Sullivan Business Psychologists

What Are The Stages Of The Assessment Process ?

In practical terms, there are five main stages to an Assessment:

  1. Establishing a Framework for the Assessment
  2. Initiating a Particular Assessment
  3. The Assessment Day
  4. The Psychological Assessment Report
  5. Feedback and Managerial Review Meeting

Establishing a Framework for the Assessment

Prior to undertaking any assessments for a client, we work with their top management to ensure a sound common understanding of the business’s vision and strategies, the prevailing values, culture and climate in which the candidate will be working. This is crucial in determining the kind of person likely to fit into that particular organisation.

Secondly, we ensure agreement on:

The Job competency profile: the competencies needed if the job-holder is to perform outstandingly well.

The team and organisational profile: the compatibility factors that are predictive of the individual’s capacity to work well within the team and within the prevailing values and culture of that business.

Initiating a Particular Assessment

Over and above arranging the date and venue, we require the candidate to do some preparation for the Assessment. See the web-site page “Preparation”.

The Assessment Day

The interview: The individual is interviewed in some depth. Usually this begins with a discursive exploration of the individual’s present situation in order better to understand the nature of the transition the individual may be moving through, and the key issues to be dealt with. We review the individual’s career history to understand how their career has evolved and what has been the nature of the high points, the successes and failures, satisfactions and disappointments.

We then focus in depth on their work experience. We explore their thinking and behavioural approach towards the business, towards formulating strategies, and towards operationally driving them through. Our aim is to identify the nature of the competencies, the motivation and resilience that individual brings to bear when making things happen and their learning from their reverses.

We encourage the candidate to look at the earlier periods of their life in order to gain a better understanding of those underlying and deeper motivational issues that are powerful determinants of their work behaviour. Life out of work is explored: we talk about the interaction between work and home, as well as about the strengths they show and satisfactions they derive from non-occupational activities.

We talk through longer-term career aspirations, the strategies being followed to realise them, and what blocks or obstacles may lay in their path.

Thus the interview is an opportunity and a challenge to the individual to reflect upon and to articulate their experiences to date, to explore their own motives and abilities. Most people find the process of simply talking it all through quite helpful in itself.

Indeed, the opportunity to talk through in length and depth one’s career is rare for most of us; at best it can be a voyage of discovery, as much for the individual as for the psychologist.

Questionnaires and Tests: The individual takes a variety of exercises either in the material presented before the day or during the course of the day itself.

These are designed to explore:

  • Reasoning, whether verbal, numerical or abstract
  • Creative or lateral thinking
  • Personality
  • Motivation
  • Psychological type
  • Interpersonal style

The battery of exercises will be varied according to the particular job or to an individual’s particular needs.

Each of the exercises is explained in advance. There are no tricks to them; nor are they mysterious or threatening. They are intended to generate a wide diversity of behaviours so that, as far as possible, the judgments made during the course of the assessment have a diversity and richness of evidence to support them.

The Psychological Assessment Report

The client company receives a written report which covers all the assessment findings, summarises the individual’s “Primary Strengths and Primary Limitations” and their “Development Needs”. We prefer to send the report out to the client a few days before the feedback session.

Feedback and Review Meeting

Feedback to the individual

We are committed to the value of the feedback to the individual. We make the fundamental assumption that most executive development is self-development. If we can help the individual enhance their self-understanding we also enable them to be more proactive in ensuring their own competence in the new job, in developing themselves appropriately and in identifying an appropriate career path.

At the feedback session the psychologist shows the individual all the data and profiles from the various instruments. We then go through the report in detail.

For many individuals the assessment affirms and underscores a great deal of what they subjectively believe about themselves. In itself, this can be confirming and enhancing of an individual’s self-confidence. Although some 80 per cent of the information will be confirmatory (self-knowledge is a major factor in explaining why people succeed) there will be other areas that will be unexpected, which a person may normally not choose to focus on, or be aware of, and with which the individual may not agree. But it is important that these differences of perception are talked through and the individual appreciates the basis for the judgements made.

The ‘Managerial Review’ Meeting with the individual and their direct superior

A joint discussion between the individual, their direct superior and the psychologist follows the individual’s feedback session. It is essential the direct superior has had time to review the report carefully prior to this review session. Its purpose is to talk through the “so what” of the psychological assessment, to agree upon ways of enhancing the individual’s competence and commitment, and to ensure a productive working relationship between the individual and their direct superior.

The assessor “facilitates” this session. The review focuses on five main themes – confirmations and surprises in the report, the primary strengths, the working relationship with the boss, development needs and future career aspirations.

Confirmation and Surprises and Primary Strengths: It is helpful to start the session by asking the individual to share with the boss their overall impression of the report. That inevitably leads them to seize on points where they see themselves differently from the way they have been presented. Invariably people pick up limitations rather than strengths. People rarely deny the validity of strengths! Invariably the boss can bring helpful insights.

A valuable benefit, with a candidate who has already been in the business for some while, is that the session enables the boss to say some of the things that he or she has felt but never quite expressed before.

Motivation and the Boss relationship: In the light of the recommendations in the report to a boss in managing that individual the assessor facilitates an exploration of their current working relationship. That discussion invariably widens onto other things the boss might do more of or less of as well as how the individual needs to flex. This part of the review discussion is particularly useful to a newly appointed person: it helps ensure the relationship is on a sure and open footing from the outset.

Development needs: The report contains suggestions on the prime development needs. There may be other needs to be added. Clarity is sought on the urgent needs and what are important but are better addressed in the medium term. Of course, development solutions to those agreed development needs have to be found. Often the HR function provides a valuable follow-through in this regard.

Longer-term career aspirations: Though not always coming to firm conclusions on the candidate’s longer-term career plan at this meeting, it is helpful to surface aspirations, to explore what those expectations might be, how realistic, how bold or even understated.

In an overall sense, this review meeting serves brings to the surface the necessary action to ensure the selection or promotion decision is a success.

Comments are closed.