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How to Use Assessments for Better Talent Acquisition

Tuesday August 21st, 2018

Estimated time to read: 3 minutes

When you hear the phrase "hiring assessment," what comes to mind? More than likely, you're thinking of long, boring multiple-choice questionnaires that all seem to ask relatively useful questions but never really give you the right answers. For many years, that's exactly what an assessment was – a piece of paper or an online module that was supposed to tell you who to hire based on some algorithm that you may not have even fully understood. In the recent years, many companies have left these assessments in the past as it became more obvious that the tests were easily manipulated and often didn't illicit honest responses or didn't provide enough job specific information to gauge an applicant's qualification for a given position.

Just because multiple choice tests are out doesn't mean that assessments have no value for your hiring process. Here are two other great ways to use assessments to improve your talent acquisition process.

Put Them to Work

Obviously, you can't ask an applicant to work unpaid while you sit back and watch before offering them an official position. But one useful skills assessment to implement during your hiring process is the use of simulations or work samples.

A work sample is a scenario where your job applicants are given job-related tasks to complete within the office. It can often include interacting with other coworkers, solving a problem, using programs required for the job or even jumping in on a team meeting to contribute ideas. The beauty of a work sample is that you can completely tailor it to meet your precise needs. Additionally, it gives you a full view of how each applicant will fit into the company culture and is an excellent predictor of job performance.  So, you're not just basing your decisions on a written exam that most applicants can manipulate to feed you answers.

A simulation is similar to a work sample in that it sets up job-related scenarios through which the applicant must navigate. However, it is not done in the workplace and is often completed offsite. It mirrors the workplace and job requirements but does not place the applicant directly in front of the existing team. This is another great option because it's a low-pressure assessment where the applicant can focus on working their way through potential scenarios and problem-solve without the watchful eye of the whole team.

Both types of assessments, whether in the office or offsite, are excellent indicators of how a candidate operates under pressure and demonstrates their ability to prioritize and multitask. It presents the information in a way that makes it feel tangible to you and your hiring team. This is a marked improvement over multiple-choice tests that often only give you a glimpse of the aptitude of any given applicant.

Give Them a Problem to Solve

Problem-solving tests are another excellent way to gauge whether or not an applicant is the right fit for your company. Simply put, your employees encounter problems in their work. Whether big or small, there will always be roadblocks, conflicts, and questions as your employees move through their day. It's important to know for certain that the candidates you bring into the company culture are capable of problem-solving on their own. You're looking for people who don't take no for an answer, who look for a window when a door closes, and who persevere to complete their goals no matter the obstacles.

The best way to find new hires who possess those qualities is by giving them real world situations to solve. Present them with a few actual scenarios, perhaps ones you've faced yourselves or ones you've helped mediate within the company. Using real scenarios will not only mold the experience for you to assess whether the applicant could thrive in your workplace, but it may also be enlightening for you if the applicant is innovative in their thinking and solves the problem in a better way. It's a win-win situation for you as a hiring manager.

Problem-solving tests demonstrate potential job performance and highlight leadership qualities as well as allow the applicant to shine in the areas of innovation, intelligence, insight, and composure. There is no multiple-choice test that can accomplish quite so much. Since this type of assessment is low cost, it is a great way to screen a large number of applicants to narrow down your choices.

Whether you use a simulation for your applicants or you put them to the test by presenting a problem for them to solve, either assessment can provide you with a clearer image of the candidate sitting before you in an interview. It will instill confidence in your decisions as you move towards hiring talent that you know is perfect for the job and away from hiring an applicant who happened to select the right number of A's, B's, or C's on a written exam. Move beyond the simple question and answer method of assessing new talent, and update your hiring process to ensure that the perfect candidate joins your team.