Assessment Centres and Development Centres: What’s the difference?

At Azure Consulting, demand for both Assessment and Development Centres is picking up at the moment. They are both excellent ways for organisations to assess the talent of participants. Assessment and Development Centres gather individuals together to undertake job-relevant tasks, during which they are observed and assessed. There are, however, key differences:

Assessment Centres

Aim to discover talent. As they are used in selection and recruitment purposes for filling vacancies, there may be a competitive element. There will usually be a decision about whether the candidates meet set criteria. Candidates tend to receive little feedback on their performance during the centre itself, the focus is on what the candidate can do now. Internal or external candidates may take part. They are a really fair way to assess who will be the bed people to fill vital positions.

Feedback from recent Assessment Centres run by Azure:

“I was really nervous to begin with, but by the end of the day I realised the objectivity of the Azure observers was invaluable.”

“I thought the activities were very realistic and relevant to what I would be expected to do in this role, therefore I felt they allowed me to display my skills.” 

Development Centres

Aim to develop existing talent. Subsequently, there are no ‘pass or fail’ criteria and participants receive extremely detailed feedback from their observers, which they will usually use to create something such as a Performance Development Plan. There is a much greater focus on potential, and how the participant can improve their skills and performance. They tend to be held internally within organisations.

Feedback from recent Development Centres run by Azure:

“The Azure observers were un-intrusive as I am sure they are supposed to be.  The feedback from my observer was excellent and really useful as I tended to immediately forget what had happened and focused only on what I felt I did wrong.”

“There was a wide range of activities which allowed me to demonstrate my competence well.  I cannot think of anything that was missed.”


October 2015