Do Job Assessments Help or Hurt Recruiters?

LaKeisha FlemingBy LaKeisha Fleming
January 9th, 2024 • 5 Minutes

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After spending weeks sorting through resumes to find the perfect candidate, HR reps are elated to find a person that checks all the boxes. Demetre Constantopoulos experienced that feeling first-hand. A hiring manager, Constantopoulos told TestGorilla that he selected a key employee based on the strength of their resume. But what initially looked like a match made in heaven ended up being anything but.

The employee couldn’t perform the technical skills needed for the job. But because Constantopoulos didn’t verify whether the candidate had the skills before extending the job offer, his company ended up having to deal with—and subsequently fire—the applicant. A job assessment could have potentially saved time, energy and resources for everyone involved.

Job assessments can be a beneficial tool to help find the right person for the job when assessments are handled properly. But assessments also have the potential to limit the applicant pool and cause employers to miss out on interviewing key talent for a job. 

With the number of pros and cons, do job assessments help or hurt recruiters? 

We’ll examine the effectiveness of job assessments, the things that job seekers hate about pre-employment tests, and the assessments that may be beneficial for companies to use.

Are Job Assessments Effective?

If you need someone with accounting skills, or for IT tasks, you need someone with the know-how to get the work done. There’s no getting around it. Assessments that focus on these skills help simplify the hiring process.

“Employers want to make data-driven decisions rather than simply relying on subjective judgments or impressions. This is where job assessment tests come in. They give quantifiable and measurable insights into candidates’ abilities, allowing employers to objectively evaluate the skills and suitability of different prospects,” explains Farhan Siraj, CEO of OSHA Outreach Courses.

Canditech, a company that helps screen job applicants, notes that candidate assessment interviews are on the rise. In fact, 82% of companies now use pre-employment tests in their hiring process. Assessments add a level of security and reliability to the process. But there are some drawbacks.

“[For] roles that require soft skills such as emotional intelligence and team-building abilities, these tests have their limitations,” Siraj notes.

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Employment Job Assessments

For years, resumes have reigned as the preferred way to decide which candidate to hire. Key words and flashy phrases on a CV helped talent score a coveted interview. Forbes notes that skills-based assessments are overtaking resumes in importance for hiring.

The Pros

  • It can save the company from spending time and money courting and hiring the wrong candidate. If a person can’t pass the test, it’s a good indication that they’re not ready to tackle the position.
  • Testing can reduce employee turnover. Though it can’t guarantee a perfect fit with the candidate and the job, it can help both sides have clearer expectations.
  • Pre-job tests can level the playing field. “Since pre-assessment tests are objective and the same for all applicants, they make the entire interviewing process more fair. Meanwhile, interviews can differ, and biases can inadvertently influence the hiring decision,” Siraj says.
  • “Assessments can translate to productivity. You have an individual who you know can perform the work, and they can be a more productive employee right off the bat,” explains Allison McCutcheon Barcz, Chief Strategy and People Officer, and Co-founder at Largely.

The many perks are key reasons why so many employers now insist on verifying certain skills before bringing a new employee on board. But the tests aren’t perfect. There are considerations you should keep in mind before moving forward with an assessment.

The Cons

  • They can be time-consuming. Assessments can add an extra step into the recruiting process. “It can affect your candidate experience and time-to-hire. Depending on the pre-employment assessments you choose to deploy, it can negatively impact your hiring process,” says Barcz.
  • Assessments can reduce your talent pool. If the goal is to hire someone who answers a certain number of questions correctly, or who possesses all a certain skill set, the test can label the person a hire or non-hire right away. You may miss out on people who have the basic skills and are trainable to get them where you want them to be.
  • Tests focus on certain skills, but the results don’t give you the full picture of a candidate’s potential. Specific strengths, and even soft skills, may not be evaluated as a part of the testing process.

And then, there are the things that job seekers hate about doing the assessments.

“Honestly, there are times when job assessments can feel tedious and repetitive. Candidates may find them frustrating, especially if they have to undergo multiple evaluations for different companies. They hate anything that feels like a barrier to getting the job, like irrelevant or poorly designed assessments,” says Eric Eng, Founder and CEO of AdmissionSight.

Potential employees also hate when they feel like they’re being taken advantage of by the testing process. Asking a person to work for free, and labelling it as a job assessment, will not go over well. That’s why it’s important to know where to draw the line when dealing with job assessments.

The Best Job Assessments for Companies, and Where to Draw the Line

As a recruiter, you get that job assessments can make your job easier and more effective. But you also understand that potential hires can get frustrated if they think you will waste their time. So, what are the best assessments for you to focus on?

“I believe among all the assessment tests, the following two are most beneficial for employers,” explains Siraj: “skill-based assessments …. [and] cognitive ability tests.”

 He continues. “If you’re hiring someone for their abilities to write code or create visually stunning graphics, it makes sense to have assessments in place. A brief test in this scenario could demonstrate the capabilities of the prospect and prevent the employer from hiring someone who is not technically skilled.” 

Cognitive ability tests focus on examining a person’s ability to solve complex problems and determine their leadership abilities. But knowing the best types of tests to give still may not be enough information for you to determine the course you should take. 

“You need to ask yourself two questions. First, what are you measuring? Second, what will the impact of that measurement be on the rest of the talent acquisition process? Pre-employment assessments should be used with other forms of evaluation, like interviews, to make hiring decisions and not used independently … to make final determinations,” Barcz states.

And that’s what makes all the difference. The decision doesn’t just boil down to a test. Understanding the process, and the thinking behind it, will make an assessment productive for the employer and prospective employee.

 “Job assessments can both hurt and help the hiring process. If you utilize excruciatingly long tests and make them the primary criteria for hiring prospects, you will miss out on some great candidates who might not be interested in lengthy tests. However, if you use concise and relevant assessments, and use them to support the hiring process along with the interview, you will end up the method to build a strong team,” Siraj concludes.

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