With darker and cooler evenings on the way, it’s no wonder that urge to curl up on the sofa with the TV remote sets in.
Luckily, it also means the reappearance of some of our favourite autumn TV series and last night saw the return of every dieter’s nightmare and guilty pleasure, the Great British Bake Off.
Now in its 4th run, this year the competition had more than double the number of applicants for the contest than in 2012 and it’s said that the calibre of this year’s bakers is the best yet. The task of picking the best baker can’t be an easy one (although surely very tasty) – so how exactly do they do it?
Each week, the contestants are tasked with three challenges; a Signature Bake, a Technical Challenge and their Showstopper. The challenges help to assess the contestants’ flair with flavours, confidence with consistencies, technical baking skills and decorative talents.
In a way, the competition has many similarities to the way an assessment centre works (albeit with less cake and blue plasters!).
Assessment centres are frequently used as part of the standard recruitment practice for many organisations and just like in Bake Off, they assess multiple capacities – using role and organisation specific competencies to evaluate candidates. For example, assessing technical ability alongside personal skills and qualities.
A range of activities related to the role, together with ability and psychometric testing, combine to test candidates rigorously and fairly. Commonly, assessment centres can consist of interviews, presentations, case studies, role plays, ability tests and group exercises.
Although the TV show mostly focuses on the contestants, screen time is shared with Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who are responsible for picking each week’s Star Baker and eliminating one (or possibly two!) dejected bakers.
Berry and Hollywood are both seasoned bakers and food writers and their knowledge and expertise mean they know exactly when a contestant’s offering is over-baked, under-proved or has Hollywood’s pet hate, the soggy bottom!
Both judges bring a range of skills to the table, from Mary’s extensive cake wisdom to Paul’s bread know-how and this allows them to judge the contestants fairly and consistently. The same is required for an assessment centre.
The key to an assessment centre is to try to get the most rounded view of the candidates as possible and this requires a range of assessors with different skills, including technical assessors and HR professionals.
It’s also important that assessors, particularly if they are not usually involved with interviewing potential candidates, are fully briefed on the assessment centre process before the day begins to ensure everyone is aware of the range of capabilities and skills being assessed. This enables the centre to run as efficiently as possible and means that review process at the end of the day is fair, objective and consistent for all candidates – allowing the organisation to make a more informed and accurate hiring decision.
Over the next few weeks we’re sure to remain glued to our screens on a Tuesday night, trying not visibly salivate and I can fully imagine the level of home-bakes in the office will be on rise, as a few of us attempt to put our own baking skills to the test.
But in the meantime, we’ll continue to stick with what we’re really good at – and that’s helping companies to run great assessment centres.
Heck, assessors and candidates can even get their own sweet treat fix during our assessment centre days….but thankfully it comes in the form of Chocolate Minstrels and not any of our own creations!