What Talent Assessment Tools Are Available?
There are many talent assessment tools available. There are more tools from individual companies than anyone would want to count. Regardless of how many brands of tools there are, they break down into several categories, for the most part.
Which one, or ones, companies choose depends on their unique needs, what kinds of candidates they want to move forward with, the work environment, and what they need recently hired people to do.
Concerning resumes and cover letters, candidates can subjectively write whatever they want to paint the rosiest picture possible. Most hiring departments know that trusting what candidates say about themselves is problematic. What to do?
Let’s look at some options.
A job simulation is a great way to cut through all the noise and see what a person can do. When you reach such a point, the candidate has probably endured until the final stages of the hiring process.
You want the applicant to pretend to be the person who does a job and evaluate performance. Typically, you will give the applicant a unique but realistic challenge to overcome rather than observe routine tasks.
If the method sounds familiar, everybody has probably had an interview where a “What would you do if…” question came up. Essentially the same thing, but rather than listen to, potentially, empty words, you have the opportunity to put the person in the situation and evaluate.
Hiring teams might use a one-way video for a job simulation by recording a response to a challenge. In the case of interviewing for a sales position, you could ask the candidate to create a sales pitch for a product the company sells in real life.
Most people are familiar with work samples in the sense that if you apply for a job where applicants have a portfolio, presenting said portfolio often uses the word “samples.” Work samples as assessment tools are a bit different because many jobs don’t involve the type of work that involves a portfolio.
Rather than presenting samples, candidates complete a sample. Most companies heavily allocate resources to evaluating work samples, so candidates have probably already inspired confidence.
An example of a work sample is providing a picture that portrays people discussing a problem with quotes from the discussion. After reading the discussion, the candidate responds to questions about how to handle the situation. Since such a variety of answers will likely come in, a team, or teams, typically evaluate the quality of the responses.
Online Skills Assessments
Imagine you have a position open, and hundreds of applicants send in resumes. All you can do, swamped with so much paperwork is think, ‘there has to be a better way.’
There is, and what makes skills assessments valuable is that they often allow the highest quality candidates to shine, so they can continue to the interview stage with less hassle.
You can set up just about any kind of test you want to gauge a person’s cognitive ability, social skills, coding knowledge, or crisis management. You can use pre-written tests or design your own to gather the specific information you need.
Cognitive tests look for reasoning, comprehension, and problem-solving skills. Other options gather information about situational judgment pertaining to business and leadership. The business part emphasizes judgment, ethics, and compliance. The leadership section looks for decision-making and people management skills.
There are also tests that cut straight to the point and look for role-specific skills meaning that applicants have the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge in programming, software, etc. Another type of test allows employers to use a standard like the Big 5 OCEAN personality test to help understand how a person might fit into the company culture.
With so many options and tests available, one temptation to avoid is over-testing applicants and making the process too difficult or confusing. At a certain point, applicants will tire out and seek the path of least resistance, which likely means deciding not to continue trying to work for you.
I recommend selecting one test that gathers the best information for the job. If you feel one test does not meet your needs, a second test is acceptable, and applicants should not feel overwhelmed.
One-Way Video Interviews
Before the pandemic, asynchronous interviews existed, but companies used them sporadically. Not anymore, since face-to-face interactions have plunged, video interviews became a useful tool to assess talent.
The process is simple. An employer comes up with a set of questions to give to applicants online. The applicants answer the questions in video format, and recruiters can review the answers at their leisure and as many times as necessary.
Some companies even use AI face detection software to make guesses about a person’s personality based on facial expressions. There are concerns about programming bias with this type of AI. However, technology tends to improve over time, so any shortcomings that exist now may improve.
For this type of assessment, employers arrange for a candidate to participate in the workplace under observation and supervision. The duration could be half or a whole day, whatever the employer needs. It is common for the employer to pay the applicant for the work.
Job trials usually only happen when an employer has chosen the final candidates for a position. Trials work well for blue-collar jobs such as plumbing, carpentry, or machining where the employer gets the opportunity to watch the applicant physically work.
However, an employer can use a trial for any type of position to see how applicants interact with members of the team in combination with displaying skills.
What Are Some of the Most Popular Talent Assessment Tools?
Regardless of which methods companies use to find talent, the interview is usually the final step or one of the last steps. The idea, especially in a crowded field of applicants, is to quickly, efficiently, and cheaply pluck the best candidates out of the field and move toward hiring.
Currently, there are a lot of companies using methods such as phone screening and behavioral interviews heavily in the hiring process. The problem is that giving too many candidates one-on-one time with recruiters uses up a lot of resources and quickly gets expensive.
What’s more, due to inevitable bias, good candidates might not pass the initial round of phone screening. Recruiters waste more valuable time sifting through resumes to compile a list of people to call. Next, they schedule screenings before meeting a single applicant. The whole process is inefficient.
When companies use talent assessment tools, they tend to use behavioral, knowledge, and personality tests in equal measure. One of the most important tests, cognitive abilities, gets used but not enough.
If more companies learn to rely on these tools, finding talented people who make good fits will allow companies to process high numbers of applicants more easily.
How Do These Tools Help Organizations Identify Top Talent?
Online skills assessments, a broad term that encompasses behavioral, knowledge, and personality tests, usually come early in the application process. Usually, an applicant provides some personal information and takes one or two tests.
While recruiters should look at resumes and academic achievements, such information does not tell a recruiter what kind of person the applicant is or how well they will fit into the company.
