If we could read minds, recruitment would be so much simpler. We would be able to know how much a candidate’s knowledge actually is, whether or not they are telling the truth on their resume, and find out if they’re really looking to commit or thinking to leave after a year.
Sadly, that’s not how real life works. Even though advancements in technology and Industry 4.0 has brought huge waves of disruption and changes and new jobs and markets and industries, recruitment retains many of its traditional challenges. For one, we can’t be 100% sure if the enthusiasm in the interview is genuine or only superficial. We can’t read minds, so until we can, we need assessments in hiring to help recruiters overcome these challenges and talents to have a better experience.
Assessment is a very important element of hiring, so much so that 82% of companies are using pre-employment tests in their recruitment process. It is not only useful in measuring the candidate’s task-related skills, but also their culture fit and job fit which are equally important factors in determining the quality of hires. In Asia Pacific alone, 40% of companies assess their candidates on culture fit and personality, according to the Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report in 2018.
What is assessment?
Assessments are a tool for employers to evaluate a candidate’s quality before committing to an employment relationship with them. Investing in an applicant who turned out to be a poor performer would be a disaster, so assessment serves as a way for companies to gauge whether candidates would be able to do their jobs well. Interestingly, assessments also let candidates evaluate the companies they’re applying for.
In measuring a candidate’s competency to perform a job, recruiters are looking for two main things: technical and behavioral competencies. Technical competencies are hard skills and knowledge directly related to the tasks of a job itself (e.g. ability to use software, speak a language, or operate equipment). Assessments that measure technical competencies are something like exams on a topic, TOEFL, and other specific tasks.
Behavioral competencies, on the other hand, are soft skills such as attitudes, personality, and working style. These competencies are not directly related to specific tasks, rather more universal in relation to a candidate’s fitness and performance, and are very important in predicting a candidate’s success rate. Examples of these are leadership, teamwork, stress tolerance, and risk aversion. Assessments that measure behavioral competencies include tests for personality, work values, culture fit, and more.
Why is assessment important for hiring?
It’s fair to say that assessment is obviously important in hiring given that we see it all the time. Think about it: when was the last time you applied for a job without being asked to complete some form of test, or recruit people without requiring them to do tests? Still, there must be some reason why assessment is so important. In fact, there are lots of them.
In this section, we’ll divide those reasons into two: why technical and behavioral assessments are important, respectively. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. Determine candidate quality
How can you tell if a candidate is good, especially if you’ve never seen them work before? Interviews are subjective in nature and aren’t immune to cliches or “trick” answers, and are more suited for evaluating job and culture fit anyway (as opposed to hard skills). Resumes are also highly exaggerated, with a survey revealing that over 86% of recruiters have discovered false entries on a candidate’s resume.
The surest way to know if a candidate is any good for a job is to actually see them do it. This is what technical assessments are for. If you’re recruiting for copywriters, you’d ask them to write a sample copy. For sales, candidates would be asked to pitch. For devs, their assessment might be to write some code. People may exaggerate in their resume (or they may be too humble in the interviews), but their performance in the technical tests will tell their true skill.
Of course, technical skills alone are not the only determinant in whether the candidate will be the right addition for a certain company — behavioral assessments must be taken into consideration to form a fair and complete evaluation.
2. Easy comparison and filtering
Assessments allow recruiters to effectively compare candidates, rank them, and save time by focusing on the best ones early on (filtering). Imagine trying to compare candidates based only on resume and interviews. Resumes come in different shapes and formats, and therefore can’t be standardized and easily compared; same with interviews.
With assessments, recruiters can simply distribute standardized tests to the candidates and receive quantified results. Using solid data instead of gut feeling, candidate comparison and ranking is easier, more accurate, and more reliable with assessments.
3. Help out your recruitment team
The ones to feel the benefits of assessment first and foremost will be your recruitment team. Assessments would help make their jobs easier by saving time and letting them focus on the important things, clearly quantifying results, and increasing the accuracy and quality of hires.
You’re letting your recruitment team know that you care about them. By taking assessments seriously and providing them with the best scientific assessment tools mean you recognize that their work is important. This kind of motivation could do more than just financial incentives, which would do good in improving performance and bringing in even better hires.
4. Applications beyond recruitment
What’s even better is that assessments are also useful outside of hiring. For instance, it’s a very useful tool for promotions (which is basically just internal recruiting) since you want to be sure to only promote people who are ready for a higher responsibility. Assessment is equally important for mapping or relocating someone to a different position, because like recruitment, it looks at how they would fit into the new job.
5. Job and culture fit
Having the skills alone doesn’t automatically mean that a candidate is good. Well, they may be good in terms of tasks, but are they the right one for you? A quality candidate must also have the right fit with their new career in your company, besides the ability to perform tasks well. Notably, the right fit should be with the job itself and the company culture — we call it Person-Job and Person-Culture fit.
