Improve Your Talent Acquisition Process with Assessments

Finding and retaining top talent is always going to be a priority for organizations that want to stay competitive. There are a variety of assessment tools available for recruiters and HR departments to simplify the process. Still, as with any tool, each will have its positive aspects and negative drawbacks. In order to be sure that the goals of the hiring process are being met, it is imperative for companies to have a strategy regarding assessments before selecting tools and methods.

Whether for selection of external talent, development of internal talent or use in succession planning, organizations need to take an integrated approach to assessment and must be able to answer the question: Why and how are we going to leverage assessments to attract, develop, and retain the talent that drives strategic business outcomes?

Why Talent Assessment Methods Matter

The business expense allocated to employee costs tends to be the largest overhead expense in every company or large organization, while also providing one of the greatest competitive advantages. Optimizing strategies for hiring and retaining top talent is crucial, as this process should lead to an overall improvement in employee performance by finding the best matches for individuals and positions, while also reducing the total cost of acquiring and retaining said talent. 

The assessment process must align with and help shape the current culture of the company. Whether the organization is undergoing a cultural transformation or has already established a productive and successful culture, recruiting candidates who are the right match is critical to building lasting relationships with top talent. This is essential for becoming an employer of choice, offering an engaging employment experience for current and future employees.

Simplifying the hiring process is another important aspect of talent assessment. A lengthy selection process can create extra work for the recruiting team and reduce the likelihood of securing high-demand candidates. Consequently, the remaining candidate pool may be of average or weak potential, as 57% of job seekers lose interest if the process takes too long. A slow hiring process can also damage your company’s image as an employer, as candidates frustrated by lengthy, complicated processes may share their experiences online, deterring top talent from applying. 

Start with an Assessment Strategy

Before deciding on a specific assessment tool to assess potential candidates, every organization should have a definitive plan to ensure that goals are reached, and this strategy must be agreed upon by key stakeholders and leaders of the company. For each opening, the specifics of the job – tasks, duties, core competencies, behaviors, skills and traits – must be spelled out so it’s clear to hiring staff and candidates what is required for the position. Next, the circumstances around the hire need to be determined. What is the available budget for the assessment process? How quickly does the position need to be filled? How many applicants are expected? Will internal assessment tools be used, or will tools be purchased from an outside vendor? How will the assessment be integrated with other talent management practices and tools? Will the assessment be used for both selection and development? How will you get managers to understand the link of the assessment process to talent acquisition and talent development efficacy?

Then it’s time to determine how candidates will be assessed, starting with core competencies and skills. This area will vary depending on the position being filled and how critical particular skills are, but in most cases, focusing on the most critical competencies that must be present upon starting should be the main goal. Not all skills and abilities are easy to measure, and others can be learned by the right candidate on the job. It can be helpful to build a success profile that details the critical skills and attributes that are most important to success in the position, along with an understanding of how the position may change over the next several years to ensure that the long-term goals of the company are being addressed.

Determining which tools to employ during the assessment process should be part of the overall strategy. These tools must reliably reveal the true competencies or deficiencies of a candidate while accounting for factors such as errors, anxiety, administration methods, and testing conditions like noise or temperature. Additionally, the tools should have high validity, meaning there should be a strong relationship between performance on the assessment and subsequent on-the-job performance.

It is also critical to understand how candidates will react to the assessment process. We have already discussed how top talent and in-demand candidates tend to drop out of lengthy processes, but even those with reasonable time frames can be a deterrent when used ineffectively. Organizations should recognize that the assessment process is also an opportunity for candidates to gather information about the company. They want to feel that the process is fair and that they have had sufficient opportunities to demonstrate their competencies.

For these reasons, it’s usually best to leverage technology early in the process to efficiently handle large volumes of applicants. This allows for quickly screening out those who lack the required skills, experience, and education, while bringing likely top performers to the forefront. This way, time- and labor-intensive processes can be reserved for when there are fewer candidates to evaluate. 

Assessments for Development

Although assessments are mainly associated with the selection process, they are becoming increasingly useful for employee development to identify and address skill gaps. Such assessments can be particularly useful for organizations that invest significantly in training and development, as they fine-tune training programs and ensure the right people receive the necessary training rather than deploying it department- or company-wide.

Periodically assessing employees measures their ongoing skills and abilities, providing feedback as they develop their careers. These assessments benefit the organization and help individuals reach their personal goals as they strive for positions with increasing difficulty and responsibility. By comparing an individual’s current skills and abilities with those required for the next step up the ladder, it becomes easier to take specific steps to acquire the necessary knowledge for the next promotion. 

Ensuring an Effective Assessment Process

To achieve the best results from any assessment process, especially those that are technology-heavy, it is important for applicants to have a realistic understanding of the process, the reasons behind the selection tools, and the importance of different skills and competencies for the position. Candidates should feel they have ample opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback. Ultimately, every individual should be treated with consideration and sensitivity throughout the process, and all hiring decisions should be communicated promptly to respect the applicants and protect the organization’s reputation as an employer.

Contact us to learn more about assessment strategies.