How to develop an effective talent assessment strategy

talent assessment

Talent assessment is the process that helps companies evaluate candidates’ skills and knowledge to determine whether they’re a good fit for an open position.

talent assessment

Since determining a candidate’s fit for a role can be difficult, many companies utilize multiple talent assessment methods. That way, the hiring team can consider the combined results to make an informed decision.

What is a talent assessment?

A talent assessment can take many forms. For example, it can be

  • A structured interview (including asynchronous video interviews)
  • A set of skills or personality tests
  • Sample work
  • A job trial or a simulation

In most instances, especially nowadays, candidates take talent assessments online via a dedicated software platform.

Companies can share the results with prospective employees, but in practice, this part of the process usually remains hidden to optimize the hiring process and minimize costs. Even if you don’t share specific results, you should keep candidates updated on the status of their applications. 

Why do you need to create a solid talent assessment strategy?

If you’re a hiring manager or director, you need to establish a solid talent assessment strategy at your company, and make sure that it’s:

  • Transparent
  • Objective and unbiased
  • Aligned with the company’s objectives and hiring needs
  • Fair to all candidates. 

Why do you need a solid talent assessment strategy, though? Let’s look at the reasons and at the different ways having one can help you improve your hiring process. 

To make sure you’re hiring the best candidates

Top talent is difficult to find. All companies know this and are competing for the best employees. In fact, up to 25% of key positions can remain open for over five months. Talent assessment plays an important role in finding the best talent, and a streamlined application and talent assessment process will help you not lose your best candidates during the first stages of it.

In addition, efficient talent assessments show candidates that you care about their skills and have a data-driven process in place, which inspires trust.  

To avoid costly mishires

Bad hires are expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings, if not more. It includes hiring costs, onboarding and training costs, the cost of poor performance, and it also affects the team as a whole. Therefore, to avoid bad hires, you need to make sure your hiring strategy is optimized for sourcing the best talent—and this includes ensuring a cultural fit.

To eliminate bias from the hiring process and hire a culturally diverse workforce

Talent assessments help you hire a diverse workforce because you concentrate on your candidates’ skill set and expertise rather than their origin, diplomas, hometown, age, or skin color. Hiring for diversity helps companies excel and outperform their competitors.

According to McKinsey, companies with gender and racially diverse executive teams are up to 25% more likely to have above-average earnings and profitability than companies that don’t.

To maintain objectivity, it’s crucial to administer talent assessments to all candidates equally. Implementing a good talent assessment strategy will reduce the impact of unconscious bias and minimize unfair hiring practices.

How do you create a good talent assessment strategy?

In order to create a good talent assessment strategy, you need to do a few things:

Define clear objectives and criteria

First, you need to define what “top talent” means in the context of your company and for the needs of each team. Then, discuss with management what criteria prospective employees need to meet to excel at their position, especially if you’re hiring for critical roles.

You’ll need to do this for every role, as the requirements will vary—although a part of the core competencies might overlap between different positions.

Once you define the specific skill set that your ideal candidate must have, you have to determine how to measure these skills. Take a look at your list of key skills for each position and prioritize them to simplify the assessment process.

If you are using skills tests, test for these skills at the beginning of the hiring process. Then proceed with the most qualified applicants.

Establish an effective hiring process 

Your hiring process will directly impact the success of your hires and, as a consequence, your company’s success. This is why it’s key to use proven, well-structured methods and strategies and not leave anything to chance. Talent assessments are a key component of a data-driven hiring process that helps you identify talented, highly qualified candidates. But, of course, the hiring process goes beyond talent assessments.

Before conducting talent assessments, you need to write a clear job description, advertise the open position on job boards and LinkedIn, and collect resumes (via an ATS, for example). After that, you can administer skills tests to assess your candidates’ skills, experience, and knowledge and screen them effectively.

Finally, once you identify your best candidates, you can conduct structured interviews to evaluate them better and deepen your observations on their specific strengths and weaknesses. 

Keep your candidates updated on the status of their application

If you’re conducting talent assessments at your company, however, it’s always a good idea to keep your applicants updated on the status of their application and share with them whether they will be moving on to the next stage of the hiring process.

This helps you build a strong employer image, which is crucial for attracting top talent: according to a Talentnow study, 55% of candidates abandon their applications if they read a negative review of a company online. Communication with prospective employees is often overlooked, but it’s actually a key element of your overall employer brand. 

What are the different talent assessment methods you could use? 

There are a few different ways to assess your candidates’ talents and skills objectively. Let’s look at the details of each. 

Skills tests

Online skills tests have become the gold standard of talent assessment procedures, and for several good reasons: 

  • They’re convenient and easy to manage and administer
  • They give you an objective evaluation of candidates’ skills
  • They’re not too daunting or time-consuming for candidates.

Skills tests allow you to evaluate each candidate’s strengths objectively while not spending hours on each application. You can administer a few skills tests within the same assessment based on the specific position and its requirements.

You can test for nearly every skill, including skills like PPC advertising, data science, and verbal reasoning

Most of TestGorilla’s skills tests take an average of 10 minutes and are created by subject matter experts. Still, you can also create your own skills tests, add open questions, or ask your candidates to upload a portfolio or record a video. 

Work samples

Work samples can be tricky to manage and will definitely use up more resources on your end. Still, it can give you an excellent opportunity to see how applicants handle their work and whether they can meet your company’s standards.

If you’re asking your candidates for work samples, you shouldn’t be asking them for work your company actually needs to be done. Otherwise, you’re simply asking them for free work. This can harm your employer brand, and your best candidates might decide to withdraw their applications.

Instead, ask for a sample of something closely related to what they would be doing, and be transparent about the procedure and why you’re asking for it. For example, you might ask a software developer to do a coding assignment or a technical writer to send you a writing sample. 

Structured interviews

Structured interviews are interviews in which you ask all candidates the same questions in a similar order. This allows you to concentrate on each candidate’s skills and helps bring hiring bias to a minimum by eliminating small talk or unstructured questions.

It’s important to be well-prepared for each interview and take detailed notes during and after it. You can even evaluate candidates on a scale of 1 to 10 for each of their competencies or their answers to each question. In addition, taking notes will reduce recency bias (i.e., giving priority to the candidates that you remember best, usually the last ones you interviewed). 

Structured interviews are an excellent way to compare applicants with one another and make a successful final hiring decision based on your notes and observations. Google uses structured interviews as a part of its hiring process. Of course, interviews are very resource-intensive, so you should only conduct them with a select few candidates for whom you’re sure they meet your most important requirements. 

Job trials or simulations

Job trials won’t be possible for all types of work, but they might be an effective strategy to test the skills of your applicants in a real work environment for a few hours or a day. Of course, the hiring manager will need to be around to evaluate the candidate’s performance. The team’s productivity might suffer somewhat, so proceed with job trials with caution and only with your top three candidates (or less).

Job simulations are easier to manage, as they can take place during the interview process. In a job simulation, you ask the candidate to imagine a specific situation that they’d have in their day-to-day work and either explain how they’d handle it or actually pretend to do that with you or your hiring team. 

Talent assessments help you find the right hire

Talent assessment tools and strategies are a key component of a successful hiring strategy. Organizations can use a wide array of assessments to evaluate their candidates and combine a few of them, such as a set of skills assessment tests and a structured interview with their best applicants or a work sample plus a skills assessment test.

Of course, acquired skills and knowledge are excellent predictors of a candidate’s future success, but you can also test for personality traits, innate abilities, and cognitive capacities.

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