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05/15 2011

Executive Assessments Are Booming Again

The executive assessment business — whereby companies seeking to hire leaders place job candidates through a series of assessment tests and structured simulations — is booming again, according to a May 12 article in the Wall Street Journal.

As businesses scramble to fill leadership positions amidst a general hiring rebound, assessment firms are reporting that their business has increased by one third from the previous year.  In addition,  a recent survey of 516 employers found that 72% of the companies surveyed used assessments when filling executive positions — nearly twice the proportion reported in a 2010 survey…

Typically, the assessment process involves the candidate completing a variety of cognitive, personality, and motivational tests, with the testing process usually being conducted over the Internet.   Frequently, an interview with an external psychologist is  also included — with the resulting interview being “much more extensive” than a traditional job interview…

Managerial Simulation Exercises are sometimes also included in the evalaution process — for example, the job candidate may be placed in roleplay situations requiring the development of a strategic marketing plan, or they may have to mediate a sitution between two feuding peers, or handle a disgrunted customer.

The executive assessment process can cost upwards of $30k per candidate (if conducted by one of the larger  consulting firms) and can span several days.    And — in perhaps the most realistic simulation of any executive’s day — participants are frequently given a 30 minute lunch break during the simulation, but are then interrupted by a crisis that needs to be dealt with over their lunch period.   Such is life in the C-Suite…

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