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The amount of applications companies receive is astounding. Google alone receives over 2 million applications per year! Hiring can be a tricky business; companies want to find the best match, but also create a competitive edge throughout their hiring process. With unemployment down to 3.6% in the U.S., companies are eager to lock down top talent. Since companies are on the lookout for the talented few, they're looking to technology to aid in of the most critical pieces of the recruitment process: the talent assessment.

What is a "talent assessment"?

The term “assessment” can include a wide variety of tools, from resume reviews, applications, reference or background checks, to personal.  interviews. For the sake of this article, we’re focusing on the more formal, scientific assessments.  Pre-employment tests or employee screening tests are used to help identify the traits or skills that ascertain whether a person would be a good fit for a job position. Usually these kinds of tests are based on a various case studies, past hiring decisions, and general employee data. Assessment tools range from broad personality tests to aptitude tests to AI in recruiting software. In theory, talent assessments should better qualify a candidate to a job fit or not. It should help create a more effective recruiting process.

As part of the online screening process, talent assessments are given to potential candidates through an internet browser or a plug-in. Some companies have candidates go to a hiring kiosk. In general, candidates are given a list of questions to answer. These questionnaires can take the form of multiple choice, true or false, or essay questions. It depends given what a specific assessment aims to quantify: from personality, working style, knowledge, or generalized skillset. 

Who uses talent assessments?

Just about everyone. From Google, Walmart, Neiman Marcus, to Facebook. If a company is looking to attract and retain talent, then they’re definitely identify new ways to interview for those winning candidates. Especially for large companies, incorporating different tools to improve efficiency is important. An Amazon job application, for example, may be competing against hundreds for one position. That's plenty of applications to wade through for an Amazon recruiter. Talent assessment tools can improve the work-life of hiring managers for the most massive of companies.

Job postings usually lead candidates to apply online via their website or through a third-party website. Candidates are given instructions and are led through a series of challenges or questions. Based on the role, employers may be examining candidates based on their communication behavior, customer service skills, or problem-solving methods. 

What does talent assessment questions look like during the recruitment process?

One leading talent assessment provider, provides a few sample questions:

 

Select matching terms for: ___________ is to water as eat is to ___________

dog - cat

foot - hand

woman - office

drink - food

ocean - mountain

 

It is best to analyze all the facts before making a decision.

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree


Technology’s starring role in talent assessment

Online testing has become standard practice in most industries. Unsupervised talent assessment is efficient, as its easy to use and accessible by candidates. Earlier on, security and candidate integrity became a focal point of discussion. Tests could be easily copied, distributed, and used by multiple candidates to share answers. Fortunately, more companies are finding ways to combat this issue with timed responses or the inability to take screenshots. 

As time has passed in developing digital talent assessment, the methods have greatly improved. Computer adaptive testing (CAT) allows a dynamic selection to occur based on a candidate’s initial responses. Depending, answers can become more difficult, lead to a different area of knowledge, and be tailored to focus on a candidate’s strengths or areas of improvement.

Mobile assessment is now a huge part of creating an easy recruiting process. It provides greater convenience than a desktop and is more readily available as 96% of Americans now own a smartphone. For underrepresented communities, this provides an unprecedented amount of accessibility and opportunity to take part in the interview process that was only accessible in-person or with desktop. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) in recruiting is quickly becoming integrated. In the past, applicants applied for positions based on job postings, a hiring manager sifts through a pile of resumes, and researches the applicant online. With artificial intelligence, a number of these activities can be quickly done, saving time for hiring managers on the more rudimentary tasks: finding the top candidates efficiently. Retorio’s AI video software offers recruiters the chance to learn about a candidate’s personality via recorded responses. Other software, like Watson’s-- IBM's AI -- helps hiring managers navigate the barrage of common questions applicants have. Through a chatbot, both in-house and external candidates can pose questions they may have about the hiring process. Hiring managers no longer have to worry about sourcing and sorting the pile of emails asking about the most basic questions, allowing them to focus time on where it counts: the company’s employees. 

