Home Home | About Us | Sitemap | Contact  
  • Info For
  • Professionals
  • Students
  • Educators
  • Media
  • Search
    Powered By Google

Assessment Centers Versus Cognitive Ability Tests



Assessment Centers Versus Cognitive Ability Tests

New Research Shows Assessment Centers Outperform in Head-to-Head Comparison

In a head-to-head comparison of two commonly used predictors in personnel selection, a University of Minnesota-based research team found that assessment centers substantially outperform cognitive ability tests when predicting job performance. 

This is contrary to conventional wisdom based on prior research.  Assessment centers are complex assessment processes, often taking one or more days, where trained assessors rate candidates on specific attributes based on candidates’ performance in different exercises designed to simulate the job. Assessment centers are prototypically used for managerial and supervisory jobs.

This research, conducted by SIOP Fellow Paul Sackett, Oren Shewach, and  Heidi Keiser and presented at the Annual Conference in April, aggregated studies that included an ability test and an assessment center for the same set of individuals within the same jobs and the same measures of job performance. This produced a more direct evaluation of the two predictors’ effectiveness than in previous research.

The authors theorize that assessment centers may assess and predict more broad aspects of job performance (e.g., leadership, communication, teamwork) than do cognitive ability tests.  Studies that are used traditionally to validate cognitive ability tests focus on narrower components of performance such as quantity and pace of work.

“While assessment centers are much more time-consuming and costly than cognitive ability tests, this research supports the case for using assessment centers in personnel selection for positions where job performance is composed of more broad behaviors,” Sackett said.

Contact Information:

Paul Sackett–psackett@umn.edu, 612-624-9842

Oren Shewach–shewa006@umn.edu, 734-272-1168


About Smarter Workplace Awareness Month

This research is being brought to you through SIOP's Smarter Workplace Awareness Month efforts. Throughout the month of September, SIOP will be making a special push to promote I-O research and practice.

SIOP members and other I-O psychologists are encouraged to take extra time this month to promote the many ways I-O psychology makes the workplace smarter—more effective, efficient, productive, and generally a better place for employees and employers to work. To learn more, including how you can get involved, please visit the Smarter Workplace Awareness Month homepage. #SmarterWorkplace