Management Assessment

The“management assessment” is actually a “manager assessment”, because as a rule only one person is assessed in terms of their skills as a manager. The assessment of competencies is based on the specific requirements for the current or future position of the respective manager.

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Management assessments are used to assess and evaluate the skills, competencies and potential of managers in a structured process consisting of various instruments and exercises. They are used to secure and support various personnel measures, usually for recruitment (external candidates), promotions or targeted management development measures (internal participants).


A management assessment is a process for evaluating managers in terms of their suitability and fit and for identifying areas for development.

It is based on the methodology of the assessment center the assessment a. rely on various data sources (tests, questionnaires, exercises, interviews) b. be carried out by several independent observers c. be carried out systematically and based on criteria and behavioral anchors.

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Differentiation between management audit and management appraisal

In management diagnostics, there are no generally binding definitions of the various methods. The term management assessment is usually used when only one or a small number of participants are assessed, e.g. internal and/or external applicants for a vacant position.

During a management audit, management appraisal or a management due diligence, the entire management is examined – individually, but there is always a look at the management as a whole.

Advantages for companies

Basically, a management assessment is used to secure personnel measures and decisions – e.g. recruitment, promotion, but also individual personnel development measures (e.g. admission to a high-potential program or promotion through an executive MBA program).

A management assessment is not the only source of information used for the decision: previous performance (especially for internal candidates) plays a role, as does the CV (for external candidates) or the impression from previous interviews.

However, a management assessment allows a different, usually more in-depth view of candidates. The assessments and evaluations obtained here are far more objective and are made from a position of neutrality. Although a management assessment cannot predict the success of a manager with certainty, it does significantly increase the probability of preventing a wrong decision.

When is a management assessment useful?

In principle, management assessments can be used to support any personnel decision at management level (or for candidates who are to take on a management role in the future).

Particularly when filling a position with external applicants it is advisable to use an assessment to back up a hiring decision, as you usually have little information about external applicants: the diagnostic value from References or unstructured interviews (as is still common with many recruitment consultants/headhunters and HR departments) is quite limited.

Particularly in the area of “leadership” skills, internal applicants have a reasonably solid database (e.g. from employee surveys or 360° feedback), whereas external applicants have to rely on the more or less valid self-description of the applicants; here, a management assessment can provide significantly more certainty when making personnel decisions.

Procedure and contents

Requirements analysis/briefing

Every management diagnostic process begins with a dedicated requirements analysis – in other words, the requirements for the position to be filled. Job descriptions are usually not very helpful here, which is why the requirements are usually determined in interviews with the decision-makers based on the critical incidents method (e.g. as a “strategy briefing“) and described in the form of a competency model.

It is not only important to ask what qualities a candidate should have, but also what the environment is like in which he or she will be working: what is the team like, what is the supervisor like, what is the history and culture of a unit? (an excerpt from a guide for a briefing discussion with the decision-maker can be found below)

graphic Excerpt from a guideline for requirements analyses
Excerpt from a guideline for requirements analyses


A management assessment consists of different components. Depending on the company or consulting firm that has designed the management assessment, different instruments and modules are used. Usually, psychometric data, simulations (behavioral observations) and biographical information (biographical interview) should be used.

Case studies

There are two different types of case studies: the first describes a situation that the manager will face in the new position as closely as possible to the company, often based on actual facts and figures. The other deliberately confronts the applicant with a scenario from a different industry. The aim is to assess how the respective manager deals with situations beyond their previous experience, i.e. to deliberately take them out of their comfort zone.


Simulations are classic assessment exercises in which future requirements are presented in the form of a simulated/artificial situation, and the candidate’s behavior is then observed and evaluated. Examples of simulations are employee or conflict discussions, negotiation situations, but also inbox exercises. Case studies (see above) also belong to the simulative methods.

Crisis management

Even though management assessments should be as fair as possible, the aim is still to get participants out of their comfort zone to see how they react under pressure and stress, i.e. how capable they are of acting in crisis situations. In the interests of fairness and transparency, however, you should refrain from confronting participants with unannounced, surprising tasks.


