. Challenges to objectivity can be tough to disprove when people from nearby are used as Examiners.