5 steps to building an effective digital assessment centre

5 Steps to Building an Effective Digital Assessment Centre

First of all, you may ask, what even is a digital assessment centre

Digital (or virtual) assessments are often the final stage of the recruitment process, when candidates are brought into a virtual space either individually or as a group. And why? To be… well… assessed. On those unquantifiable skills that they have said they have, and that you really need.

The assessment might include anything from sessions with the moderator to case studies and presentations based on findings. Teamwork-oriented graduate schemes, for example, might conduct assessments focused on bringing different candidates together in groups to see how well they work as part of a team and how comfortable they are with assuming leadership when needed.

The process should last no longer than half a day, and is conducted via an online platform onto which the candidates and the moderator sign in.

But how do you make sure that everything runs smoothly on the day of? Here are our 5 tips for building an effective digital assessment centre.

1. Do proper research

What are some scenarios that your candidates will likely come across while working for you? What are some effective ways to prepare them for these?

You might want to look into similar companies, read case studies, and draw upon previous experiences that you and your company have had. What are some common themes that arise? And what skills do they require? What abilities do you need your candidates to have, but cannot measure? All of these will serve as a great starting point in building a virtual assessment centre, and deciding on the different kinds of programmes you will need as part of it.

And once you have a good idea of what the assessment will look like, it is worth running a demo. Invite some current employees to participate in the digital assessment centre, and later ask them to fill out a questionnaire giving feedback. This will help you figure out what works, and what needs more work.

2. Pick your poison, and make sure it function

By your poison, of course, we mean your platform. Does your camera never work properly on Teams? Do you just hate the Zoom backgrounds? Well, it’s a good thing you get to pick where the assessment will be conducted, then.

An important point here is to make sure that the programme you have designed fits the platform that you will be using. If the assessment centre makes use of breakout rooms, for example, you will need a platform particularly efficient at breakout rooms.

And once you’ve picked your platform, double check that it works for you. And on the day of the assessment, go ahead and triple check. And of course, make sure that you are in a place with strong wifi signal and that you will not be experiencing any unforeseen connection issues.

It's also wise to communicate with the IT department in advance of the day to let them know that you will be conducting an online assessment centre. This not only prevents them from planning any maintenance for that timeframe, but also informs them that you might need additional help with candidates who are struggling to log in.

3. Provide the candidates as much information as needed

You think you’re nervous? Think of the poor candidates waiting to log onto an online platform trying to preserve normalcy as they fight for a position they really want!

This is to say, make sure you send your candidates as much information as they might need prior to the day of the assessment. The best way to do this is to prepare information sheets to be mailed out well in advance, containing login information, brief overviews of the ‘rooms’ they will be participating in, an outline of the timeline and any breaks, and anything they might want to bring.

Make sure you specify that you are available over email or via a call to discuss any questions that the candidates might have prior to the assessment.

4. Keep it short and sweet

Yes, digital fatigue is a thing. And it’s no fun. As useful as virtual assessment centres can be, they can also be draining. Without any in-person contact, candidates might find it difficult to be their best selves on camera or to limit distractions within their own homes.

The best way around this is to keep the assessment as short and efficient as possible. There is no need to have 3 variations of the same case study, or to ask for 40-minute-long presentations from each candidate. If anything, it will be even better to see how well they work under time pressure and how well they can condense their ideas into a concise argument.

Also try limiting on-camera time, and allowing your candidates individual time to focus on their own tasks. This does not mean you are giving them breaks, but rather that you are allowing them to conduct research on their own time. Once everyone is back in the assessment centre, you will be able to tell who has been most efficient at using the tools at their disposal to prepare for the next stage.

5. Questions welcome

Allowing questions and feedback throughout and after the digital assessment centre is a not only a great way to encourage informal communication that will put the candidates at ease, but also to gain better understanding of what may or may not be working.

Try having a chatbox where each candidate can communicate directly with the moderator without having to interrupt the session. Having lines of communication can be the difference between overwhelmed participants and calm ones. Also, do you find yourself getting an influx of questions about a certain aspect of the assessment? Perhaps it’s time to revise this.

A quick, 2-minute survey after the virtual assessment can seem insignificant but can give you great insight into whether the programme was a good experience for the candidates.

And remember, digital assessment centres aren’t meant to feel like a chore! By making them enjoyable experiences, you can increase success rates with candidates displaying their best selves.

Not every process has to be created and curated manually by you. Peoplise Casebot helps you create an engaging online assessment center experience

Casebot offers a variety of interaction opportunities for you to assess your candidates’ competencies and situational judgment. Simulate real-life experiences over videos, e-mails, scheduling and prioritization activities, and other interactive exercises to offer an engaging, challenging, and rigorous experience. All while saving you time, resources, and money."