Psychometric procedures are also often part of a management assessment. A distinction is made between personality and performance tests. Personality tests usually consist of statements for which the participant checks/clicks to what extent he/she agrees with them.

A personality profile is then created from the answers. For the participant, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers here – “you are who you are” and should not try to present an idealized image of yourself.

Performance tests measure a certain ability, for example logical thinking, dealing with numbers, but also (e.g. when selecting pilots) reaction speed, multitasking ability or spatial thinking.

Unlike personality tests, performance is assessed here, so you can score more or less well. Nevertheless, psychometric procedures are always only a small part of the overall picture that emerges in the management assessment; a poor result in a test does not necessarily mean a negative overall result.


Management assessments often include exercises in which participants are asked to present and describe themselves – e.g. their professional career or their strengths and weaknesses. This can be done verbally or in writing (or both, if it takes the form of a presentation ).


A personal interview is almost always part of a management assessment. The interview can take the form of a structured interview (the interviewer reads out the questions, the answers are evaluated according to a scheme), semi-structured (there are predefined questions and topics, but the interviewer can deviate from these during the interview) or unstructured (there are no predefined questions and topics).


Feedback to participants is an essential part of a management assessment. The results of the individual exercises/procedures should be explained as well as the overall assessment.

Standards for assessment centers

The “Forum Assessment” (an association of HR managers and consultants who deal with the topic of “assessment”) created standards for the implementation of assessment centers in 2016. These should also be taken into account when conducting management assessments.

graphic Mapping the standards in the management assessment
Mapping the standards in the management assessment

Fairness and transparency

Fairness and transparency are essential prerequisites for a professional management assessment. In order to arrive at a valid assessment and evaluation of a manager’s potential, skills and competencies, it is necessary to create an atmosphere in which the manager can also demonstrate their abilities.

Fairness and transparency are therefore not only essential for ethical reasons, but also increase the validity and benefits of management assessments.

Who should carry out a management assessment?

The planning and implementation of assessments in general is a structured, well-described process. However, the more experienced the candidates are and the more influential their position in the company, the more important experience is on the part of those carrying out the process.

In order to arrive at a valid assessment of a manager, it is not only necessary to have solid psychological training and knowledge of assessment processes, but also experience in dealing with (senior) management and knowledge of the respective business in order to be able to deal with the candidates “at eye level“.

Preparation for the management assessment

A management assessment evaluates suitability for a management position and identifies development potential.

Excursus: How do you prepare for a management assessment?

As a participant in a management assessment, you should find out exactly how the assessment is carried out, i.e. which procedures are used and who the observers/assessors are. Ideally, you will receive this information in advance without having to ask.

However, you should not go into such a procedure over-prepared. The observers should get to know the candidate, not only in terms of his/her abilities, but also in terms of his/her motivation.

Interview questions in particular are not about giving a “right” answer, but about enabling the interviewee to get to know the whole person with all their strengths and weaknesses.

Example of the process of a management assessment

Below is an example of the process of a management assessment with various tests and questionnaires (which are completed online by the candidate in advance), various exercises and an extensive interview:

Example of the process of a management assessment

Criticism of the approach

As helpful as management assessments are for safeguarding various personnel measures in the management area, the assessments and evaluations obtained from an assessment are not absolute and error-free. If possible, you should therefore use other sources of information (assessments from superiors or colleagues, references, work samples).

Criticism of management assessments is mainly voiced when the standards for assessments in top management are violated during implementation, e.g. when the procedures are not perceived as transparent and fair.

Further criticism is sometimes directed at those carrying out management assessments, for example if they lack qualifications (no psychological studies) or experience.


Management assessments look different in every company and in every consultancy, the selection of criteria, procedures and also the atmosphere in which they are carried out can be very different.

What all management assessments have in common is that the skills, competencies and potential of managers are assessed and evaluated in a structured process consisting of various instruments and exercises.

The most difficult and most important part of a management assessment is not the actual implementation, but its embedding in the respective company, i.e. the preparation, the briefing, the creation of the requirements profile, the gathering of complementary information about the participants and the handling of the results after the management assessment.