A LIAC projectBeacons design and run Assessment Centres and Development Centres for organisations throughout the UK.

What are Assessment Centres?

Assessment Centres are a means of helping an organisation to identify the suitability, strengths and potential development areas of people – either internal or external – in relation to a particular job or role. They are structured events, usually one or two days long, containing a series of exercises and activities, often including psychometrics, with the objective of assessing competencies in a group of people through their observed behaviour and their performance in certain tests.

What are Development Centres?

Development Centres are like Assessment Centres but it is important to be clear about the key differences. Both involve Assessment, but the difference lies in the end use of the information obtained.

An Assessment Centre is used for selection purposes, whereas a Development Centre is for personal development – leading to team and organisational development. In a nutshell, Development Centres  not only help to identify key talent for the future, but also give participants and their managers action plans to make the most of their skills and work on development needs.

This table summarises the differences :

Assessment Centres Development Centres
have a pass/fail criteria do not have a pass/fail criteria
are geared towards filling job vacancies or selection are geared towards developing the individual
address an immediate organisational need address a longer term organisational need
tend to be used with external and/or internal candidates tend to be used with internal candidates
may have fewer assessors and more participants can have a 1:1 ratio of assessor to participant
involve line managers as assessors may not involve line managers as assessors (possibly all external)
place less emphasis on self-assessment place more emphasis on self-assessment
focus on what the individual can do now focus on the individual’s potential
are geared to meet the needs of the organisation are geared to meet needs of the individual as well as the organisation
assign the role of judge to assessors assign the role of facilitator to assessors
may give no feedback to the individual always give detailed feedback to the individual
retain “ownership” of the outcome/feedback within the organisation pass to, or share “ownership” of the outcome/feedback with the individual
hold very little pre-event briefing hold a detailed pre-event orientation briefing


Why do organisations value Assessment and Development Centres?

  • Objective and robust method of improving both the individual’s, and the organisation’s, awareness of skills, strengths and gaps.
  • Unique opportunity to objectively observe and measure how people actually perform tasks, make decisions, relate to each other and demonstrate self awareness.
  • Customised, well-designed Assessment or Development Centre effectively measures the key behaviours for an employees’ present success and future potential.

Beacons Assessment or Development Centre Activities

The design of the programme depends on which competencies need to be assessed. With the benefit of our many years of experience, Beacons Assessment or Development Centres generally include:

  • Bus Sim activity 3loresInbox/In-tray exercise
  • Structured interview around values
  • Appraisal or counselling or coaching role play
  • Business case study, customised to be relevant to the client company
  • One or more communication exercises, including a formal presentation
  • Practical group activities
  • Psychometric tests (see below)

The number of participants is typically between 5 and 12, whilst the number of facilitators may be as many as a 1:1 ratio with the participants, depending on client requirements.

How are the outputs used?

The outputs take the form of :

  • notes written by facilitators against the competencies agreed
  • scoring of each competency, assessing the evidence of competence demonstrated
  • the results of the psychometric tests
  • Whole cohort summary scores and themes

The outputs are discussed soon after the event, usually in a one-to-one meeting with the participant and a Beacons coach.

The participant commits to agreeing a personal development plan with their manager, based on their assessed development needs.
The organisational themes and the core training needs identified are reported to the client organisation.

Why psychometric tests? Which particular tests might be used?

The British Psychological Society defines a test as “an instrument designed to produce a quantitative assessment of some psychological attribute or attributes” and tests cover two main areas:

  1. measures of aptitude and ability
  2. measures of personality and values


What are the benefits?

  • Administered in a standardised manner
  • Scored in a standardised way
  • Interpreted according to a standardised format
  • Constructed according to psychometric principles
  • Valid assessment of competence by enhanced consistency

Examples of tests and what they measure:

Measures of Aptitude and Ability
Critical / General Reasoning Test To assess critical reasoning ability of individuals
Clerical Test Battery To assess clerical aptitudes and skills for all grades of clerical administrative staff
Technical Test Battery To assess aptitudes relevant in technical roles for applicants and trainees
Measures of Personality and Values
Jung Type Indicator / Myers-Briggs Type Indicator To obtain a personality type classification within an established framework assessment of personality within a well established framework
Fifteen Factor Questionnaire To obtain a detailed and comprehensive
Values and Motives Questionnaire To obtain a profile of individual values


For more information about Beacons Assessment or Development Centres, please contact us.