The ACSG (Assessment Centre Study Group) has played a key role in disseminating information and providing guidelines about ACs (Assessment Centres) in South Africa. Through several guidelines, the ACSG began to play a more prominent role with regard to the professional and ethical aspects related to the use of ACs. In the latest edition of guidelines (2015), the ACSG looked at international best practice in the use of ACs which took into account the impact of technology, the latest validation strategies and legislation into consideration. Among some of the key items that were addressed was the issue of whether registration as either a psychologist or psychometrist with the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) was required for one to take on the role of an assessor when conducting an AC.
According to the ACSG (2015) the role of an assessor is to classify and evaluate the observed evidence against a range of selected competencies by completing structured rating forms for each simulation exercise. The assessor therefore plays a rather technical role as they are required to accurately observe and record a range of participants’ behaviours across different behavioural aspects. At times, this includes the assessment of psychological behaviours which may involve the use of psychological instruments.
As a guide, the ACSG recommends that an assessor has a minimum qualification of an Honours degree in a behavioural science such as Industrial/Organisational Psychology or Human Resource Management. In cases where the AC includes observing psychological behaviour as part of the assessment process, under these conditions a minimum qualification at an Honours level with registration as a Psychometrist (Independent Practice) or working under the supervision of an Industrial/Organisational Psychologist is required. When work-related psychological acts are assessed in the AC this forms part of the scope of practice of Industrial/Organisational Psychologists which therefore requires that the assessor is registered as an Industrial/ Organisational Psychologist. If psychologists from other disciplines (e.g., clinical, educational, counselling and research) are trained as assessors then the regulations set out in the Health Professions Act (Act No. 56 of 1974) apply.
According to the ACSG, in some instances it is a line manager that is designated to be an assessor. When this is the case, the guide recommends that the assessor should be a senior manager with a proven track record of people management. In addition to attending assessor training the line manager should work in conjunction with a seasoned assessor who is certified as competent by an AC administrator for each unique AC in which they are involved.
As a way to establish best practice, the ACSG has been at the forefront of establishing professional guidelines and communicating ethical considerations for users of ACs in South Africa. We hope that these guidelines have provided useful guidance and information on best practice considerations when using the assessment centre method.