Skill Assessments for Recruiters: Everything You Need to Know

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Evaluating thousands of resumes to hire talent can be a daunting task for recruiters. If you relate to this ordeal, then pre-employment skill assessments can help end this nightmare.

According to the 2019 Report by Talent Board Candidate Experience Research, around 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies use pre-employment skill assessment tests while hiring a candidate. These tests help recruiters to remove unqualified candidates, leaving skilled and experienced candidates at their disposal.

Pre-employment skill assessments have revolutionized the hiring process by bringing time, efficiency, and precision to the table.

This article has covered all the crucial information you need to know about skill assessments, their implementation, and their importance in this modern-day and age.

What is a Skill Assessment Test?

Skill assessment tests refer to a collection of tests to evaluate and screen job applicants on their skills and proficiency for the job profile. These tests are conducted for an objective-oriented and unbiased evaluation of candidates. Since most recruiters set their mind on candidates having good resumes and CVs, this often leads to missing out on good candidates. That’s because some candidates tend to oversell their abilities on their CVs. With a skill assessment, you can expose applicants to a wide range of job-related scenarios. As a result, only the best candidates stand out till the end, further helping in streamlining the recruitment process.

Skill assessments also help you identify strong candidates and give you enough essential points to discuss their experience and knowledge.

Skill assessment tests are the first step of the screening process that is tailor-made to test a specific skill of a candidate. This also gives ample room to ask some customized questions to eliminate weak candidates before the CV submission. For example, you can ask candidates a series of skill-related questions and set up a minimum score to clear the CV submission phase. In this way, the CV you will receive will be from genuine candidates with fundamental knowledge and experience. Since you have a limited number of CVs, it will give you enough time to shortlist the strongest candidates and schedule an interview with them.

Why are Skill Assessment Tests Essential for Companies?

The resume of a candidate barely scratches the surface of the evaluation process. At the same time, skill assessments excavate the proper strengths and weaknesses of prospective talent. They assist in uncovering the gaps in your existing team and highlight some essential training you may require in your onboarding process.

Eight reasons to implement skills assessment tests in your hiring and training strategies:

  1. Creating an Impression Among Candidates

    About 70 percent of employees leave their job due to high-performing and fast technology in their previous jobs. Implementing skill assessments can create a positive impression about your company among candidates. Pre-employment assessment tests will push the envelope among candidates applying for a company that values technological progression and doesn’t follow the traditional hiring process.

  2. Filter out Genuine Candidates from Posers 

    Skill assessments give you a chance to see a candidate objectively. This process allows you to hire a candidate as per their skills and not what they say in their CVs. You can tell who is genuine to their CVs and who is pretending.

  3. Streamline the candidate pool

    Even if all the prospective candidates are genuine and skilled, you still may not have all the time in the world to interview them all. With skill assessments, you can cut your way to the most valuable candidates out of the pool of experienced candidates.

  4. Minimize Employee Turnover 

    In a survey conducted by hayes.com, around 43 percent of 2000 employees prefer jobs with sound corporate culture, while only 12 percent care for money. We can easily conclude that employees who don’t fit in there are more likely to quit. So, evaluating candidates merely on their core skills may not be an exact way. Skill assessment tests allow you to assess candidates based on their personality and cultural fit. As a result, you will get candidates you can hire who love their job and fit best with your corporate culture.

  5. Improve Retention 

    By hiring candidates who are more suited for their roles, you can reduce employee churn. More than just traditional skills, skill assessments can also include personality and culture fit tests to help you identify people who’ll thrive in your specific work environment.

  6. Identify Employee Strengths and Weaknesses 

    By assessing a candidate’s skills as they enter your organization, you’ll already have a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. This can help guide career development conversations and highlight where improvements can be made over time.

  7. Save on Training Costs

    By bringing in candidates that already have the technical skills needed for the job, you can spend less time and resources on training. And by identifying candidates that are quick learners by including cognitive ability tests in your skill assessments, you can target candidates that are faster learners.

  8. Increase Profits   

    A 2012 study showed that companies who excelled at recruiting experienced 3.5 times more revenue growth and double the profit of companies that cited recruiting as a weakness.
    As you can see, skill assessments are a powerful tool for a recruiter to improve their organizational health as a whole.

What do Skill Assessments Measure?

Skill assessments measure the competencies required for a job. But what are these competencies? These competencies range from directly observable, technical skills to innate, under-the-surface attributes that are harder to prove objectively without testing.

 They can be split into two broad categories:

1. Acquired Knowledge, Skills, and Experience

The first category is made up of technical skills that are directly correlated to on-the-job tasks. These skills can only be learned through training or direct experience, and are more likely to be role-specific.

Some example skill tests:

 Role-specific skills: Customer service, Google Ads, Data science

Programming skills: PHP (coding), Node.js, Python (debugging)

Software skills: Salesforce CRM, MS Windows, Shopify

Language skills: English, Dutch (intermediate), Italian (proficient)

One point of note is that while these technical skills are often necessary to do a particular job, they’re also easier to train than soft skills. For example, it’s much easier to train an employee on a learned skill like Google Ads than to teach them a soft skill like empathy.

Read More: How to Hire Most Talented Web Developers?

  1. Cognitive Abilities and Attributes

These are soft skills that are more about how a person thinks and acts rather than what they know and mostly correspond to soft skills.

