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Lauren Reeves

PSI Talent Measurement

Principal Consultant

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Recruitment strategy: are we over-testing candidates?


Traditional candidate testing methods can be onerous for prospects and employers alike, and favour a certain type of person over other, equally or more suitable candidates. New technology allows us to change all of this.

We all want more data to drive our recruitment decisions. Information gathered through an assessment that provides a fully rounded view of every candidate.

Unfortunately, because many assessments are bespoke or niche, candidates are often required to undertake multiple tests. These take time to complete and HR teams then have the onerous task of analysing independent data sets to make an informed decision.

The positive news is that technology is now available that makes things easier on both sides of the recruitment divide.

Blended and multimedia assessments that utilise common components of different tests are a win-win approach. It helps assessors make more informed hiring decisions at the same time as creating a superior candidate experience.

Imperfect solutions

Organisations are starting to recognise that many traditional recruitment methods are out of date, overly expensive and just don’t work anymore.

For example, an interview alone isn’t great at testing a candidate’s soft skills. It’s time consuming and may not identify important weaknesses, such as a lack of organisational skills or an inability to collaborate with others.

Interviewer bias – conscious or unconscious – is also an issue, and not everyone knows the right questions to ask an interviewee.

Organisations must first identify their recruitment challenge and then locate the best solution – and technology – to solve the problem.

Just like interviews, face-to-face assessment centres can be stressful and demand a lot of time from recruiters and candidates alike.

They are incredibly expensive to run and at the same time won’t necessarily find you the best person for the job.

Outspoken, confident and extroverted people will always stand out, but that doesn’t make them the most competent candidates.

What’s more, this effect can undermine other more useful information that has been gathered during the recruitment process.

Don’t let tech take over

Whilst new technology has given us many answers, it’s important to remember that technology should always be a means to an end.

Gamification or the latest augmented reality tool might be fun, but it will definitely be expensive and is not necessarily the most effective solution for the role you are recruiting into.

Organisations must first identify their recruitment challenge and then locate the best solution – and technology – to solve the problem.

There’s no shortage of options that can work as standalone solutions or work together to provide a more comprehensive view of candidates.

Go virtual

Virtual Assessment Centres (VACs) are a great way to save time, money and resources.

Your organisation’s competencies and indicators can be incorporated into one online system that captures all of your data in one place.

It’s easy to add multimedia items, and check the quality and consistency of assessor scores and write-ups, and it’s simple to generate automatic feedback reports.

This increases governance and security as well as quality control, and you can then seamlessly integrate your assessment and development processes to identify training and support needs for new hires.

The latest VACs are also fully interactive. Candidates can be set tests that take up to three hours and involve managing an inbox, taking telephone calls, analysing documents or data, and preparing a presentation.

This gives you and the candidate a realistic idea of what ‘a day in the life’ would look like once they were in the role.

New technology also means that many VACs will fully integrate with your own Applicant Tracking System (ATS), presenting a strong employee brand to applicants.

Don’t ignore the science

VACs are a great solution when you need to sift a huge number of applicants, but executive recruitment comes with a far greater risk.

According to The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, a poor hire at even mid-manager level can cost a business more than £132,000 – with additional hidden costs related to productivity, training and increased staff turnover on top.

That’s why Executive Leadership Assessment (ELA) is an area where the tried and tested science of occupational psychology should not be ignored.

Multimedia SJTs are fairer than other assessment types and have the ability to make the recruitment process more inclusive and accessible.

Psychometric tests that help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate’s personality, behavioural tendencies and emotional intelligence (EI) are based on decades of research.

Regular revisions mean that many well-regarded tests have been updated multiple times since their original release. Soft skills, such as communication or interpersonal skills that have more recently been recognised as valuable, are given greater weighting.

Automated assessment, reporting and measurement methods are available to streamline the process and inform a face-to-face interview with a consultant psychologist, if needed.

Be realistic

While engaging the services of a consultant psychologist for a senior role might be cost effective, it’s not an option when you have a large number of applicants to sift. This is especially true if you are aiming to appeal to a broad and diverse range of candidates.

Multimedia situational judgment tests (SJTs) are an effective solution that explores how someone is likely to behave in workplace situations, similar to those they would encounter on the job, by assessing their ability to choose the most appropriate action.

Research has shown that SJTs are a reliable way of accurately predicting job performance and, when used innovatively and creatively, they can also give candidates an engaging experience that realistically portrays what a job and an organisation will be like.

Multimedia SJTs are fairer than other assessment types and have the ability to make the recruitment process more inclusive and accessible.

Use your data

Giving candidates feedback from SJTs, as well as results from any assessment process, is a simple and effective way to improve engagement and build your employee brand – whether they are successful or not.

Many applicants, in particular those who have grown up with access to information at their fingertips, will expect to know how they have performed. Providing feedback is an instant opportunity to further engage with this younger generation.

Assessment results can also be used to design and facilitate individual or group development programmes, and make individual recruits aware of their strengths and development needs.

This will increase motivation and engagement and create a commitment to growth and learning from the outset.

What does great look like?

The latest technology will allow you to gain a far deeper understanding of what ‘great’ looks like in your organisation.

Those behaviours can then be measured in your candidates, using a larger number of data points than any HR professional could ever possibly reference.

Occupational psychology is still needed, however, to ensure you are accurately benchmarking the strength of your current top talent and then correctly measuring and assessing candidates.

With the right tools and the right combination of science and tech, it’s possible to deliver a great candidate experience, recruit the best people and then start your new hires on a journey of development and growth that will retain them well into the future.

Interested in this topic? Read Avoiding “game over”: incorporating gamification successfully into recruitment and assessment.

One Response

  1. While a consultant
    While a consultant psychologist may be expensive for smaller role, there are some ways to work around this. At our company, we brought one in to manage group workshops that allowed the top talent to stand out from the group. So rather than have the consultant psychologist do one person at a time, we had her do groups of 8 to 12 at a time which was much more cost effective since she charged by the hour and not by the person.

Author Profile Picture
Lauren Reeves

Principal Consultant

Read more from Lauren Reeves
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