The ADC’s (Assessment and Development Centres) are not a place; they are an event which allows assessors to assess the potential of a candidate for further development. The event can be held anywhere that has sufficient rooms to manage the different activities in close proximity. This may be at a FRS (Fire and Rescue Service) or external venue and may take up to a full day, or part of a day, depending on timetabling. There will generally be no more than 8 candidates assessed on any one day.
The day will consist of several different activities or exercises, through which the candidate’s potential can be assessed. The exercises are job simulations; this means that the types of activities / tasks you will be expected to do will reflect the sort of thing you would need to do as an FRS manager. This gives a ‘preview’ of your potential, and how effectively you are likely to perform in future roles. The context for these exercises will be the same for the whole day i.e. the Background Information you will read will be relevant to all parts of the day.
The event is carefully timetabled to ensure each candidate has the same amount of time to complete each exercise, and has regular breaks throughout the day. If you have any special requirements you will be given an opportunity to let the ADC team know prior to attending. The timetable is designed to ensure that you are seen by a range of different assessors. Candidates may find that they complete the exercises in a different sequence but all will have completed the same activities by the end of the ADC within exactly the same time-frame. You will see administrators with stop-watches making sure this is done fairly and accurately.
Who will be there?
Assessors – the assessors will generally be FRS managers and HR / personnel / support staff. Each exercise is assessed by two assessors. They sit discreetly at the back of the room during your role-play exercises and make notes. You will have no need to have any contact with them and they are instructed not to make themselves noticed. Their presence may seem a little daunting to start with but try not to let this effect you.
They are as keen for you to do your very best as you are, and are not there to judge you personally, simply to match the way you behave to the PQA criteria they have in front of them. It is actually much easier than you might think to forget they are there once the exercise is underway. Two assessors will also mark your written work, but this is usually done after the event. Where timetabling allows you should usually be assessed by different assessors in each different exercise.
Role Players – these can be professional actors, or FRS personnel who have volunteered to take part. Their role is to work with the script they have for each exercise, adapting it depending on what you say, but making sure they provide you with certain bits of information that you need to interact with them in the exercise. They will also have some information that they will not volunteer unless you ask, or make it easy for them to do so through the approach you take. The role-players do not have any part in assessing you.
Centre Manager – this role can be undertaken by a senior FRS assessor or an Occupational Psychologist. Their role is to ensure that the ADC is managed smoothly, fairly and consistently. They are also responsible for quality assuring all assessors evidence.
Administrators – they manage the logistics of the ADC and assist with ensuring timings are adhered to and all involved personnel are in the right place at the right time.