Technology combining these three uses will result in an enhanced candidate experience, more qualified candidates, and less routine work for hiring managers. Tools such as AI recruitment integrate these core competencies, proving artificial intelligence can enable smart talent acquisition.

What to look for when selecting a talent assessment tool?

Understand the job role

When sitting down with the manager, hiring managers should take note of what the job requires, analyzing what skills, critical competencies, and or activities that the role encompasses. Within 4 steps, a hiring manager can quickly perform a job analysis according to Society of Human Resources:

  • Observe or interview job experts to develop a list of work activities and competencies workers need
  • Ask job experts to rate which work activities and competencies are most critical for effective job performance. 
  • Analyze the data to prioritize the most critical work activities and competencies for your organization. 
  • Select assessments that measure the performance of the most critical work activities or competencies required on the job. 

After understanding what the role demands, it’s now time to figure out which assessment tools would be most appropriate. This kind of tailored approach to talent acquisition supports carving out a specific culture. For example, if the job encompasses a leadership role now or potentially in the future, applying an appropriate tool can help hiring managers figure out an employee’s leadership potential. Hiring managers can search for assessment tools that evaluate:

Acquired skills and work knowledge

Each job requires unique capabilities—from knowing Python backwards and forwards to writing scripts specifically for video games. Assessing job relevant skills and knowledge is, naturally, a must. Smart recruitment looks for diversity of skills while underscoring the position's non-negotiable fundamentals.

Personality or character attributes

Perhaps a company is on the search for an executive, perhaps a CEO position. Understanding potential candidates’ personality is essential as it must fit in with what is needed and what the culture demands. Personality and interests lay at a deeper level, making it more difficult to ascertain and understand. However it’s been proven to be an accurate predictor of job performance. Personality assessments should measure the most vital components: conscientiousness, extraversion-introversion, agreeableness, and openness, aka the Big 5 Personality Traits according to advanced psychology research. Retorio’s AI video software uses the Big 5 to create a robust personality profile of each candidate. By using these metrics, companies are able to understand how candidates will contribute and align with a company’s goals.

Biographic information

Some talent assessment tools incorporate candidates’ information on their past work achievements, performance, or volunteer involvement. These are also have been shown to be indicators of job performance. Questions asking how one spent their money in high school could ascertain responsibility and self-management. Candidates could also be asked to share about past achievements, in areas like planning and organizing, conflict resolution, or other key competency areas. 

What impact does AI tech tools have?

Provides evidence-based proof of skill

A candidate can be in the position where they’re still developing their skillset; a talent assessment can more accurately pin where they are in their skill development. This is useful when trying to distinguish between a junior or senior manager, a president or vice present, or when assessing someone who is changing industries in their career. A talent assessment give candidates a more fair depiction of their hard work, interests, and potential. For hiring managers, a more accurate picture of the candidate provides a greater likelihood of a better position match. Each position has many applicants, but 65 percent of them do not meet basic requirements. By using a talent assessment software, companies will better understand which candidates do not match the criteria immediately.

Better candidate experience

An easy and streamlined candidate experience seems like the unlikeliest way to win customers, but it’s how companies are improving their bottom lines. A talent assessment is part of the candidate experience journey, offering a chance for a candidate and a company to have a positive touch point. It offers a candidate another tool to learn about themselves by having them complete a project or a personality assessment like the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. They’re able to receive feedback after completing the assessment, which is another way to improve the candidate experience. What person doesn’t improve a few points on how they could improve for future interviews or the certain skill they could take up a notch or two?

Providing a talent assessment is an opportunity for employers to gain trust and build rapport with candidates. This only improves and broaden the candidate funnel for future positions. For the companies, this enhances identifying strengths and weaknesses of candidates, filtering out unqualified candidates. Living in a candidate-driven market means organizations must be ready to compete through out every candidate touchpoint. According to research by the Society of Human Resource Management, "candidates want brief, informative, and engaging hiring experiences and transparency, so they know what to expect, where they stand, and how much effort to put into a hiring process. All these new expectations are transforming assessment methods and practices.”

