7 Great Tips for Virtual Recruitment Assessment Centres

May 14, 2020

Has Coronavirus forced the pace of change? Probably. Perhaps the old adage, ‘there is always a silver lining’, is pertinent now in how we think about recruitment and selection methodologies in the immediate term and for the future.

Early indications from our experience of organisations being forced to conduct assessments for recruitment remotely suggest that organisations are indeed embracing the opportunities afforded.

Inevitably there are hurdles to overcome – is Zoom secure, for example – but we have consistently faced challenges in our working lives as HR professionals and line managers. What we are facing now is reminiscent of moving to on-line psychometric testing from paper and pencil administration, where there were understandable fears that the validity of the results might be compromised. It was only a few years ago that the Civil Service made this shift and it reaped huge benefits in terms of being able to use time more productively and reducing the strain on meeting room availability.

The candidate experience

A key consideration is how the candidate feels during a virtual assessment centre versus being physically present with other candidates and the recruiting organisation’s colleagues. Are there any implications for being able to perform to the best of their ability and showcase their skills accurately? There is nothing to suggest this would be the case, and in fact the picture is positive so far. Psychonnaissance is currently gathering feedback from candidates on their experience and collating the findings so that we can continually evolve the virtual assessment centre model.

Virtual assessment centres take away the often stressful experience of travelling to an unfamiliar venue. In addition, the breaks in the timetable are probably better quality, with candidates able to truly use the time to refresh themselves and prepare for the next exercise.

What about for the organisation?

There are inevitable advantages in terms of reducing venue hire costs and generally being able to work in a more agile way. Running an assessment centre is a resource intensive business with many line managers and often external stakeholders giving up their time to help. It also avoids the age-old, emotive issue of car parking!

The flexibility that comes with running assessment centres virtually opens up the possibility of being more flexible on a bigger scale; instead of running a full day, the different elements could feasibly be run across two or more dates, thus better accommodating those with diary restrictions. For example, a stakeholder panel exercise could be run on a separate date from the interview panel’s availability. Anyone involved in putting together an assessment centre will be familiar with the challenges of securing the availability of everyone, especially when there are multiple stakeholders and senior leaders involved. 

7 great tips for consideration when setting up a virtual recruitment assessment centre

We plan to keep reviewing the use of virtual assessment centres so that we can better support organisations. Here are our top tips so far:

  • Adapt the event management role but do not remove it – it is still vitally important to have a professional event manager oversee the proceedings
  • Test the technology of all client-side participants at least 24 hours in advance
  • Have contingency plans in place for interruptions to internet connectivity
  • Make candidates aware who will be ‘present’ at any one time, including other candidates. Be clear about confidentiality expectations and the dress code!
  • Have multiple modes of communication – email and mobile as well as the chosen technology such as Teams or Zoom
  • Plan the administration of the different exercises; role-plays, written exercises, presentations etc. and give clear instructions. For example, is it permissible to surf the internet during a task?
  • Consider supervision/observation of tasks where candidates may be advantaged by being able to access documents at home, particularly when creating a level playing field between internal and external candidates

Contact us to talk about your virtual recruitment assessment needs today.

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Psychonnaissance is based in the South-West, but with easy access to all the major cities via Bristol airport and the national rail network, we regularly work with clients up and down the UK.