If you’re taking part in an assessment, you might be wondering what to expect. Whether your assessment is for development or recruitment, it’s a unique opportunity to gain insights into your strengths and how you can achieve your full potential as a leader. We want everyone who completes a Cerno assessment to enjoy and gain real value from the experience.

The value for you

Organisations that choose to use an independent and rigorous assessment as part of their recruitment process are showing the importance they place on the role, and the value they place on you as a candidate. Likewise, by offering you leadership development assessment, your organisation is making a significant investment in your future.

Previous participants in Cerno assessments, for both development and recruitment, have commented on the value they’ve gained from the experience:

"I could 1) see where I rated against the leadership success profile, 2) understand what I needed to work on, and 3) see the development pathway for each of the 16 leadership success profile capabilities, which gave me a better understanding of what I should work towards."

“[My consultant] was affirming and reassuring – I liked her emphasis on strengths and her clear, focused, and prioritised messages about development. She was astute and sensitive. She provided some immediate things to work on and strategies to consider. I enjoyed and benefited from the session.”

“Exposure to very capable and independent people who were well qualified to assess me and give me advice.”

“[My consultant] was fantastic – really approachable, non-judgemental and she really delved into the areas I needed to focus on – including when I had no idea where the starting point was.”

“This was a valuable discussion for taking the many ideas in the assessment report and focusing them – I appreciated [my consultant] drilling down to specific actions, this really helped to make the outcomes from the whole process tangible and empowering rather than overwhelming.”

“[My consultant] was great to deal with. He was very easy to talk openly with and this added to the value I received from the process as I could be honest about my experiences.”

"Overall - some great insights into my strengths and areas of development and practical ways to improve."

More about us

Our consultants are all specialists in leadership and management assessment, who hold postgraduate qualifications in psychology (many of them PhDs). To find out more about the Cerno consultants you will be working with, click here.

What’s involved

We design our assessments to provide you with the best possible opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and skills. The exact content of your assessment will depend on the purpose of your assessment. Typically, the steps you will complete are:

Respond to online questionnaires

Typically, you will be asked to respond to some online questionnaires (for example, self-assessments, personality inventories, or 360° feedback surveys), which will take around two hours to complete. Your responses will help us understand your work style, preferences, and motivation; so we can tailor the assessment process and fully explore the areas most relevant to you.

Take part in an assessment or development centre

When you arrive at Cerno please ring the bell on the reception table and take a seat. Our Assessment Centre Coordinator will welcome you and brief you on the timetable, assessment exercises, and facilities. The Coordinator will be also be available to answer questions and provide you with any assistance you may need.

Some of the most common exercises are:

  • Interview: In the interview, you will talk about your experiences and how you have demonstrated different skills.
  • Meeting simulation: You may take part in a simulated meeting with a direct report, stakeholder, customer, or other individual (who is played by a trained actor). You will prepare for the meeting based on a written briefing which describes the scenario and objectives (e.g. coaching, performance management, or relationship management).
  • Presentation simulation: You may be asked to present on a topic to a small group playing a range of roles (e.g. staff, a project or management team, or community representatives). You will be given information to help you prepare for the presentation.
  • Case study: You may complete a case study in which you analyse information provided and make a decision to resolve a business or organisational problem. You will receive information and be asked to present your views in writing or as a presentation.
  • Critical reasoning: You may complete online exercises in which you critically evaluate and draw logical conclusions from complex verbal and numerical information.

Your interviewers will be one or two Cerno organisational psychologists who specialise in leadership assessment, who may also be joined by a representative of the recruiting/employing organisation. Your interviewers will also observe any simulations (if relevant). 

Discuss your results

Regardless of the purpose of your assessment, you will have the opportunity to receive feedback and/or coaching (usually with the Cerno consultant who completed your assessment). In this step, we will assist you to gain as much value as possible from your assessment results. The discussion will focus on your strengths, steps you can take to build your capability, and any questions you might have.

If you attend a development centre, you will also receive a development report prior to your coaching discussion (i.e. describing your strengths and providing development suggestions). If you are assessed as part of a recruitment process, you may also have the opportunity to receive a written report (depending on the organisation that asked you to attend the centre and the purpose of your assessment). These reports have been carefully designed so you can use them to enhance your skills.

The rationale for our assessment approach

You’ll notice that our assessment process is more comprehensive than is typical in, for example, a standard recruitment process (which might be based on a just a short interview and some referee checks). Evidence shows that a robust assessment approach, which includes multiple components, produces results which are more reliable and accurate. Each assessment component has its own strengths and provides a different perspective on your leadership. For example:

  • Psychometric assessments such as personality and critical reasoning tests provide objective and quantitative information about how you compare to other managers.
  • Simulation exercises give us the opportunity to ‘see you in action’ in a particular scenario, so we can provide deeper insights and give specific and developmentally useful feedback (sometimes relating to aspects of your style, approach, and impact you might not be consciously aware of).
  • Interviews allow us to hear from you first-hand how you’ve approached ‘real life’ situations.

Together, the use of different assessment components allows us to provide a more ‘complete picture’ than would typically be the case.

Our advice

What you gain from your assessment is dependent on what you put into it. Our key advice for getting the most out of the experience is:

  • Decide what you want to achieve from your assessment. We notice that the people who take the time to do this are often those who gain the most value from their assessment (whether completed for recruitment or for development).
  • Complete the online questionnaires by the timeframe requested.
  • Plan to be on time for your assessment centre. We’ll let you know your specific start time. You’ll feel more relaxed if you allow yourself sufficient time to arrive promptly.
  • Remember any glasses or other aids you might require. Please also feel free to bring some reading material or work to complete (as sometimes there are breaks between exercises). You do not need to bring anything else with you.
  • Let us know if there’s anything additional we can do to help. For example, tell us if you have any cultural or dietary requirements, or any physical or other disabilities which we can take steps to accommodate. Where necessary, we also work hard to protect your confidentiality.
  • Relax and be yourself. We appreciate that many people feel apprehensive about ‘being assessed’. We will do all we can to support you through the process and put your best foot forward.