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What you need to know about the changing role of assessment

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Assessment has evolved: Discover how HR, recruitment and talent teams are finding new and better ways to utilise its value.

The role of the modern day assessment

An international study of psychometric assessment that we conducted across 14 countries reveals that HR, recruitment and talent practitioners in 52% of organisations are now using online assessments to recruit, onboard and develop their staff. What’s interesting is that our study highlights that the role that assessment plays in organisations has changed dramatically.

Employers have been using psychometric tests in recruitment since the 1970s, predominantly to avoid the expense of hiring the wrong people. Because assessment was expensive, these early tests would typically be used near the end of the selection process.

Now, we’re seeing shorter, more customised and brand-relevant tests – including ability, personality, values and integrity tests and situational judgment questionnaires – used at a much earlier stage. These tests help to predict which candidates will fit the organisation and have the potential and the aptitude to be strong performers. They enable recruiters to reduce a large volume of applicants down to a smaller, more manageable number of people, in a way that is valid, fair and appropriate, using criteria that is relevant to the individual’s ability to perform in the job. 

Assessments are also playing a role even before people apply. Realistic job previews give potential applicants a greater understanding not only of what the role will involve but also of the culture of the organisation. These tests help to manage the expectations of jobseekers right from the start and they discourage browsing candidates from applying for roles that aren’t suitable for them.

Focus: big data

Perhaps the biggest change in the use of assessment is what companies do with the data. In days gone by, the results of a candidate’s assessment tests would typically ‘sit in a drawer’ once he or she had been appointed. Now, these results are increasingly used not only to help onboard new recruits but also to support their ongoing development.

What’s more, employers are now using the analytics that come out of assessments to provide fresh insights about their talent and to enhance succession planning and staff retention.

This is important because HR, recruitment and talent practitioners are increasingly being asked to measure, evaluate and demonstrate the link between talent initiatives and the performance of the organisation. Metrics have traditionally focused on the costs and time involved in recruitment. But employers now want much more than this. They not only want to bring in good candidates, they want to make better talent decisions and prove that their staff are adding value, in a way that makes sense to the organisation.

Some employers, for example, are now linking their selection data with on-the-job performance data and their predictive data with their future business challenges. Our study shows that 45% of assessment users are now undertaking data mining projects that enable them to ask sophisticated questions of their assessment data.

Other key trends highlighted in our study are the growth of mobile assessment (offering tests which can be completed on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones) and the growing demand by organisations to achieve greater diversity. Employers increasingly want to remove unconscious bias from their selection processes and assessments are seen as a way of recruiting fairly and objectively.

As the role of assessment changes, HR, recruitment and talent teams should re-think how they use assessments and look to gain greater value from their investment by using assessment data to make better talent decisions.

Find out more in our latest study, the Assessment Barometer, which you can download free at:

Achim Preuss

By Achim Preuss

Achim is MD and co-founder of international assessment specialist cut-e. Formerly a Director at SHL and an assistant professor of business psychology at the University of Jena, he has 27 years of experience in psychometric testing, business psychology and HR consultancy.

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