Candidate Experience vs. Candidate Quality? Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

When it comes to hiring in 2018, candidate experience is driving the bus. Failure to provide a good candidate experience can spell disaster for your hiring process and your brand. If you want proof, check out this cool little widget and model out the cost of negative candidate impressions.

While candidate experience is certainly crucial, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Quality of hire remains a core objective for any talent acquisition process. While many things contribute to quality of hire, pre-hire talent assessments are a key ingredient in ensuring candidate quality because they provide standardized, objective measures of mission critical characteristics.   

Pre-hire assessments are awesome because the improvement in candidate quality they provide has a direct measurable impact on the bottom line. Check out this simple ROI calculator to get an idea of the impact that a good talent assessment program can have on your business.  

While candidate experience and candidate quality are both important, pre-hire talent assessments typically detract from candidate experience. Pre-hire talent assessments erode candidate experience because no one likes taking tests, and because they:

  • Take too long
  • Are (typically) not fun or entertaining
  • Pass candidates off between several technology platforms
  • Don’t appear to be job related
  • Are (often) not all available on mobile devices

The above issues with candidate experience and advances in technology will ensure that pre-hire tests are going the way of the fax machine. In their place will be technologies that unobtrusively collect and interpret many pieces of data from applicants. Unfortunately, these technologies are not ready for prime time in 2018.

So, when it comes to talent acquisition this year, it is hard to have your cake (i.e., provide a good candidate experience) and eat it too (i.e., use pre-hire talent assessment as a quality filter).   

But the good news is that we’re at a gateway to a future where technology and creativity allow us to break the chains that have bound us for decades. For proof, here are some great ideas for capturing the power of pre-hire assessment while offering a positive candidate experience.

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  1. Embed assessment into your ATS  Get creative and work with an I/O psychologist to build psychometrically valid questions directly into your ATS’ screening capabilities.  
  2. Embed assessment into your recruitment marketing platform There are many platforms that overlay the ATS to help make the application process more fluid. Embedding psychometrically valid assessment questions directly into these platforms is absolutely doable.
  3. Use engagement-based tools such as chat bots, to deliver assessment items  You can arm chatbots to deliver assessment questions — providing a more engaging and dynamic dialogue with applicants while simultaneously screening them.
  4. Make it fun There are many options for turning talent assessment into a branded interactive experience. Realistic job previews and job simulations offer more than just your father (or mother)’s pre-employment test.  
  5. Make it invisible  There are now opportunities to use text analytics based tools to help parse apart resumes and use the information to support predictive hiring.

When reading the above list, caveats are in order:

  • These strategies are not the norm, but they are totally doable. Building a candidate-friendly process that includes easy-to-digest, validated assessment questions requires a blend of creativity, good science, and strong technology.
  • If you are building out predictive hiring tools and you don’t have an I/O psych linking the assessment questions to a job analysis and validating the items, you can expect sub par results that will put you at risk. There are lots of bright shiny AI-based tools out there claiming to be assessment tools. Unfortunately, many of them can create a great deal of risk.

Those who are bold enough to think outside the box will be rewarded with happy hires whose job performance will have an impact.


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Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.