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What Rock ’n’ Roll and Virtual Assessment and Development Centers Have in Common

How technology and expertise are built into the heart of delivering the most talented team you have ever had.

Thunderstruck. That was the very first word that popped into my mind when I heard the abbreviation VACDC some time ago. At that moment I imagined a loud (virtual?!) crowd dancing and singing “Thunder!” to the rhythms of one of the world’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll bands, AC/DC.  Obviously, the abbreviation VACDC stands for Virtual Assessment Center(s) / Development Center(s) and not for the Aussie band.

I admit it, I was a bit reluctant and skeptical at first. How could something that was so fundamentally embedded in the face-to-face psychological practice make a switch to the virtual world? How could you replicate the quality, the validity, and the reliability of the measurements of the “real” world?

As a true technophile, I got pretty excited about the possibilities virtual solutions offered and the opportunities they presented to do assessments in an engaging and fun way. Most important of all, with the validity, the reliability, and the standards of face-to-face assessments.

Is It Possible to Do Even Better?

It was then that I thought about another favorite rock ‘n’ roll band of mine, Arctic Monkeys. They were heralded as one of the first bands to come to public attention via the Internet, instead of via the established face-to-face methods of the record labels and their agents. They promoted and marketed themselves in a completely different, creative, engaging, and fun way. So here it was again, rock ‘n’ roll. Also, working for SHL the past couple of years with all the creativity, innovation and buzz going on around the new (virtual) solutions we are constantly and consistently launching, does feel like rock ‘n’ roll to me.

So just maybe virtual solutions and rock ‘n’ roll bands have more things in common than we initially think they do. Both are based on two fundamental and essential principles that are key to success in today’s world. Technology and Expertise.


Virtual solutions and rock ‘n’ roll bands are both based on two fundamental and essential principles that are key for success in today’s world. Technology and Expertise.


When I first started implementing virtual assessment solutions, I realized how easy it was to set it up. How the solutions were complimenting me instead of restricting me by highlighting (non-verbal) behavior and expressions I had not initially noticed in a candidate. It reminded me of questions to ask, the competencies to check, capturing relevant information along the way and it was enabling me to go back after the session (or gig) and look at the strong aspects and what could be improved. I was looking at my candidate again with the aid of technology. I had the opportunity to double-check the assessment via a multitude of methods and thereby raise the standards of validity, reliability, and the quality of the end-product I was delivering.


This brings me to the second fundamental and essential principle. Expertise. A guitar won’t play itself it needs a human that plays it. This is no different for virtual solutions. There is a human, a psychologist, a professional expert in control. Even when solutions are (semi)-automated, an expert has designed and crafted these, and afterward needs to double-check the results. For that reason, we can eliminate questions like: “Is my expertise still valued?”, “Is it still needed to the same extent?”, “Is my role still relevant?” The simple and honest answer: YES, it is. Now more than ever, because we are taking the first steps in progressing our profession and how talent is and will be assessed and developed in the future. In that sense, our expertise is key to the successful implementation of virtual solutions.

Looking at virtual solutions today, and the possibilities and opportunities these create, I see an almost limitless landscape, where people across the globe can connect easily with each other. Candidates that are being assessed feeling more comfortable, because they are participating from a place and an environment they have chosen.

Furthermore, they feel that the virtual solution is enhancing the objectivity of the assessment because it “double-checks” the assessor. In addition, they view elements (e.g. presentations) as more relevant, clearly reflecting the typical duties the job entails, and as more representative of the new normal, we are all currently experiencing. Finally, I see a tendency in candidates that participate in virtual assessments to be more motivated, because they need to take a more proactive role in their assessment. Thus, technology and expertise complement each other to raise the bar, providing solid and fun experience in the process.

So next time you prepare for a virtual assessment/development center, whether you are the assessor or the candidate, put on some rock ‘n’ roll (or any other music you love), gear up, and walk on stage… And keep in mind that you are an expert or in the hands of an expert, and about to use state of the art technology to do something nobody thought possible ages ago.

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Lucas Ellinikakis

Lucas is a Senior Consultant at SHL and has been working in the field of talent assessment and development for more than 8 years. As a coach and a psychologist, he has worked for a range of industries from high tech companies to retail and e-commerce. The fields of (organizational) psychology, behavioral analytics, and diversity (especially functional and neuro) have his particular interest. He enjoys thinking about “the future of work” and how technology and society will shape this concept. Combining all of this, he collaborates and co-innovates alongside our clients to help their organizations and people unlock their potential.

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