Pre-hire assessments: Building your ideal program

April 3rd, 2024
Dr. Carter Gibson, IO Psychologist; Dr. Chris Frost, Director of Assessment Optimization

Now more than ever, talent leaders are prioritizing candidates with qualifying skills (rather than experience alone) to help them navigate new frontiers in the workplace. According to HireVue’s 2024 Global Trends Report, 65% of HR leaders are already using skills assessments to determine potential. These survey results are in lockstep with what our science team is seeing from customers–employers of choice want more objective measurements with an equally great candidate experience, and they’re finding that assessments can provide both.

How many assessments do you need?

As an IO psychologist at a company that designs assessments, you probably think my answer to questions about assessment quantity is always more, but after conducting hundreds of validation studies to quantify return on investment, and optimizing algorithms that have supported more than 10 million hires, I can confidently say that the answer is actually somewhere in the middle:

Clients launching a single assessment to cover many roles often need to add more and get more granular. Clients launching many assessments often want to simplify their program.

The truth is that a company’s assessment program should be informed by results, meaning the most important choice is the choice to start because you can’t have results until you’ve launched something.

Sample use case: the call center

The reality is more assessments can produce incredibly meaningful results, but this individualized approach can also mean a more confusing experience for candidates who are applying to multiple open roles. That being said, while a simplified assessment program sounds easier to manage, in can also mean your assessment is going to work better for some roles than others.

With that level-set in mind, let’s look at the happy medium for a call center client we support with different call queues:

  • Repair for technical support
  • Billing for billing questions and issues
  • Inbound sales for new prospects
  • Retention for maintaining existing business
  • General queue that is trained in all areas of the business

This client came to us wanting five separate assessments. After conducting concurrent validations for all of the roles, we suggested a simpler three-assessment strategy. Inbound sales and retention were both sales roles with similar constructs predicting success. These two positions could achieve the same success from one assessment. Service and technical roles each required distinct assessments, and we recommended that the company use an internal mobility assessment for their general queue because the role required too much expertise and experience with internal tools to meaningfully test people from the outside.

Too few assessments and candidate perceptions

In IO psychology, we use the term “face validity” to describe a candidate’s perception of a tool. Something has high face validity if a candidate sees the connection between a step in the hiring process and the role they’re applying for. If you want happy candidates, you want high face validity.

A trap of using generic assessments is losing out on that clear connection to the job. To continue with our call center example, using technical assessments for a billing representative will have low face validity because the connection to the job is opaque at best. When this happens completion rates go down and the assessment has created more problems than it has solved.

Skills-based career pathing versus requisition hiring

Now let’s take a step back from a requisition-based hiring process like the one described above and talk about serving candidates open roles based on their assessment results. By using the Find My Fit assessment a company can recommend roles based on skills and interests. With this approach, candidates are empowered to apply for positions they may have never considered in the first place.

It almost goes without saying that the world of work is changing quicker than at any time in recent memory, and the most successful companies will be the ones that embrace science-backed, validated assessments of all kinds, highly tailored tests for known roles and selection tools that look more broadly at job-relevant KSAOs.

To learn more about Find My Fit or other assessment tools, schedule a demo with a member of our team.