As their names suggest, job and culture fit explains how someone’s personality, traits, and values are suited with the nature of the job and the culture of the company. Someone who scores high in Extraversion would naturally be better suited for jobs with high social interaction and involvement, such as sales. Similarly, someone who highly values personal freedom and creativity would fit great in companies with the Innovative culture type, where they’re encouraged to be independent and experiment with ideas.
Job and culture fit is important because it lets the candidate utilize their skills and capabilities, and even encourage them to give more. How? It’s simple: having a career that’s aligned to what you believe in would bring happiness and fulfillment, and that’s more effective in improving performance compared to just financial benefits.
Read more about the benefits of culture fit in our previous article.
Measuring technical competency is one thing — they are straightforward enough to tell who’s good and who’s not, but to measure something like personality is an entirely different game. When we talk about someone’s personality or values, there are no clear right or wrong answers. You can’t say that someone’s personality is “wrong”, and it’s not rare that some recruiters mistake job and culture fit as simply if they’d ‘like’ working with this person.
We need a clear way to measure and quantify these personal qualities, and thankfully there is one: it’s called psychometrics (psychology + metrics). We don’t have to rely on gut feeling anymore and hope it goes well in probation. Today, we can clearly see what kind of traits a job needs, and if a candidate possess that trait, all in data.
7. Retaining new hires
Employee turnover is an issue that all companies face, and this is exacerbated by the job-hopping millennials and the upcoming Generation Z. They have many reasons to change jobs every couple of years, from better pay to new challenges, but one notable factor is the lack of culture fit.
A study found that 58% of employees in the UK alone would gladly work for the competitor if they have a better culture fit with them. Imagine that you hired someone, spent time and money to train them, and before having contributed anything of significance, they left you for your competitor because they don’t feel that they belong in your company.
Investing in a culture assessment system would allow companies to focus on candidates who would be a good fit to their company in the first place, which helps retain new hires and reduce turnover.
8. Candidate experience
The way companies run their recruitment processes will affect the experience of candidates, both positively and negatively. Just as candidates are eager to make a good first impression in interviews, recruitment is also a way for companies to leave a positive impression on its candidates. Assessments would help companies create a positive candidate experience with not only a streamlined, fuss-free process, but also by giving candidate feedback based on the quantified results of their assessments.
Why should companies care about how candidates feel? As it turns out, candidates are also customers. In 2014 Virgin Media found that 6% of their candidates are their customers too, and those unsatisfied with the recruitment experience unsubscribed and cost them £4 million in lost revenue. A positive candidate experience would not only avoid such losses, but also increase employer branding and help attract the best talents possible.
9. Attract top talent
Using the best standards of assessments signify that a company is dedicated to the quality of their talent and is up-to-date with the latest developments in recruitment. By relying on objective and data-driven assessments, candidates can be assured that a company is fair and professional in their hiring practices.
On the other hand, if a candidate came in for assessment and found out the company is using the outdated draw-a-tree-and-a-person test, or if they had to take MBTI (which is not at all valid and reliable), they might start doubting if the company really knows what they’re doing.
10. Prevent bad hires
This is perhaps the biggest reason why assessment is important, both technical and behavioral: preventing bad hires. No company wants to invest hours in recruitment, money in training, and everyone else’s time in probation only to find out that the new guy is performing poorly, difficult to work with, or is leaving after the first paycheck.
In fact, research has shown that the cost of one bad hire can be up to 9 months’ worth of salary, or even 24 months’ (for executive positions). How? This is not only the financial and (quantified) time resources lost in paycheck and training, but also the resources spent during the sourcing process, selection, the salaries of recruiters and interviewers, cost of replacement, lost productivity, and more. That’s not even counting the impact on morale of what your people might think when they see someone leaving.
By employing assessments in hiring, companies can rest assured that their recruitment would be more accurate and they would be able to determine with confidence that new hires have the skills, the culture fit, and the commitment to stay.
Should I make my own assessments?
Building your own assessment is a massive undertaking and requires large investments in resources, time, and knowledge. Creating a competent measurement tool needs years of research before even starting, and then the numerous statistical tests and re-designing after would require a dedicated team.
Generally, it’s not advised to attempt to create an assessment if not yet ready to commit a significant investment. A company might erroneously reuse existing questions (items) from another source (a book or someone else’s test), but without the required psychological expertise, the poorly made measurement tool would be invalid and unreliable, and would give poor results. In the worst case, poorly made assessments may even be unintentionally discriminating.
The best option is to leave the matter to the experts. Specialized assessment platforms like Dreamtalent has developed assessments specific for recruitment, mapping, and job forecasting based on the scientifically acclaimed Big Five model. The years of research and test creation is already done beforehand, so companies may benefit from assessments developed by our expert psychology team without having to build one from scratch. By accurately measuring candidate personality, intelligence, and values, assessments such as Dreamtalent would be invaluable in helping companies hire the right talents for the right positions.