Evaluating Job Applicants Through Assessment Centers

Topic(s): selection
Publication: Personnel Psychology (2011)
Article: Exercises and Dimensions are the Currency of Assessment Centers
Authors: B.J. Hoffman, K.G. Melchers, C.A. Blair, M. Kleinmann, R.T. Ladd
Reviewed by: Thaddeus Rada

Assessment centers (ACs) remain a popular, and often effective, way for organizations to evaluate candidates, both in hiring and promotion settings. One choice that confronts users of assessment centers concerns the type of information that is gathered about candidates. A traditional practice with ACs has been to use multiple exercises to measure multiple job-relevant dimensions of candidate performance. However, some research has suggested that task-performance ratings are a more effective way to assess candidates. Some authors have even advocated for the abandonment of dimension ratings in AC practice.


Taking these differing perspectives into account, Brian Hoffman and colleagues conducted a study to identify a model that would effectively describe the structure of AC ratings. In their study, Hoffman et al. developed and tested a structure for assessment center ratings that included one general performance factor, as well as multiple broad performance dimensions and multiple exercise ratings.


The authors suggest that the results of their work provide a framework by which future ACs might be evaluated. They also argue that their results demonstrate the continued effectiveness of using dimensions in ACs, suggesting that it is unwise to discontinue their use.


Hoffman, B. J., Melchers, K. G., Blair, C. A., Kleinmann, M., & Ladd, R. T. (2011). Exercises and dimensions are the currency of assessment centers. Personnel Psychology, 64, 351-395.

Image credit: istockphoto/Ivan-balvan