Feedback on the 41st International Congress on Assessment Center Methods

By Dr Lydia Cillié-Schmidt

I have just attended the 41st International Congress on Assessment Center Methods (in partnership with the UK-assessment Centre Group) from 9 – 10 October 2018 and would like to highlight three of the sessions that I have attended. Earlier this year I wrote about the Global Leadership Forecast report by DDI, The Conference Board and EY and how useful I found the report in informing leadership development efforts. I was therefore quite interested in the presentation by Bill Byham (Executive Chairman of DDI) on how to use the insights from the report to fuel your Assessment Centre Strategy. Some of the statistics that he mentioned highlighted the need to approach leadership development differently. Of the leaders surveyed, 42% said that the overall quality of leadership in their organisations is high, while only 30% of HR professionals stated that the quality of overall leadership is high. Bill Byham expressed the view that assessment centres are under-rated, supported by the statistic that only 52% of the 2488 organisations surveyed use information from assessments and simulations to inform their leadership hiring and promotion decisions.

The presentation by Ben Hawkes from Shell (Evolve or Die: The future of Assessment Centres) was thought-provoking, with his main message that for assessment centres to survive, organisations must first clarify its value-add. He recommended that you first determine the value that the organisation wants to get from the assessment tools that it is using, for example: Selecting the right candidates, delivering a great candidate experience, delivering a great assessor experience, simple logistics, reducing time to hire and maximising the ratio of offer to acceptance. Once that has been determined, the organisation can decide what methods will deliver the best value. If assessment centres are not delivering this value better than other methods, it will not be chosen.

The presentation on “An alternative to personality questionnaires: Introducing Personality Tasks” was very interesting. Alan Howard and Max Choi from Quest Assessments who presented this positioned their approach as an effort to get a more objective measurement of personality than the self-reports that most personality assessments consist of. Instead of asking people questions to identify their personality preferences (and where they can fake good or bad), they give them Objective Personality Tasks (OPTs) and the way in which they then deal with the tasks tell something about their personality. This research is still in its infancy and more information can be found at

There were many more topics, such as the importance of the development process after the assessment centre, gamification, technology, ethics and guidelines in assessment centres. Unfortunately, it was impossible to attend every session. What I heard was however enough to get me exited again about the value that assessment centre technology can add to our leadership development efforts.