3 Ways Hiring Assessments Fail You and Your Candidates

Each year, the team here at Talent Tech Labs looks at trends in talent acquisition and tries to predict what will make the most waves in the coming months. While we've been exploring which hiring assessment technologies are pushing boundaries furthest, we have found that there can sometimes be miscommunications between the technologies that exist and the needs of the users.

Though we see amazing potential and great success from some hiring assessment technologies, there are areas in which many assessment technologies miss the mark. Here are three big ones:

1. When Behavioral Assessments Have No Scientific Backing

Behavioral assessments allow organizations to understand the way a candidate works, to discern a candidate's values, and to get a glimpse of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. The behavioral assessments most likely to lead to good hiring decisions are those that look beyond personality and self-assessment. For example, many modern candidate assessments also give companies an in-depth look at their own habits and cultures, which allows employers to make more objective decisions about which candidates are right for them.

The behavioral assessments that fall short, on the other hand, are those that lack scientific support and only scratch the surface of a candidate's values, skills, and personality. An example of such an inadequate assessment would be the "4-Q assessment," which originated in ancient Greece and boils a person's behavior down to four categories. The categories have transformed over the years, but the process remains the same: uncover a respondent's style and preferences by having them choose which adjectives within a list most/least describe themselves.

These assessments are far too focused on self-assessment, and the results will fluctuate depending on the candidate's state of mind at the time of taking the assessment. These assessments also oversimplify behavior and personality traits, and they are some of the easiest tests to manipulate. While they can be fun and eye-opening in some situations, they should rarely be used to inform hiring decisions.

A good rule to remember: If the assessment cannot be accurately retaken and lacks an internal reliability measure, it is more of a self-discovery game.

2. When Hiring Assessments Aren't Candidate-Friendly

If a job seeker decides to apply for a job at your company, the application process itself will have a critical impact on their decision to accept a job offer from you. Candidates want lots of communication and shorter application and hiring processes. That means organizations need to put processes in place that are candidate-friendly and lead to great hires.

Hiring assessments have long been used to bridge the gap between candidate and employer, especially when offered early on in the application process. The right assessments give candidates the sense that the organization is not only interested in them, but also excited to learn about their values and see their skills in action. Meanwhile, the employer can use the results of these assessments to see how well the candidate aligns with the company culture and meets skill needs.

Many assessments are now mobile-friendly and present their behavioral and skills tests in the form of fun games. As a result, the applicant is able to submit useful information without feeling bored or frustrated by the assessment.

Unfortunately, not all hiring assessments provide that warm, fun, and welcoming feeling. In fact, some don't feel inviting at all. These assessments, with their hundreds of multiple-choice questions, resemble standardized tests instead of games. Many even ask borderline-discriminatory questions about a candidate's sex, race, and age. If your company makes applicants take these sorts of assessments, you won't inspire much, if any, passion in candidates. Assessments that gather information but don't consider the candidate will fail every single time.

As talent assessment analyst Dr. Charles Handler puts it, "Value from the hiring process is much more than just a chance to crawl around an applicant with a microscope. It is also a chance to provide someone with a positive experience and build your company's brand image."

3. When Assessments Don't Integrate With Your Other Hiring Technologies

As mentioned previously, organizations benefit the most when preemployment assessments occur in the beginning stages of the hiring process. For one, the talent acquisition team is able to quickly separate the best-matched candidates from those who might not thrive in the company's culture. Especially in the case of skill-based assessments, the hiring manager can decide if a candidate's experience and performance match, ensuring they move the process forward quickly with highly qualified and highly sought-after talent.

Additionally, engaging preemployment assessments have a positive effect on the candidate experience. If your applicants appreciate the assessment you administer, you not only gather great data early on, but you also leave a lasting positive impression – one that might even encourage a candidate to recommend your organization to their network.

If administering hiring assessments early on is so beneficial, why don't more organizations do it? Often, it's a matter of logistics. Many companies, especially those that make high-volume hires, use talent acquisition technologies like ATSs to support their recruiters and hiring managers. Hiring assessments that don't effectively integrate with these ATSs create extra steps in the hiring process, and they make it harder for talent acquisition teams to separate talent that fits from talent that doesn't. This means recruiters run the risk of wasting time on candidates who don't meet the culture or skill needs of the organization.

Hiring assessments, whether behavioral or skill-based, can help employers lower turnover rates and ensure better hiring decisions. It's a candidate-driven market out there, so finding the right tool for both your talent acquisition team and your applicants is pivotal to your hiring success. Don't go with any old assessment, either. Find one that doesn't commit one of the three mistakes listed above.

Brian Delle Donne is president of Talent Tech Labs.