15 things you need to know about running an effective digital assessment centre

Dec 14, 2020 | Selection & assessment

15 things you need to know about running an effective digital assessment centre

Dec 14, 2020 | Selection & assessment

Whether you’re a university or an employer, if you’ve run assessment events in the past for students or candidates, you’re probably determining how you can continue to do so effectively now that we’re in a world of lockdowns and social distancing.

At SRS Recruitment and Employability Experts, we have years of experience in designing and running assessment events. We’re used to hosting large groups of participants in some of the UK’s biggest and most recognisable venues where, before everything changed, we brought people together to learn, inspire, impress and ultimately get hired.

Although we’ve had to say goodbye (for now) to hosting these events at the likes of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, our work to support students and allow employers to assess candidates continues, all thanks to our bespoke digital assessment platform.

This Autumn we have collaborated with over 10 different universities, welcoming thousands of students to complete mock digital assessment centres. We have also worked with employers to design and implement their graduate recruitment processes for this year using digital methods.


Our experience is shared in these 15 tips, so you can make your own digital assessment centre a success:

1. Assign just as much, if not more, preparation time for your digital event as you would for an in-person event.

You might not have to book a venue and plan for large numbers of people being in the same place at once, but you’ll need to invest time in ensuring everyone stays engaged and informed in the run up to your event. Think about how you can use online communities, Q&A webinars or video briefings.

2. The success of your event will all depend on how well you communicate and explain the process to both assessors and participants.

3. Create digital spaces for participants to network and unwind just like they’d be able to at an in-person event.

4. Beware of ‘virtual fatigue’.

We recommend having shorter, more focussed sessions over a half-day, instead of one prolonged session across the whole day, for example.

5. Create or adjust your materials to make the most of the digital platform that you are using.

For example, you can use breakout rooms for candidates to prepare different sides to a debate, or use the share screen option to pull together a visual presentation or notes.

6. For group exercises, we recommend having smaller, more focused groups.

It’s harder to assess body language online and so assessors need to be able to concentrate on fewer candidates. We’ve found that it’s best to have groups no bigger than five.

7. Make sure you provide candidates with technical guidance so they see how technology can help, rather than hinder, their performance.

8. Make the most of this opportunity to test for digital literacy, such as how candidates make the most of digital platforms to showcase their skills or how they use online resources to complete research.

9. Consider providing candidates with tips to make the digital assessment centre a success, such as keeping their background professional and minimising distractions.

10. Find out whether the tech you choose to host your event operates smoothly on multiple devices – mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer.

11. Have a backup plan for candidates who may live in remote areas and are unable to access a strong internet connection. For example, can they complete the exercise over a telephone?

12. Encourage candidates to share any challenges they may have with the technology or exercises, so you can accommodate and improve processes for the future.

Don’t make assumptions on the technology you think students will have. We have discovered many students use their phone to access the assessment centre, which can put them at a disadvantage over students who have a laptop for example, but if they share this information in advance, adjustments can be made.

13. To keep your candidates engaged and ensure they are fully prepared for your digital assessment centre, we recommend creating a series of ‘keep-warm’ communications. These can be sent as an email series in the weeks leading up to the assessment centre.

14. For the digital assessment centre to run smoothly, assessors must be well trained and fully comfortable with assessing using the digital platform. You could consider hosting live assessor training calls, or alternatively recording a demonstration video which could be sent out to all assessors beforehand.

15. Having a chat feature or other informal method for people to seek help during the event will greatly improve their experience.

Please contact us if you would like more information or even a demo of our digital assessment platform, Assess.Digital.

Watch ISE and SRS webinar Taking your assessment centres online is easier than you may think

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