Reduce bias in recruitment

No matter what we’d like to think: humans are not immune to making poor decisions or possessing biases. Looking for candidates that look like us, talk like us, or attend the same schools or clubs we do may lead to an “in-group” bias. However our decisions and problem solving suffers because we do not possess a creative toolbox of people to resolve issues. Talent assessments qualifies candidates in how they scored on a test, not on their gender or ethnicity. Data ends up backing up how candidates score on knowledge, skill, and other abilities, rather than fully trusting a person’s intuition. At Retorio, we believe when these aspects work in tandem—data and human intuition—reduced biases and enhanced hiring decisions become the result. 

Improve hiring retention

A talent assessment isn’t a silver bullet, but it has been shown to decrease employee turnover and minimize the cost and time associated with recruiting.On average, one in four new hires leaves within a year, according to Society for Human Resource Management. The Self-Management Group added one assessment tool to one organization’s pre-screening process. Instead of 3 weeks, this organization filled positions within 1.5 weeks; they also saw a reduction of 40% in employee turnover. One explanation may be that candidates became familiar with the tasks they would be expected to perform at work. Adjusting expectations and matching skills became doubly helpful to both candidates and companies. 

How can AI improve talent assessments?

Applying AI to enhance and streamline HR is already being done: digital voice assistants answer questions candidates have, scanning job profiles for keywords, and even analyzing whether a candidate is a toxic person via their online person. The first AI in assessment arrived in the 1990s when tests were first digitized. Now machine learning can help sort through thousands of applications.  

Instill rapid automation 

By synthesizing data, AI gathers and transfers knowledge quickly—including knowing which candidates meet which aspects of the job description criteria. Computer-generated reports are reliable, fast, and may be capable of producing bias-free results. 

Pattern matching with AI

AI checks sequence of responses, key words created by hiring managers, and cobble together different capabilities of assessments. It can determine patterns by leveraging thousands of data points, an extensive database, and interpret a wide-range of inputs: from a candidate’s video, a text-based CV or questionnaire, and a candidate's social media interests. This kind of technology can create a greater, holistic perspective of an applicant.

Reduce bias through AI

Integrating an AI talent assessment into an ATS provides a safety measure against human bias. Humans are vulnerable to unintentional biases. With the right AI, this technology can aid in eliminating bias that recruiters may possess. Since an algorithm is only as good as the data its fed, it’s important that it draws from a substantial data set and carefully programmed. 

Support in precise decision making

AI recruitment tools collect massive amounts of data, but can also make concise observations. Humans don’t have the cognitive ability or time to do the amount of work needed to find solutions or provide calculations that an AI can. With this kind of tool, companies can evaluate precise data which leads to clearer insights and decision making.

Improve candidate engagement 

The importance of the candidate experience continues to grow, with more organizations taking stock of what makes an impactful recruiting and hiring practice. AI can optimize and enhance the selection experience with interactive chatbots, video-based screening, convenient mobile applications, and speeding up decision times. Additionally, some AI video software—like Retorio—can help hiring managers deliver candidates the gold standard in a hiring process: feedback. AI can help make the experience more candidate-centric, giving companies another competitive edge. 

AI can improve the recruitment process by updating the talent assessment tool landscape. This technology can unlock identities, presenting a more cohesive view of an applicant versus using several tools and (unintentionally) biased hiring managers. Not only does AI improve diversity, it can set the tone for how companies want to be perceived by candidates, solving one of the greatest problems in the talent war: a broad, talent acquisition funnel. AI 's special ability to incorporate machine learning, human intuition, and a centralized system for talent sourcing makes it one of the most vital tools for growth-minded organizations.

 

Companies, like BMW, leverage Retorio's AI to support their own talent management teams. Our video-based AI was featured in TechCrunch and Süddeutsche Zeitung .

 

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Elizabeth T.

Written by Elizabeth T.

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