Frequently Asked Questions

Are you going to take an Assessment/Development Center at Highlight Consulting? 

We are happy to welcome you and answer all your questions!

We hope that this information will help you to anticipate this experience and reassure about what to expect.

The Assessment/Development Center combines complementary exercises such as personality and motivation questionnaires, reasoning tests, interviews, and role plays (business cases) and allows for a nuanced and objective assessment of a professional’s skills. Its objective is to formulate an opinion prior to hiring or promotion.

The Development Center is based on the Assessment Center methodology, but focuses on the development of skills through feedback and coaching. Its objective is to set up an individualised development plan.

Elements of a standard protocol

Personality questionnaires
To find out the behavioural preferences of the participants, we use the Wave (Saville Consulting), Shape (AssessFirst), Insights Discovery, or Enneagram questionnaires.
Motivation questionnaires
We use the Drive questionnaire (AssessFirst) to identify your motivational drivers.
Business cases

Our business cases place you in a fictitious company facing change or a new strategic direction. As an Assessment Center participant, your role is to form a clear vision of the situation and to take the decisions that seem most relevant to you.

After a period of preparation, you meet an actor who plays the role of a client, your manager, an employee, or a colleague (depending on your position). The interaction time gives you the opportunity to implement your choices and handle the situation in the way you think is most appropriate.

The structured interview

The structured interview is competence-based. After a short introduction in which you introduce yourself and summarise your career path, you are asked to give concrete examples of situations in your career where you have been required to apply the competences being assessed. For example, if the assessment aims to assess your organisational skills, you will be asked to describe concrete situations in your career where you have developed your organisational skills.

The report

The Assessment/Development Center report allows assessors to record all observations related to the competences being assessed. For each competency, you will receive details of your strengths and areas for development, as well as a score that allows you to position yourself in relation to a reference profile. The report is sent to the client within 10 days of the Assessment/Development Center.

The feedback

Highlight Consulting generally recommends a feedback session, lasting an hour or more, which allows the assessed professional to see all the observations made in the report. The purpose of the feedback is to allow you to validate the observations and discuss them with the assessor., It also allows us to compare our observations with what is happening on the ground if your HR representative and/or your manager is present. Lastly, the feedback session is an opportunity to decide concrete development actions for the future.

Theme 1 : Methodology

What is an Assessment/Development Centre?

The term 'Assessment/Development Centre' is used to describe an assessment day where you will complete a series of simulation exercises.

The AssessmentCentre combines different types of exercises: personality questionnaire, reasoning test(s), role plays, strategic presentation, and decision making and competency based interview. These exercises allow assessors to observe behaviours in relation to a given competency framework. Each competency is observed by at least two exercises/questionnaires.

The Development Centre uses the same methodology but has a different objective. While the Assessment Centre gives a clear opinion regarding recruitment and/or promotion, the only objective of the Development Centre is to develop you by sharing clear recommendations for development (training, coaching, and self-coaching). That is why each interaction is immediately followed by a debriefing by the assessors.

What is a competency profile?

An Assessment/Development Centre is built around a competency profile. A competency is a synergy of skills, attitudes, and knowledge. It manifests itself in visible behaviour and has a predictive value in relation to actual achievements and specific performance. In most cases, you will receive a competency profile prior to your Assessment/Development Centre which will be used for your assessment. Each competency is clearly defined by means of behavioural indicators. The comments in the Assessment/Development Centre report show how you implement the competencies according to these indicators.



  • Using relevant arguments to support ideas,
  • Expressing yourself in a structured and precise manner,
  • Creating win-win situations,
  • Understanding the other's point of view and integrate it into the negotiation.

The competency profile has several uses:

  • it allows different stakeholders (the Client, Highlight Consulting, yourself) to talk about the same reality. The indicators ensure a consensus and are used as the basis for observations and the evaluation; and
  • it guarantees transversal coherence between employees by profile or by level within the same client and for the same type of function.
How does the Assessment/Development Centre guarantee objectivity?

The Assessment/Development Centre uses a consistent procedure to guarantee an objective assessment. Only your performance in the various exercises is used for the evaluation. Since all participants are assessed in the same way by a third party (i.e., neutrally), each of you has the same starting point and receives the same opportunities without any (negative or positive!). prejudice

  • The first guarantee of objectivity is the prior definition of each competency profile and its links with a sequence of specific exercises that implement the competencies being measured.
  • The second guarantee of objectivity is the use of the standardised assessment methodology used by the assessors: the ORCE process: Observe (O), Record (R), Classify (C), and only then Evaluate (E) your performance. Different assessors are involved through the evaluation process. Each conclusion is therefore the result of a thorough discussion between the assessors about your performance.
  • The third guarantee of objectivity comes from the thorough training and professionalism of the assessors, both in terms of the consistent application of the Assessment/Development Centre method and in terms of the roles they play in the interactive exercises.
  • The final guarantee of objectivity comes from the harmonisation of the approach taken by the Highlight Consulting assessors, from the beginning to the end of the procedure, which leads them to have the same evaluation criteria and methodologies.
How many assessors take part in an Assessment/Development Centre?

