2.Concept and role of the AC
3.The AC cycle
3.1.Compilation of a requirement profile
3.2.Development of the exercise instruments
3.3.The individual test procedures
3.3.1.Individual test procedures
3.3.4.Computer supported test procedures
3.4.Follow-up and feedback
3.4.1. Observation group
4.1.General personal rights
4.1.1.Extent of protection of the general personal rights
4.1.2.Employers right to question
4.1.3.Consent of the applicants
4.2.1.Legitimacy of the data acquisition
4.2.2.Duty of notification
4.3 Involvement rights of the works council / briefing of the executive committee
4.3.1.The decision to execute an AC
4.3.2.The decision on the assortment of participants
4.3.3.Involvement of the executive employee committee
Assessment Centre procedures (AC-procedures) are widely used as a target orientated business personnel applicant selection method, and are deployed in larger, and increasingly in medium scale companies. Whilst the currently available literature on this particular topic mainly covers the personnel policy and psychological aspects such as development, implementation and usage of AC procedures, but also strategies, tasks, exercises and the prognostic validity, the legal implications of conducting recruitment tests have hardly been looked into. However, it is especially in conjunction with individual and collective employment legislation implications and also under the legal aspects of data protection that the planning and implementation of an AC raises a number of different questions for human resources representatives in practice.
The reason for the increase in the use of an AC could have to do with the fact that the AC procedure offers advantages for both parties, which means for the employing company and also for the job applicant. First of all it is a contemporary instrument of personnel policy that is superior to the conventional application procedures (evaluation of the application forms, job interview, psychology tests, biographical questionnaire etc.) as far as validity, reliability and objectivity are concerned.
Through the combination of a number of different procedures, the AC tests prove a high degree of validity as far as the measurement of the actual suitability of the applicant is concerned, as well as a high level of accuracy and objectivity. But above all, they are highly transparent and offer the participants a good insight into, and comprehension of the procedures. Secondly, the advantages of an AC test, for the individual applicant, lie in the fact that it can reveal relevant statements about their potential, and give the applicant the assurance, because of the extra aptitude tests to see if they can do the job in question, that their abilities and aptitudes are in line.
This paper will first of all outline exactly what an Assessment-Centre is, what characteristics it has, when and under what circumstances it is appropriate to implement and what exactly takes place. With this as a basis, we will be looking at the legal implications of an AC procedure in great detail, and what one needs to consider legally when conducting such a test.
Thereby it is basically all about the question of exactly to what level the general personal rights and the human dignity of the participants are affected, what co-determination rights the works council have when introducing and conducting aptitude tests and what data protection rights implications do aptitude tests have. A final summery will conclude this paper.
2. Concept and role of the AC
The AC is a systematic method of evaluation for employee selection. It is used to determine performance productivity or performance deficits in a qualified manner and is applied by multiple observers simultaneously for a number of participants, with regard to predefined requirements (Preis, 2009, § 20 IV 3.).
Sometimes the AC procedure uses German terms such as Eignungsverfahren, Einstellungsverfahren, Mitarbeiterentwicklungsprogramm, Personalentwicklungsseminar, Management-Leistungszentrum, Gruppenauswahlverfahren, Förderseminar etc. But these terms haven’t been able to establish themselves over the American language. There is also the odd case of creative naming such as ”Career Camp“ or descriptions such as ”Success Day’s“. These terms generally have more to do with personnel marketing.
Characteristic for the AC procedure is that a number of selection methods are combined with one another, and can be used on a specified number of applicants. During the various exercises, the participants are observed by a number of judges and evaluated. During this period they assess qualities such as character and behaviour, efficiency and concentration span, imagination, flexibility and social competence of the applicants, which at the same time can offer conclusions with regards to the behaviour expected in the future, as far as a specific task is concerned, which is not possible to establish using conventional assessment procedures. (Berger, page 22).
In an AC there is a specific catalogue of different exercises in accordance with specific criteria, which in addition to the usual questionnaires and psychological tests, also include discussions, role-play, planning tasks (Case Studies) and work simulations.
The conclusive assessment is conducted by all of the observers together.
The AC is mainly implemented to choose between applicants for specific tasks with regard to filling a vacancy. But the AC is increasingly being used as an instrument for personnel development, thus as a career advancement and development for existing members of staff. In the process an analysis is there to determine the achievement potential of the individual employee. (Berger, page 25).
2.4. Target group
The AC procedure is mainly used on college graduates, future specialists and managers and young professionals. This type of applicant is considered to have partaken in a theoretic and scientific based education, which is generally far from the real world, and is why the AC is seen as being an appropriate way to prepare the applicants for the practical sector and daily routine of a company. The AC procedure is increasingly being used for other positions, especially in apprentice occupations (Heilmann, AuA 1996, page 157). Named ”screening tests and deployment tests“ or as the case may be, simply “enlistment test“, the institution “Assessment Center“ was used by the German Bundeswehr and the recruiting police authorities since the 1970s as a popular instrument for applicant selection. They didn’t use the English term “Assessment Center“, but they did conduct structured enlistment tests with individual and group exercises, and a psychological interview that was generally relevant to qualifying for the job. Being accepted into an authority, entrance into a specific military unit, or as the case may be, employment in the army, were often determined alongside other tests (health checks/doctors examinations, sport tests etc.) by reaching a specific amount of points in the line of tests. It has become clear, as far as independent private companies are concerned, that the development and implementation of an AC, generally seems to be only suitable for large businesses, because it is only these types of companies that employ or occupy in such large numbers, as to justify the adequate use of an AC (vgl. Knoll/Dotzel, Personal 1996, page 348 ff.).
3. The AC cycle
3.1. Compilation of a requirement profile
The implementation of an AC firstly requires the compilation of a detailed requirement profile, in which the performance qualities and skills of the employee are determined, which are needed to accomplish the job in question (Berger, page 36).
3.2. Development of the exercise instruments
The exercise instruments are developed in accordance with the foundation of the requirement profile of the position to be filled, or so to speak, the combination of exercises and tests and the manner in which the attitudes, qualities and abilities of the participants are judged. During this procedure there is an alternation between observation and questioning of those taking part.