Pre-Hire Assessments: How to Create a Better Experience

By Caroline Roberson on June 9, 2022

Gemma Toth’s LinkedIn article in which she questioned the value and accuracy of predictive analytics in the hiring process has gotten a lot of attention. As part of Toth’s application experience, she was required to complete an assessment. About that experience, she writes:

“I applied for two positions for which the hiring manager applied this methodology: a ‘thumbs up’ from the predictive assessment was required to move on to the next step in the process. Despite claims of ‘It’s not pass, or fail,’ I never received a follow-up call after either test. When I asked for feedback, none was provided.”

At HighMatch, we are always disappointed to hear about adverse reactions to pre-hire tests. However, we also know that with the proper information, education, and communication, those less-than-ideal experiences don’t have to be the norm.

Should assessments be pass/fail?

Toth is right—some employers use predictive analytics early in the process to determine if a candidate is a fit for a job or not. When assessments are used this way, it’s often in situations when the volume of applicants is so high; it wouldn’t be possible for recruiters review every single application individually, so they rely on artificial intelligence, or pre-hire tests, to help them. Screening candidates, using their assessment results alone can help recruiters find the right candidates, in a more timely fashion. Relying on assessment data to inform whether or not a candidate will move forward in the process, is not taken lightly. Pre-hire tests are based on expert research and analysis.

More often than not, pre-hire tests are simply one piece of the puzzle. Rather than as a pass/fail judgment, assessments are weighed against all other candidate data. Hiring decisions are complex and driven by gut instinct, so the role of assessments is to balance instinct with objective data.

Using a test to determine if someone will move forward in the hiring process benefits the employer and the candidate. If hired, an employee will have a better experience if their innate abilities and preferences align with what’s required. If they aren’t a good match, a pass/fail result reduces the time candidates spend on an application for a job that’s not a good fit.

What follow-up should be required?

Regarding her desire to receive feedback, Toth is justified in her thinking. Following-up after a pre-hire assessment is an important way to create a positive candidate experience. You ask them to invest their time into the test, so we suggest that organizations also add a step in their process to provide some form of feedback. Some organizations choose to share the assessment report or results. HighMatch offers Participant Reports, which convey the results in a positive manner that is designed to be shared with the candidate. Other organizations don’t provide test specifics, but they do communicate at a high level why the applicant is or isn’t moving forward in the process.

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Knowledge is power.

While some candidates may have negative associations with pre-employment assessments, a better experience can be created with information, education, and communication.

  • Educate candidates about the integrated approach. Let candidates know that recruiters and hiring managers evaluate candidates based on their application, resume, phone screen, interview, and assessment. Clarify how various data points are used to assess if a candidate moves to the next stage of the hiring process.
  • Explain the value assessments provide. Employers should express how assessments are mutually beneficial. Using a pre-hire test demonstrates that an employer understands the job requirements, and they’re invested in finding the right people. An assessment also helps candidates avoid landing a job that makes them miserable because it’s not a good fit.
  • Communicate with candidates before, during, and after an assessment. Before you send the pre-hire test invitation, inform candidates why you use an assessment, how long it will take, and what they can expect. During a pre-hire test, make sure the candidate has someone they can contact if they experience technical questions or run into issues with submitting their responses. After they’ve completed the test, candidates should receive notification that their submission has been received. Finally, be prompt when you notify them about their assessment results and the status of their application.

The screening step is essential for recruiters to identify the talent that should move forward in the hiring process. As organizations continue to use assessments to help them make decisions, it’s imperative that they not only base those decisions on sound data but also consider how they can use the data in a way that positively impacts the human part of the hiring experience.

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