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How to complete pre-Employment assessments effectively

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

They may talk the talk, but without evidence of their skill to hand, it’s not always easy to tell whether a Candidate’s CV is simply too good to be true. Considering the costs of a bad hire, Employers cannot afford to have doubts in their chosen Candidate come the end of the recruitment process. If you are to make the right hiring decision, you might consider setting your shortlisted Candidates a pre-Employment assessment to determine their skill-level and suitability.Tests such as these come in many forms.

From online assessments that measure basic literacy and numeracy to psychometric tests and tasks set to reveal personality types, the method you choose will depend on the traits you prioritise as an Employer - in any case, it’s important to tread carefully. Assessment tests can help inform your decision, but they have their drawbacks.

Personality tests

In a bid to secure Candidates who “fit” the culture, hiring managers are increasingly reliant on personality tests as a predictor of job performance. Taken with a pinch of salt, these assessments can prove useful insight into how a Candidate might interact with others.

However, while tests such as the Four Quadrant (4-Q) and Myers-Briggs assessment may offer quantifiable data to support a “gut feeling”, Employers should know they are usually a poor indicator of job performance. What’s more, by explicitly seeking the traits they believe to be perfect for a particular job role, Employers effectively prioritise personality over potential and thus miss out on talented Candidates who may be eager to take on a new challenge.

Sample job tasks

Arguably, the simplest way to test the mettle of your Candidates is to set them a task that reflects the responsibilities of the role: a marketing professional might be asked to devise a campaign, for example, while a developer may be tasked with proving their skills on a piece of software. Sample job tasks allow applicants the chance to audition for the role - in essence, they let a Candidate’s skills do the talking and can save a hiring manager considerable time.

Skills assessments

General skills assessments that test a Candidate’s basic literacy, numeracy and attention to detail can be effective predictors of aptitude within a range of entry-level roles. However, as you seek to recruit for more specialised positions, the assessments you use to help inform hiring decisions will tend to focus on “micro-skills” – those that the Employee will need in order to complete the specific requirements of the role.

Naturally, the content of the tests will differ depending on the industry you operate in and position you are hiring for; it must be regularly updated in line with shifting market trends and technological advancements to stay relevant as a means of assessment.

Cognitive ability tests

Typical cognitive tests aim to reveal how well a Candidate can solve problems, make decisions and communicate with others. They usually come in the form of IQ tests that focus on abstract, verbal, spatial, mechanical and numerical reasoning as well as emotional intelligence. Should a Candidate score highly, a hiring manager gains reassurance of the value they could add to the business.

Aptitude assessments that test cognitive abilities are advantageous insofar as they put all Candidates on a level playing field: already, objective tests such as these have proven effective in minimising unconscious bias in the recruitment process while assisting hiring managers to find high-potential talent.

Achieving the right balance

The results of a Candidate assessment can play a critical role in swaying your decision: an applicant who showed vast potential in the interview may fall flat when it comes to proving their ability. Similarly, an applicant who may have left a mixed first impression due to nerves could surprise you with their performance in a pre-Employment assessment.

Still, that doesn’t mean results are always reliable: answers to multiple choice quizzes aren’t always honest, personality tests can be misleading and even sample job tests could be completed by external parties such as family members or friends in the same industry. While pre-Employment tests can and should feature in your recruitment strategy, they shouldn’t be the only factor to influences your decisions.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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