Online assessment for managers

Online assessments have been commonplace since the coronavirus era . While online tests and questionnaires have been implemented digitally for some time, assessment centers with various exercises(role plays, case studies, group discussions, interviews) have also been carried out “remotely” (i.e. via video conference) as online ACs in recent years. This applies to group assessment centers as well as individual assessment centers and management appraisals.

Don't have much time to read? The most important facts in brief:

The empirical findings show that online assessment centers have good validity (comparable to face-to-face assessment centers) and are well accepted by candidates and observers alike. However, there are a few aspects for candidates to consider.

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Online assessment definition

The technical term for online assessment centers is Media-mediated assessments. This generic term covers three different types of assessments.

1. tests that are carried out online

The term “online assessments” is often simply used to describe tests and questionnaires that are carried out online. This is not entirely wrong, because a single test is also an assessment tool. This category includes, for example, self-assessment procedures, personality tests, test procedures to measure performance (analytical reasoning and logical thinking) and normative test procedures. These online procedures are used, for example, to pre-select applicants or to provide employees with impetus for personal development.

However, these procedures are less suitable for personnel selection. Companies should not make the decision to hire or promote dependent on a single online assessment center, but always on several sources of diagnostic information (the so-called “multi-modality“) and never think that the personal interview can be replaced by an online assessment.

2. group assessment centers that are conducted online

Many companies regularly conduct group assessment centers, either to select suitable candidates from a large number of applicants or for internal management trainee pools. While these assessment centers were usually conducted in person before the pandemic, many companies have been forced to switch to online group procedures during the pandemic. This means that group discussions are also increasingly being held online via video conferencing.

There are now a number of providers who offer software for carrying out online procedures (presentation of exercises, assessments by observers, preparation of reports). You can find one of these providers here.

Companies’ experiences with these assessments have been predominantly positive – because international companies in particular have understood that they can also save on travel costs for participants and observers in this way.

3. individual assessments and management appraisals, which are conducted online

The difference between individual assessments and managementappraisals/management audits and group procedures is that you only have a single candidate. Most of the candidates come from senior or top management. As these assessments are not only about aptitude, but also about fit (e.g. with the corporate culture), the individual assessment not only assesses skills (intelligence, teamwork, entrepreneurial thinking, etc.), but also the candidate’s motivation and values. For this reason, the interview is particularly important here. These areas can only be explored together with the candidate in a personal interview.

Online assessment center: Procedure at a glance

The process of online assessment centers is largely identical to that of their face-to-face counterparts.

Here you will find a comparison of the procedure for group assessment centers, individual assessments, management appraisals and management audits.

Online assessment for managers

md advises companies on how to design assessment centers that are fair and valid.

Advantages and disadvantages of online assessment centers

In principle, online assessments have a comparable diagnostic quality to assessments in which observers and candidates are in the same place. There are several scientific publications on this from the times of the pandemic.

In the clinical field (i.e. the diagnosis and treatment of people with mental health problems), it has been known for some time that a video interview is absolutely comparable to a face-to-face interview in terms of quality. However, candidates tend to be assessed somewhat more strictly in the online assessment than in person.

One advantage of the online assessment for diagnosticians is that, paradoxically, you are much closer to the candidate than in a face-to-face assessment in an office or conference room. Although the candidate is sometimes thousands of kilometers away, you are closer to them than in a face-to-face interview because the computer camera is closer to the person in front of the screen.

The biggest advantage for companies is that the organization of online selection procedures makes their work considerably easier, both in terms of coordinating appointments and rooms. There is no need to book accommodation or travel for candidates and observers. The elimination of travel costs can therefore make online selection procedures more cost-effective.

Another aspect is that the candidates usually carry out the assessment at home in their home office, i.e. in a private environment. This is also diagnostically relevant, because people usually behave differently in their private environment than they do in the company.

Nevertheless, the online assessments are missingsomething: just like working remotely from home, there is a lack of personal contact outside of the “official” part, i.e. the conversation in the kitchen, the small talk between exercises.

Preparation for the e-assessment

For the online assessment center, all the information on preparation that is already listed in this article Assessment Center Preparation for Managers and in the following graphic applies. Therefore, only the special features of online assessments will be discussed here.

Mastery of the technology

Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the technology used! (This also applies to the observers!). Is the Internet at home fast enough? Do you know how to switch to break-out rooms in the video program?

Ensure a good picture and good sound

After the long period of working online during the pandemic, you would think that everyone would have reasonably professional equipment at work. The most important points are lighting and background – get a ring light so that you can be easily recognized. Avoid using the artificial backgrounds provided by the video program. These always have a somewhat unsettling effect on the person opposite, as the edges of the person are not always captured exactly. If necessary, even a bed sheet in the background is better.

You should also use an external microphone and an external loudspeaker, as well as an external camera. The quality of most of the microphones, speakers and cameras built into computers is not very good. Nothing annoys others in video conferences more than when a participant’s voice is difficult to understand.

Make sure you have a printer nearby

Most of the exercises in the assessment are designed in such a way that you do not need a printer, but can read the instructions online on the screen. However, if you don’t have a huge screen at your disposal, it can sometimes be useful to print out the material from the exercises (and of course – as you agreed at the beginning of the online assessment – to destroy it again once the process is complete).

Dress professionally

It should go without saying that you should also dress professionally when working from home, especially if you are taking part in a selection process.

Be active!

The most important piece of advice for any assessment is even more important for online assessments – especially when talking to several participants. In online assessments, it often happens that several participants speak at the same time, as they have different transmission latencies (delay due to the quality of the internet connection). In online assessments, you may therefore have to keep talking even if someone else is about to say something. In a face-to-face conversation, you exchange glances at this point to clarify the situation, which is difficult online because you don’t know who the other participants are looking at. The only thing that often helps here is to ignore requests to speak and interruptions from others and simply carry on talking.

Online Assessment

Enter an assessment center calmly and confidently.


Online assessments are widely used today – both for selection interviews and interviews with applicants as part of the recruitment process, for tests and questionnaires, self-assessments, but also role plays and group discussions.

The diagnostic quality of online assessment centers is absolutely comparable to face-to-face procedures, even if – as we have seen – there are a few things to bear in mind, especially for candidates.


What are the advantages of online assessments for managers?

The biggest advantage is the cost savings for the company – there is no need for room rental, accommodation or travel costs.

Is the online assessment suitable for all levels of management positions?

In principle, everything that applies to face-to-face assessments also applies. During the pandemic, we conducted online assessments with all hierarchical levels from junior staff to the Management Board.

How reliable and valid is the online assessment?

There are now several studies on the quality of online assessments; the quality is absolutely comparable with face-to-face assessments. Candidates tend to be judged somewhat more strictly by the observers. Participants who are less experienced in using computers and video conferencing are at a disadvantage in online assessments.

What kind of feedback and reports are provided after completion?

As with offline assessments, candidates receive a written report summarizing the results after the process. In the case of online assessments, this report is often created semi-automatically or fully automatically, as the assessments are also carried out online.

How secure is the data and personal information collected during the online assessment?

As secure as the software used. Most providers of software for online assessments ensure that their servers are located in the EU and comply with the requirements of the DSGVO comply.

Can the online assessment for managers be used for recruitment purposes?

When recruiting managers in particular, it is advisable to conduct the first introductory interview online via video; this is less time-consuming for both companies and applicants.