Whether you have a complex Assessment Center or just one or two components of an Assessment Center, the concept works for you. It allows you to demonstrate what you can do, and forces others to do so as well. That gives you the same chance as someone who is glib but not skillful, or slick but not knowledgeable.
How a Police Assessment Center Works
Exercises: The concept of an Assessment Center is to provide multiple techniques (exercises) in which you participate while being observed or having your work examined by several trained assessors–usually from outside your organization.
The panel: You may wish you had your friends or those who know you, on the panel–but think about the increase in fairness for all, when what is rated is what the candidate can actually do, rather than what people think he or she can do or wish he or she would do. Most of us have enough issues to live down that it is preferable to be able to show what we know, rather than fighting an uphill battle against a negative feeling going in.
Assessors are trained before the process to understand the differences between your behavior and their opinion. They are usually scrupulously honest about keeping those separate. That also works for you.
Notes about your behaviors: The assessors will take notes about all of your behaviors (what you say and do and how you say and do it, and the thought processes you express about it). Then, they will link those behaviors to the competencies that have been identified for the job. Those should be no surprise, even if you are not told specifically what they are.
Competencies: If you wonder what compentencies you should demonstrate, check the job description, or just think about it: Communcations skills, problem solving and decision making, job knowledge, role readiness, interpersonal skills, planning and organizing and professional development are among the most obvious. Everything else will probably fit within those, whatever they are called in your process. For example, leadership, flexibility, conflict resolution, community knowledge or team building, all can fit within those basics.
Linking notes to competencies: The assessors hear you, see you or read what you have written. They take notes, based on what they know to be significant, because of their knowledge and experiences in the rank you have and the rank above you (what they probably are right now). They link those notes to the competencies and decide what supports those competencies and what would detract from them.
Your rating in each competency and for the whole exercise: Then, they give you a rating, usually from 1-10, to reflect their judgment about how well you demonstrated the competencies from the viewpoint of the role you seek. 0-4 is usually low, 5-7 is usually acceptable, 8-9 is usually excellent, 10 is usually considered outstanding.
You are not assessed about the role you have. Rather, about the role you seek. You must demonstrate that you can do the work of the rank you seek, not that you are doing well at your current work. In addition, assessors don’t rate you based on whether they like you, just on how you demonstrate competencies. Ironically, we used to complain about in-house interviews for promotions, and now I hear officers say they don’t like Assessment Centers and want to go back to in-house interviews! Those are usually officers who think they deserve a higher rating. But we all think we deserve a higher rating!
The book I think you should read over and over until you can apply it in your sleep: My book on preparing for police Assessment Centers, A Preparation Guide To The Assessment Center Method, has been helpful for thousands of officers, based on the sales and the wonderful emails I receive. Check it out at Amazon. If you have read it and found it useful, please write a review. Or, link to me in your own website or blog, so others can have the information. (I’m finding that to very helpful.)
The process works. However you prepare for your Assessment Center, remember this: The process, as it was developed, works. How your organization implements it might be problematic, but if a professional company produces it, you can feel very confident about its fairness and effectiveness.
Of course, I remind people of what Paul Whisenand, an AC developer and police author, said: “We identify people who have the basic skills to be effective in the role. It’s up to the organization to make sure they live up to their capabilities.” Very true!
Keep in touch about your promotional process plans!