You can test personality or situational judgment to assess if a candidate aligns with your organization’s expectations and values, or you can test their cognitive abilities to see if they have transferable skills like problem solving or attention to detail.

Examples of these types of tests include:

Cognitive ability: Attention to detail, critical thinking, numerical reasoning, problem solving, reading comprehension, spatial reasoning

Situational judgment: Negotiation, Business ethics, Leadership & people management

Personality & culture fit: Enneagram, DISC

Remember, the examples listed above are just individual tests. A full skill assessment is an aggregated group of up to five tests that make up a holistic picture of the candidate or employee.

For more details on creating a well-rounded skills assessment, check out this blog on using different test types.

How to make skill assessments part of your hiring process

When creating a skill assessment, it can be tempting to select a few tests that seem appropriate for your open role and publish them. But for the best results, you should take a more strategic approach when incorporating skills assessment into your hiring process to ensure you’re testing for all the right things and hitting your overall hiring goals.

Before you dive into creating an assessment for a particular role, start by looking at your organizational needs as a whole.

What skills and attributes must every member of your organization possess in order to be successful? Or, where do you currently have organizational gaps that could be filled by a new hire?

For example, are there any particular soft skills that are crucial to maintaining or establishing your company culture? If you’re a startup with lots of autonomy in every role, you may identify problem solving and critical thinking as key soft skills that no person can be without.

And what technical skills are missing in your organization—even if they’re not specific to that role? For example, you may discover that all of your app developers are experts in Python but have limited experience with HTML5. For your next hire, you could target an HTML5 expert.

The key here is to think about what gaps you may be able to fill with this role that you may have missed if you were thinking only about their day-to-day scope of work.

 Step 2: Determine your hiring goals

Your next step is to identify what the ideal candidate looks like. This will help you build out your assessment in the next step.

Start by writing down the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for the open role. What technical skills must they possess and what soft skills would be ideal for the role? Balance the needs for the role with the bigger-picture needs you identified in step 1.

Based on that list, decide how you will evaluate or benchmark candidates. And are you looking for a well-rounded candidate who passes a certain benchmark for most of the skills you’ve listed, or would you rather find a candidate who’s a superstar in one or two skills, but may be lacking in other areas?

For example, consider the scenario where you have an employee that checks all the boxes but doesn’t show great potential for growth. In some cases, that may be the ideal scenario, as you’re just looking for stability. But perhaps you’re looking for an organizational climber that may be able to fill a leadership role some day. If that’s the case, you may want to put a higher weight on leadership skills or decision-making abilities.

By this point, you should have a fairly clear picture as to what you’re looking for from that role and their skills assessment.

Step 3: Create a skills assessment for your open role

Next, it’s time to create your skill assessment for the role. This means choosing a series of skills tests based on the skills and abilities you identified in step 2.

Armed with the list of skills you picked for the role, you can easily pick out the relevant tests from our skills test library to build out your assessment.

Ducknowl, Sparkhire and eskill also save you time and effort by recommending a list of skills tests based on the job function. For example, for the role of Social Media Manager, they will recommends these skills tests:

Technical skills:bSEO copywriting, Facebook advertising, Technical SEO, Social media management

Soft skills: Attention to detail, Reading comprehension, DISC (a personality test)

In addition to skill tests, you can also add your own custom questions to an assessment to make sure you’ve covered everything you want to ask. For example, you can ask candidates to attach their resume or upload a video answering a screening question.

Step 4: Give your skills assessment to job applicants

Now that you have your assessment built, you can use it to screen your applicants.

To direct candidates to your skills assessment, include the link in your job description. This way, you can collect the necessary information like name, email, their test scores (of course!), and any other information you ask with your custom questions.

Alternatively, you can also email invites to applicants directly or send them through your ATS (Applicant Tracking System).

You can then track how many applicants have completed each assessment and see how they rank based on their scores. The tests have time limits and built-in cheating prevention, so you can be confident that the scores are actually telling of the candidates’ abilities.

 Example result page of skill assessment platforms 

To evaluate which candidates scored high enough to earn an interview, compare them to the benchmarks or hiring goals you created. This may take some judgment, as the test scores won’t always shape up exactly as you had imagined.

For example, should scoring low on one category disqualify a candidate? Probably not. While a low overall score isn’t a good sign, a gap in one area may not be the end of the world—especially if it’s easily trainable on the job.

So, if a candidate does score low in one or two categories, you can use that to discuss their skills and experience further during the interview.

Step 5: Re-assess and adjust your assessments over time

Do you forget about skill assessments once you make a great hire? No, your skills assessment can still have value after you’ve extended a job offer.

You can use the new employee’s assessment results to guide their training or to create their learning and development plan—especially for any areas where they may have gaps.

As your organization and the role evolve, go back and update your assessment for that role. You may discover another skill that you wished you had tested for, or you may decide your organization has enough skill in a certain category that’s no longer needed for the role.

Your organization isn’t static, so your skill assessments don’t have to be either!

 Start Using Skill Assessments Today

Skill assessments can radically transform your hiring process, significantly decreasing your time to hire and drastically increasing the quality of your hires. Used as the first step of your recruiting funnel, skill assessments can save you time in sorting and interviewing candidates, give you all the data you need to make objective and unbiased hiring decisions, and help you retain better employees long-term.

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