What type of exercises are used in Promotional exams and Assessment Centers?

  • Leaderless Group (Meeting Management)
  • Employee Subordinate Counseling Session
  • Citizen Meetings
  • Media Interviews
  • In-Basket
  • Oral Panel Interviews
  • Oral Presentations
  • Practical Exams
  • Written Exercises
  • Tactical scenarios
  • Accomplishment Surveys

These are the most common types of exercises used in promotionals using the Assessment Center Method. You can start practicing now by using your daily meetings, office “in-basket,” training and counseling sessions to start fine-tuning your skills.

The “In-Basket”

This exercise is a very common experience for most of us, but we don’t always “Master” the “in-basket.” This is why it is a component of many Assessment Center exercises. Being able to attack the in-basket, within a specific time frame, and being able to read, analyze quickly, the key issues that are “hidden” in an in-basket exercise, takes some practice. The book and workshops help you do just that. The key dimensions are discussed in this chapter. Do you know what techniques are more effective when dealing with this type of exercise? How can assessors actually rate you by just reading your notes, comments, etc., that you wrote during this exercise? As in all our “recommendations,” you can start now at your present position by focusing on each element of your “in-basket,” making decisions, prioritizing and delegating! After all…keep in mind that there are no hidden “secrets” to any of these exercises! They are merely extensions of what a good supervisor or manager should be able to do on a daily basis!! Talk to your supervisor (s), especially the most effective ones, and ask them how they do their daily “in-basket!”

The Leaderless Group

This exercise is often one of the most “feared” by candidates. The topic is usually generic to your organization or field, but you and other candidates are to “solve” a particular issue or make some recommendations, at the end of the session. The group members are usually given either an “assigned” role or an “unassigned” role. Some exercises use a “Facilitated” group, with a facilitator helping run the meeting. What should your “role” be? The facilitator, the mediator, “task-master,” “clock watcher,” or “the silent observer?”

Best bet…start watching your own supervisors and managers at the next staff meeting, or unit meeting. Especially the good ones! Start to see how they move the meeting through the agenda. Did they meet the objectives of the meeting in the specified time allowed for the meeting? Did they solicit input from everyone? Did they meet the organizational goals? Or was there a “hidden agenda?” How did others act in the meeting? Did they help facilitate the meeting, or cause blockages? Did they “control” or dominate the meeting, or let a small minority of one or two vocal dissenters determine the course of the meeting? Meeting management skills are learned and can be mastered with some practice. Having the authority doesn’t always mean you have the ability!! Next time you’re in ANY meeting, help facilitate, mediate, move the group forward, try to attain consensus, offer ideas, solutions, alternatives, and … keep the big picture in mind… think of the benefits, costs and resources. Can you also give a concise synopsis of the groups decisions? Can you get the group to defer to you? Can you wrap it up and conclude the groups session with an acknowledgment that the group’s goals and objectives were met? Future meetings should have a whole new perspective for you now!

Who will emerge as the “leader” of this group? And… are you sure you have the right definition of what a good leader is during these types of scenarios? Will it be you?

Employee Subordinate Counseling Sessions

As a supervisor or manager, you spend a great deal of time on personnel issues. Whether its counseling or disciplining subordinates, this is a critical skill for you to develop. Those of you who have been Training Officers, (FTO’s) will have some experience in doing this with new recruits. Some of you may have had this experience in the military or private sector. The skills are very transferable. A typical scenario is where you as the new supervisor will have to meet  with a subordinate who has been having some work-related problems. Your role is to try to get them back on track, but also to see what it is that has derailed them, and how you can help them return to an acceptable level of performance. Another version of this is the disgruntled citizen who you have an appointment with, and you “meet” with this person to ascertain what the issues are and how you or the agency can help…or not, depending on the scenario. Your communication skills, interpersonal skills, judgment, decision making, analysis, and organizational sensitivity are all going to come into play.

Other exercises include:

  • Oral Presentation
  • Accomplishment Survey
  • Written Exercises (Project or “futures” papers)
  • Tactical Scenarios
  • Performance-based scenarios
  • Operational or Tactical Scenarios
  • Fire “Simulations” 
  • Situational Judgment Tests (SJT’s)
  • B-Pad© or video based scenarios

See B-Pad© at:  http://www.bpad.com/

KSA Ltd. has helped many candidates with virtually every scenario or performance based test used in assessment centers or promotional exams.