There are usually two assessors present during the simulation exercises in the Assessment/Development Centres organised by Highlight Consulting. However, some procedures only allow for one assessor. Only experienced and qualified consultants are involved.

Where is the Assessment/Development Centre organised?

The Assessment/Development Centre is organised at our clients' premises, at our premises, or at a seminar centre. A detailed invitation will be sent to you by us with all practical details once the date has been fixed.

How long does an Assessment/Development Centre last?

The Assessment/Development Centre lasts between half and a full day. The exact time of your Assessment/Development Centre is specified in the confirmation email that you will receive a few days before the Assessment/Development Centre. Upon arrival at the location, you will receive a detailed programme for the day.

What happens during the Assessment/Development Centre?

The exercises in an Assessment/Development Centre are selected according to the skills that need to be assessed. The details of the exercises will be presented to you at the beginning of the day.

Each exercise is timed and the reception assistant or consultant will ask you to hand in your documents as soon as the time is up. This is crucial to ensure the standardisation of the exercises. So remember to be well organised and wear your watch so that you can manage your time well during the day.

Why are the simulations in a different field from mine?

The simulation exercises are specifically selected so that there are no links to your working environment. This ensures that we can observe your behavioural skills , not your specific expertise. An Assessment/Development Centre exercise is not a knowledge test. Assessors are not interested in your specialisation, but in your behaviour. So, for example, if you are in charge of an IT department, you may be asked to work on a mailbox exercise which is part of the administration of a temp agency. The aim is to assess your ability to deal with a new and complex subject and to make decisions, define a plan of action, convince others, sort out problems, etc. Knowledge of the functioning of a temp agency is not taken into consideration and is therefore not measured.

Do the observations continue during breaks and meals?

Observations and evaluations do not take place during breaks and lunch as these times are not relevant for the Assessment/Development Centre. An Assessment/Development Centre programme requires a lot of effort on your part, therefore, we believe that real rest time is necessary for the process.

If anything goes wrong (late delivery of lunch, long wait between interactions), please do not hesitate to alert the reception assistant. During the Assessment/Development Centre, nothing will be done to put pressure on you in a roundabout way. The Assessment/Development Centre has a clear and transparent methodology so you know exactly when you are being observed and evaluated.

Theme 2 : Quality and Ethics

What does Highlight Consulting do to ensure that everything runs smoothly?

Highlight Consulting ensures that you can work in the best possible conditions. Therefore, they pay particular attention to the following factors:

  • Calmness and concentration: in an Assessment/Development Centre, it is essential that you can concentrate on your work. Distractions are therefore avoided as much as possible. You and the assessors are asked to switch off smartphones.
  • Clear instructions: the instructions you receive for each exercise are standardised. You have the possibility to ask questions to the coach.
  • Transparent context: it is important that you understand both the objectives of the Assessment/Development Centre and the reasons for it. Communication of this information is the responsibility of your organisation.
What are the requirements for a quality Assessment/Development Centre?

A high quality Assessment/Development Centre requires:

  • defined competency profile using behavioural indicators;
  • use of at least one simulation exercise, a competency based interview (CBI), and a personality questionnaire;
  • use of exercises adapted to the level of the function being assessed;
  • involvement of certified assessors (specific training on the techniques used AND validation of the ability to observe neutrally and to score);
  • use of a systematic evaluation procedure (duration of exercises, language used, standardised administration, neutral context, etc.);
  • written report with precise observations (not assumptions or interpretations);
  • and individualised feedback.
What training do Highlight Consulting assessors have?

All Highlight Consulting assessors are trained and certified. They have all undergone intensive training in order to ensure high quality observations (neutral and objective) according to a frame of reference (ability to score). Finally, Highlight Consulting guarantees the follow-up and regular calibration of the scoring results of its assessors in order to continuously support and train them for this role.

Are assessors bound by a code of ethics?

Assessors are required to follow the specific ethical rules for assessing people. This implies that the content of the conversations that take place during the structured interview remain strictly confidential. All information given to the assessors about the client or yourself during the day is also confidential.

How realistic and reliable are the exercises and simulations?