One of the easiest examples is to imagine a computer programmer applying for a job. The company gives an online knowledge assessment test that asks specific coding questions in multiple-choice format with only one right answer. If the applicant answers every question correctly, while other applicants don’t, the company knows how to proceed.
Qualified people only have to write the test once, and an automated system administers the tests and does the scoring. The employer immediately benefits. They have saved tons of time and found the applicants with the most knowledge.
If the next stage moves on to interviews, the hiring team knows every applicant possesses the necessary knowledge and can focus on other factors like experience and personality.
What Are Some of the Potential Drawbacks of Using Talent Assessment Tools?
Imagine you are a mechanic, and you have a large tool case on wheels with hundreds of pounds of tools inside. Somebody tells you that they cannot connect one pipe to another and need help.
With great effort, you wheel over your entire tool case instead of packing a few appropriate tools into a bag. Bringing the heavy tool case is overkill. The same thing happens when hiring teams rely on too many tools.
One side of the problem is relying on tools to do too much work. The other side of the problem is using too many tools. Besides, if you have too much data from too many sources flooding in, people don’t have time to absorb everything. Unused data still costs money.
With too much data from too many tools overwhelming hiring teams and management, a lack of software familiarity occurs as well. People get used to using programs one at a time, slowly at first and gradually improving.
If you add more data from more assessment tools, people might not understand what they are looking at and get frustrated. As a company, you might go through an arduous process of deciding upon only one or two assessment tools that improve efficiency and save money.
Going through the process is worthwhile because you do not want to be like the mechanic who shows up with too many tools.
How Can Organizations Ensure that They Are Using These Tools Effectively?
Companies need to understand which tools work best for different job positions. For example, the set of tools that yields great results for an entry-level hire may not work well when hiring for a management position.
Managers face different challenges and have to make different kinds of choices than lower and entry-level employees who usually have specific tasks to complete. Mixing in a personality test while using experience to gauge an applicant for a management position might work better than trying to devise a skills test.
The next misuse, which often happens, is that companies collect a lot of data when hiring that they often forget about after hiring. If you hire someone who has the experience and knowledge to do the job but lacks experience in a specific area, like AI, you can use the data to your advantage.
Instead of assuming a person will pick up the AI experience they need on the job, the employer can craft a training plan that integrates into the first few months of work. Training plans help people improve in a positive way. In the end, you will have stronger employees.
The same approach works for personality tests. You may have learned from the test that your new employee works well in groups but does not do as well alone. You can use this knowledge to create a more well-rounded employee who, after going through a training plan, adds the ability to take on solo projects along with already being a good team player.
What Are Some of the Latest Trends in Talent Assessment?
Talent assessment constantly evolves because companies continuously collect data and find ways to learn new lessons. Implementation of new knowledge is more tricky than collecting data, but the process comes naturally as people tend to learn, grow, and improve.
Focus on the Abilities of Learning, Agility, and Curiosity
Curiosity is one of the most important factors in gaining employees who can pick up new skills. In an ever-changing marketplace, one of the worst qualities employees can possess is a static mindset of wanting to learn a set of skills and get by without having to grow and evolve.
The fact of the matter is that companies can keep training employees to add new skills but driven and curious people need to identify weaknesses and improve themselves as well.
Use Job-Relevant Assessments to Improve Candidates' Experiences
A job-relevant talent assessment asks candidates real-life questions that pertain to the job they will do if hired.
Many people walk away from the job application process having had a negative experience. They share these negative experiences with their friends and family, and companies develop reputations.
Job-relevant assessments provide transparency which gives candidates a better understanding of the workplace. A better understanding creates more positive experiences.
Implement Gamification to Improve Engagement
Gamification does not mean turning assessments into games or playing games during the hiring process. Gamification takes the most fun and addictive aspect from games, leveling up and receiving rewards, and implements that psychology into talent assessment.
Over time, companies realized that engagement is a two-way street. The candidate has to have enough motivation and interest to stay the course, but the company has a responsibility to keep things interesting.
When applicants feel more engaged, stronger competitors tend to stand out more, and identifying talent becomes easier.
Improve Fairness to Achieve Better Diversity and Inclusion
Improving diversity and inclusion comes down to fairness and objectivity when making hiring decisions. The key is to use or construct tests that utilize factors such as essential competencies to help find candidates for jobs. Good tests focus on role requirements, behavior, and motivating factors.
By placing more importance on candidate competence, factors such as education and experience take a back seat. After implementing such an approach, diversity and inclusion tend to increase.
Using AI to Help Assess Talent
AI has gotten good enough to perform some of the tasks recruiters used to do, such as AI chatbots. As previously stated, implementing AI and letting predictive programming collect data and make some decisions can improve transparency.
Most AI systems do not record or score visual cues to avoid bias. They only collect data from responses. Hiring managers can compare the results and conclusions AI reaches to a model of what makes the ideal employee for each position.
Construct Better Tests from Previously Mined Data
Previously mined data means that HR departments collect vast amounts of data on current employees. They can match results such as personality test results versus monthly sales totals. The best part is that companies already have the data and continue to collect more on a routine basis.
Then hiring departments can reverse engineer the data because they already know which employees get the best results month after month. All they have to do is draw conclusions about which aspects of their tests during recruitment indicate future job success.
Once companies know which answers from which questions from what kind of tests resulted in a quality hire, they can create better tests and find quality talent by learning to ask the right questions. Learning to ask the right questions is one of the most difficult challenges to master.