Positively engaging participants during breaks in Assessment Centers

It is not uncommon in Assessment Centers to receive feedback from candidates about some discomfort generated because of the long waiting breaks. The Assessment Center Co-ordinator is often asked – “Do you know how much longer it will take?”

The longest break for the candidate comes at the end of  the exercises, when assessors integrate candidate’s performance and consolidate feedback. This often proves challenging for the candidates as they face anxiety on two counts – waiting for the results and ending the day in time to catch their flight home.

During this time, the candidates don’t know what is going on, and are waiting without knowing what to do. Seeing the candidates walk around with an expression of discomfort was not pleasant all.

The waiting time before the feedback is often anxious for candidates. The breakout activities create a stress free and pleasant atmosphere

Research and brainstorming led the team to design multiple break activities for the candidates. These were carefully chosen considering  the candidates’ need to release tension and in some way support their learning and development journey. Key design and implementation principles used for the break activities were:

  1. These were introduced only after candidates finished their assessment exercises
  2. These activities were declared to be optional
  3. Each activity was introduced with its objective and benefits, candidates could opt-in to participate in respective activity. 
  4. Each activity has a duration of max 15-20 minutes.

Vernalis break activities designed were sessions on ergonomics, awareness meditation, self-reflection, informative videos and some more.

The impact of the break activities was immediately perceptible. The atmosphere was very pleasant – both candidates and assessors gave a very good feedback. Positive engagement of the participants allowed the assessors to consolidate and complete their observations without getting stressed by the candidates’ discomfort. This also impacted the one-on-one feedback session in a positive manner. The overall AC program feedback score was a notch higher than the average scores received in the past.

About the Author

Indu Bilaney is a Sr. consultant at Vernalis. She heads the Auto dealer personnel assessments service under Leadership Excellence Practice.