Want Success With Pre-Hire Assessments? Keep it Simple

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Apr 20, 2017

If you want a quick scorecard on your existing pre-hire assessment, or one you are considering, your first move should be to put yourself in your candidates’ shoes and take the assessment yourself.

When you are finished with this exercise, ask yourself “How does this experience compare with other technology-based consumer experiences that I engage in everyday?”

It would not be shocking to hear that your assessment experience seemed a bit old fashioned when compared with the rest of the technology you use to get things done.  

In many ways little has changed since I wrote the “Pre-Employment Assessment Candidate Bill of Rights” back in 2011. Six years later candidates are still frustrated by a process that often:

  • Provides little real information about what the assessment is and why it’s important
  • Requires multiple logins for the different systems used in the hiring workflow
  • Offers a very plain looking mobile UI and poor mobile UX
  • Serves up questions that seem to have little to do with the job
  • Takes over 30 minutes
  • Provides little to no feedback about how they performed and what comes next

These days candidates are driving the bus when it comes to the value of your employment brand. That’s right: applying for a job is a consumer experience, and you are kidding yourself if you underestimate the consequences of a poor candidate experience.  

When your applicants bail before they complete your assessment, guess where they are going after they pull the ripcord? That’s right, straight to your competition. A poor candidate experience also opens the door for the longer-term brand erosion that comes when frustrated applicants share their dissatisfaction.

While the norm for assessment user experience is still somewhat depressing, the good news is that the demand for consumer grade experience has been driving meaningful change. In today’s world it is becoming easier to than ever to tap into the awesome business value of assessments while also engaging applicants in an exercise that actually amplifies your brand.

These days the formula for a winning assessment program is simplicity. While the computer and data science behind the scenes of the hiring process is growing more complex, keeping it simple on the surface is definitely the path to success. Keeping the process simple for your internal stakeholders is also critical to ensuring the overall success of your assessment program. Building your program around the following touch points will help you to create a pre-hire assessment program that will create value through simplicity.

User Friendly for Candidates

Assessments must be user friendly and offer a UX that is consistent with the rest of the experiences consumers have when they interact with your firm via technology. Keeping the assessment experience simple requires that it be:

  • Short no more than 15 minutes for a top of funnel screen for entry-level positions
  • Mobile easily accessed via a mobile-first UI
  • Branded provides some insight to the candidate about the job and what it’s like to work for your company
  • Engaging offers an experience that allows the user to forget they are taking a test

Laser Focused on Key Differentiators of Success

For assessments to deliver value, they have to be keyed directly to the human elements that are required for success on the job. The best way to ensure success is to base your assessment on a job analysis study that documents what high (and low) performance looks like. While the job analysis process itself can be time consuming, using the information provided by the process does not have to be complicated. A good job analysis should provide a clear picture of the the things that differentiate superstars and the reasons why people fail on the job. This information is a great foundation for building simplicity into your assessment program because it provides you with a clear picture on the stuff that really matters.

Simple for TA to Use

Your internal stakeholders are consumers too, and simplicity really helps to gain their buy in. Success with assessments also requires that results are easy to access and simple to interpret. The more complex and unwieldy assessment data is, the more likely it is to be ignored or misused.

It has become easier than ever to integrate assessment data into the workflow of your hiring process. Assessments are easily integrated into most ATSs, and in most cases one simple score is integrated into the recruiter’s view of each candidate. If more information is needed, a simple one-page report with more details is typically available via the ATS’s candidate view.  

Simple candidate results are often all that are needed to make decisions at the top of the funnel. But the value does not end there. The simple assessment data captured early on in the hiring process can still add value as the process unfolds. For instance, data captured from an initial screening assessment provides a valuable way to cross-check new data collected as the candidate progresses through the rest of the checkpoints in the hiring process.

Tied Directly to Business Metrics

It’s hard to avoid the term “validated” when working with assessments  Validation is an important cornerstone of any assessment program, providing legal compliance and business insight. But information from the validation process can get pretty complicated and is not always the most appropriate way to show its direct value to your bottom line. Winning assessment programs tie the simple things they evaluate directly to a few key metrics that define value from the position. It could be as simple as lowering attrition, or making more sales, or even reducing the time required to make a hire. Showing a simple and direct relationship between test scores and the metrics the business uses to define success for the position is a formula that wins every time.   

Assessments can be a very complex subject matter. When you throw in the number of vendors entering the field and the advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning that are finding their way into the mix, navigating the waters of assessment can seem pretty complicated.  Ultimately, no matter what direction you take, success with assessment in today’s world requires satisfying applicants, TA, and the business with simple solutions that are user friendly and show direct value.  

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