Skepticism: Utilizing Assessments

Skepticism: Utilizing Assessments

June 2020

Written by: Mike McElherne, Managing Director

I remember when I first started out in recruiting, I worked for a company that was using assessments during their hiring process (for anonymity I will leave names out of it). The hiring managers were absolutely obsessed with the assessment score for each candidate and based almost every hiring decision on the score rather than the interview feedback, sound familiar. I must admit that experience stuck in my head throughout my career. I felt as though my effort as the recruiter in the process did not matter and the candidates were being judged solely on the assessment results with little weight put on the candidate’s performance during the interview. I wanted to understand how the use of this assessment became such a critical part of the hiring process. I discovered that the organization was experiencing extremely high turnover in key areas and to circumvent that they added in an assessment which they researched online.

Now do not get me wrong as I have progressed in my career, assessments have come a long way and the use of assessments has become a critical component to many companies' hiring process and talent development strategies. I hope some will find value if I share what I learned not only in this organization but in other companies that I have hired for as well. There were a couple of big issues with the way the assessment was implemented in the hiring process. The first misuse was the assessments they were using were not validated for selection. I have seen this in multiple organizations when they are utilizing an assessment that was successful as part of their talent management plan so, they decide to implement it in their hiring process. It is critical that you understand what assessments can and cannot be used during the hiring process.

The second misuse I have observed is the organization had not been properly trained on how to utilize the assessment. Essentially the hiring managers were fixed on a score and of course the “higher the score the better the fit” for the role. That is not how assessments work. When used appropriately and effectively, assessments provide objective insights into the candidates’s alignment with the role, the hiring manager, and the organization. Each assessment is unique on what they measure, and it is critical for hiring managers to understand how to utilize these tools properly.

I equate this to trying to work out in a gym and not understanding how to use any of the equipment. Sure, you go to the gym every day, but you will not see results because you are using the equipment improperly. Assessments are the same way; you should not implement any assessment until you are properly trained by experts who are certified to use and train on that tool. The understanding and training piece to assessments is critical to an organization's overall success utilizing the tool. Anyone who plans on using assessments for hiring or talent management has to understand every component of the tool and must regularly train their leadership team on how to utilize the tool.

As I moved along in my career, I have seen the utilization of assessments that are validated for hiring become an integral part of the hiring process and offer great insights to the hiring manager as they are interviewing candidates. I have also seen how these assessment tools which are used during the hiring process continue to be used as an excellent talent management and development tool and in many cases not only improve the quality of hire but significantly impact retention.

In summary, my career observation and experience has been if you plan on utilizing assessments for hiring or talent development, contact an expert so that you can go over what each assessment measures and understand how the tool can be used successfully, effectively and legally in your organization. I found it extremely helpful when I had taken several assessments and then had an expert walk me through each of my results. I could get a really good feel for the experience taking the assessment and then see understand more about the assessment was truly measuring, It was almost like a free coaching session. I have come to understand and believe that assessments can be a great addition to both your hiring process and your talent development strategies, but, do not go it alone. Contact an expert to help walk you through the selection and implementation process. 

Novo Group is full of experts in our Talent Insights Center where we bring science to the art of talent selection and development for businesses through assessment and data-driven insights.