Thank Goodness – Guidelines on Assessment Centers!

Topic(s): assessment

Topic: Assessment Centers

Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (SEP 2009)

Article: Guidelines and ethical considerations for assessment center operations

Authors: International Task Force on Assessment Center Guidelines

Reviewed by: Jared Ferrell


The ethical guidelines for assessment centers were first published in 1975 out of a need for standards for those using assessment centers.  They have been revised over the years since their initial publication with 4 main goals in mind: (1) to give guidance to psychologists and/or practitioners who use assessment centers; (2) to provide information to those thinking about implementing assessment centers in their organizations; (3) to give instruction to those who serve on the staff of an assessment center; and (4) to give some guidance in terms of the use of technology in assessment centers.  The numerous revisions over the years came about because of new issues that have arisen since 1975.  Some examples of issues that prompted the latest revision include technology in assessment centers, the need for more detailed guidelines about training assessors, and the issue of assessment centers for multinational organizations, as well as methodological differences among these centers that are used for different purposes. 

The rest of this review will cover the general format of these guidelines, including a bit about the content throughout them.  The basic format of the guidelines is that they are broken down into 12 sections, in which:

·  Section One deals with the purpose of the guidelines.

·    Section Two addresses the history of the guidelines, covering the different revisions over the years, along with what issues predicated each revision.

·  Section Three defines assessment centers and gives the nine essential elements that must be in place to be considered an assessment center. 

·  Section Four gives examples of things that are not assessment center activities, but sometimes are considered as such. 

·     Section Five discusses the need for a policy statement when assessment centers are introduced into organizations.

·     Section Six takes a very in-depth look at the training of assessors.  This section is one that has been revised and added to in almost every revision from the original until now. 

·    Section Seven explains that participants of assessment centers need to be informed about the program in writing before they begin, and preferably before they show up at the assessment center. 

·     Section Eight deals with validity, and has an updated section in this revision dealing with validity generalization. 

·     Section Nine addresses differences that can exist between assessment centers that are used for different purposes, and gives examples of some different purposes these centers can serve.

·     Section Ten links back to Section Seven, and further addresses the rights of assessment center participants (e.g., their right to receive feedback depending on their situation).

·    Section Eleven is a new section for this revision. It helps confront the issues concerning multinational organizations and their responsibilities to modify assessment centers depending on cultural differences in places in which the assessments will take place. 

·     Section Twelve gives specific national guidelines for assessment centers located in South Africa, Germany, and Indonesia.  

Link to Guidelines: Guidelines and ethical considerations for assessment center operations.