Exercises are key components of assessment centers (ACs). However, little is known about the nature and determinants of AC exercise performance. The traditional exercise paradigm primarily emphasizes the need to simulate task, social, and organizational demands in AC exercises. This chapter draws on trait activation theory in proposing a new AC exercise paradigm. First, we develop a theoretical framework that addresses the complexity of situational characteristics of AC exercises as determinants of AC performance. Second, we argue for planting multiple stimuli within exercises as a structured means of eliciting candidate behavior. Third, we show how the new paradigm also has key insights for the rating part of ACs, namely, in selecting dimensions, designing behavioral checklists, screening assessors, and training assessors. Finally, the impact of this new AC exercise paradigm is anticipated on important AC outcomes such as reliability, internal/external construct-related validity, criterion-related validity, assessee perceptions, and feedback effectiveness.
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