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Gartner Says Assessment Centers Can Help Enterprises Recruit Future IT Stars


By 2015, Only 40 Percent of Enterprises Will Apply Innovation to Finding, Engaging and Refreshing Talented People

Stamford, Conn. — Too many employment selection and development techniques overemphasize organizational needs today at the expense of future requirements, according to Gartner, Inc. Assessment centers can be a critical tool for enterprises in their quest for talent and particularly for those looking to set up pools of talent that they anticipate will not only perform well today but adapt and grow as business demands change.

“As IT departments experience continuous transformation, roles evolve as does the required balance of technical skills and behavioral competencies,” said Andrew Walker, research director at Gartner. “Assessment centers can help leaders to identify the future strengths of their people by focusing on aptitude and interest, the two foundations for future star-performers or high-potential talents.”

Mr. Walker said that assessment centers allow for the identification of high-potential candidates through such measurable attributes as their early analytical and thinking capability, organizational ability and the preferences that drive their actions and personal style. He said that particularly in times of recession, when resources must be constrained, making the right decisions about talent can make a considerable difference to the success of the enterprise.

Assessment centers are of use in selecting and developing a range of people in organizations around the world. They are commonly used in Europe and Asia to select interns, which is one of the hardest selection processes due to the candidates’ lack of previous relevant work experience. In other circumstances the approach is very helpful in identifying which individuals might make it to leadership-type roles while encouraging others to stay on the technical career ladder. Another growing area of interest is using assessment centers to select people for cross-functional moves and “re-skilling.”

The assessment center uses tests to replicate the same activity in similar conditions so that the assessment is conducted independently through the observation of interactions or scoring of responses to test questions with only one answer. Test responses are then held in data banks and provide comparisons of what results are typical for the appropriate norm group, such as interns and leaders, and increasingly by job group and industry sector. Tests range from aptitude testing, to simulation testing, scenarios and group discussions.

Tests are usually supplemented by a variety of interviews and could include a technical interview, personality questionnaire, physiological interview, motivational interview and a behavioral event interview.

“The quest for talent makes one questionable assumption: that leaders know talent when they see it,” said Steve Bittinger, research director at Gartner. “Assessment centers are a critical tool in achieving objectivity in this quest and dramatically improving the probability that an organization will choose the right candidate for the job.”

Mr. Bittinger recommended that enterprises take a three-step approach to assessment centers, beginning with the definition of critical roles and competencies for which a pipeline of high-potential candidates is necessary. Once this is established, leaders should review ways that assessment centers can enhance the existing decision-making process before finally integrating assessment center methodology into the change management processes.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “The Quest for Talent: Uncover Your Bench Strength Using Assessment Centers.” The report is available on Gartner’s Web site at

About Gartner:
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the indispensable partner to 60,000 clients in 10,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,000 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants in 80 countries. For more information, visit


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