What is a Professional Development Assessment?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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A professional development assessment is typically a series of specific tests used to identify areas of strength and weakness in the candidate's skill set. This process is often the first stage in developing a professional development career or training plan. Professional development is a term used to describe the skills all employees have gained through formal education, work, and personal experiences. The field of professional development is well known in educational circles, and the methods used to assess these skills are also used in career planning and psychological evaluations.

There are three kinds of tests used as part of a professional development assessment process: intelligence, personality, and organizational style. The actual tests used to evaluate staff varies, depending upon the background of the assessor, the desired outcome, and the sponsor of the tests. In general, professional development assessments can be conducted by a psychologist or career counselor, at the request of the individual, an employer, or a professional association.

Intelligence tests are often used to evaluate candidates' suitability for senior or management roles. While most people immediately think of intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, many experts believe that these tests are culturally biased and do not provide a good indicator of intelligence. Recently, there has been a shift toward emotional intelligence and critical thinking as better tools in the workplace. Measuring these two types of intelligence is done through a combination of written and oral interview sessions.


The Myers-Briggs personality test is an industry standard and is an accepted tool for identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas of potential difficulty. The questions are designed to draw out the person's core values, beliefs, preferences, and dislikes. There are no right or wrong answers in this type of professional development assessment, but this is an unbiased way to identify areas the candidate might want to focus on.

Organizational style preferences used to be called leadership skills evaluation, but the term did not truly capture the information gathered in this assessment tool. Not everyone wants to be a leader, but we all have our own preferences for our role within an organization. Finding the type of organization that will allow you to work at your best is an important part of any professional development assessment.

The tests themselves are typically conducted over a period of several days, as thought and reflection is necessary to obtain a useful response from the candidate. The results are usually considered confidential and are restricted to the human resources and staff development department if they were conducted at the request of an employer. Review the fine print before the start of the process to find out who will have access to the assessment results.


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