Simulation exercises are always situations drawn from the life of an organisation. The exercises used by Highlight Consulting have been developed by experts and tested to ensure they are particularly realistic and relevant.

Who has access to the results and the report? Are they confidential?

At Highlight Consulting, the report is strictly confidential and will not be used in any context other than that mandated by the client. Only you, your management, your HR representative, and the assessors have access to the Assessment/Development Centre report. They have all agreed not to discuss it with third parties.

Highlight Consulting keeps the reports for 6 months before destruction. To find out more about your organisation's policy on the handling of Assessment/Development Centre data and results, please contact your HR department.

Theme 3 : Preparation

How can I prepare for an Assessment/Development Centre?

The best preparation you can do for the intensive day at the Assessment/Development Centre is to sleep well the night before.
There is no other way to prepare specifically for an Assessment/Development Centre. In a traditional examination, an answer is either completely correct, partially correct, or incorrect, and the acquisition of new knowledge can immediately lead to an improvement in results. However, this is not the case with simulation exercises. This is because there are no correct answers: only your behaviours are observed which reflect the extent to which you have a skill. In other words, it is not enough for you to know how to approach a problem, you also have to translate it into real behaviour when confronted with it.

Will advance information help me to improve my performance at the Assessment/Development Centre?

Almost nothing useful can be derived from prior information about the Assessment/Development Centre, for example, from contact with others who have previously participated. Often this is an obstacle rather than a help. Other participants colour the information, suggest 'correct' solutions that do not exist, lose sight of essential information, or draw attention to irrelevant information. All these elements will act as filters and may make you perform less well in the exercise. In general, a spontaneous, relaxed, and unprejudiced starting attitude is the best way to participate in an Assessment/Development Centre for good results.

Furthermore, studies show that participants who take part in the same Assessment/Development Centre several times within a period of less than two years achieve very similar results. This shows that knowledge of the simulation exercises has little influence on the observations made. The behaviour and approach of the participant remain the same. A change in a skill can only be seen if the participant has undertaken significant training efforts (coaching, self-coaching) in the skill in question.

Is it possible to manipulate the results of an Assessment/Development Centre by 'role playing'?

Assessment/Development Centres allow you to bring out your habitual behaviours: those you have acquired through experience and practice. The complexity, number, and limited duration of the simulation exercises force you to use spontaneous behaviour. The constraints of the method make it difficult to 'role-play' or consciously change your behaviour throughout the day.

Theme 4 : Follow-up

How is the feedback organised?

The team of assessors records its observations in a detailed report which includes:

  • an analysis of each of the competencies assessed;
  • an analysis of your strengths and areas for development; and
  • an indication of growth opportunities with specific attention to training and future development.

The feedback is provided in a personal meeting between you and the Highlight Consulting consultant who is responsible for the report (usually the main assessor). Sometimes your current manager and HR representative are also invited. If the agendas of all stakeholders allow it, the feedback usually takes place 4 to 6 weeks after the Assessment/Development Centre.

The feedback interview is constructive with a strong focus on your further development, all based on the results of the analysis of your strengths and areas for development. The feedback interview usually lasts 60 minutes.

What is the purpose of the feedback?

The purpose of the feedback is to allow the assessor to explain the content of the report, nuance it, and focus on the main observations (the most striking strengths and the most important points for development). You can also ask any questions you may have, agree/disagree with the observations, and ask for clarification of certain comments if necessary.

During this feedback, the roles of each are as follows:

  • Highlight Consulting consultant: explain the report, comment on the observations, help you to make the link between the observations in the report and the reality of your daily life, and give you avenues for development;
  • HR representative: listen actively in order to identify training needs and propose concrete avenues for development;
  • Your manager: provide their point of view on the content of the report, qualify or reinforce the report's observations according to the reality on the ground, help you to question yourself, and provide you with support afterwards, in particular by helping you to set up specific development actions; and
  • You: understand the observations, ask questions where you perceive a discrepancy between the observations and your self-image, take stock of your strengths, and identify the areas of development on which you wish to work.
Why don’t the results of my Assessment/Development Centre match the results of my annual evaluations?

It is common that the results of the Assessment/Development Centre are not aligned with the results of the annual appraisals because they focus on different element. In your annual appraisal your manager evaluates your results while in the Assessment/Development Centre assesses your competencies.
If you are being assessed for a transition to a new role, we observe the competencies required for the target function.

What happens after the Assessment/Development Centre?

After the feedback and based on the conclusions of the Assessment/Development Centre report, a tailor-made personal development plan can be drawn up in collaboration with your HR department.

We are available to answer all your questions: