Skills testing offers a reliable way to pinpoint the best candidates, increases hiring accuracy and validates hiring decisions. Therefore, when hiring in a tight labor market, you want to create a positive relationship between you and your job candidates so as not to lose their interest. How can you make skills testing that engages, rather than bores your candidates? How can you create employment skills tests that candidates have fun completing?
Engaging skills tests need to be relevant to the job (and aligned to EEOC compliance rules) and they need to be constructed in a way that won’t make candidates feel as if they are wasting their time. Engaging skills tests also need to have easy-to-understand questions or tasks that feature lifelike scenarios whenever possible.
Here are some tips from our more than 15 years of providing online candidate testing:
Make Skills Tests Relevant
You need to focus on job-specific skills by conducting a job-analysis before testing. Rather than testing for generic skills, every employee should know, focus on job-specific skills assessments that are based on work responsibilities and everyday tasks. Essentially, you want to concentrate on skills that matter and directly relate to the employees’ on-the-job performance. You can discover which skills are truly important by observing them in the workplace, speaking with supervisors and conducting employee surveys. These simple questions will allow you to identify the best test for any position:
What tasks have to be successfully completed for this particular role?
How do we gauge success in doing these tasks when we conduct a performance appraisal?
How can we translate these metrics into an upfront test for the candidates?
Use quality simulations and visual elements
The more an online test approximates an actual work task, the more candidates will learn about the job (and, simultaneously, the more you will learn about their skills). By immersing candidates in the real-life challenges they will experience on the job, they get a taste of what the job will be like and can make a better-informed decision to join your company because they will already know if they are likely to be successful or not.
Set an appropriate test length for each stage of the hiring process
The human brain has an increasingly short attention span. Outside of work, most people cannot go six minutes without checking social media. Research shows people check their phones up to 150 times a day — about every six to seven minutes that they are awake.
The labor market is very competitive, and as a result, you need to keep job seekers engaged throughout the application process. Keeping this in mind, your skills assessments early in the application flow should be short and sweet. Until candidates know they are closer to getting the job – where a lengthy assessment would be acceptable – you don’t want initial screening tests to be so time-consuming that they turn candidates away.
eSkill skills tests can be configured to take anywhere from a minute to over an hour, depending on how deeply and broadly you wish to assess candidates. To explore our skills assessment tests and how you can customize them, schedule a demo here.
You not only want your online skills testing to be highly customizable, but you also want a partner who can help you avoid several risks. Sometimes technology can fail. Candidates may not have the right browser to support the test. The online workspace may not appear consistently to everyone taking the test. Tasks may be dull to the test-takers. A quality assessment platform will prevent these pitfalls by updating its web-based environment and using a reliable test platform that doesn’t need additional installations, plug-ins or add-ons. Otherwise, test-takers may become annoyed and lose interest in the test (and your company) quickly.
Provide immediate feedback after each test
You certainly know the importance of speed to candidates looking for a job. It is vital that you provide them with immediate acknowledgment and a follow-up e-mail after each testing stage. That way, they will view you as a responsive organization that treats its employees (even prospects) respectfully.
Introduce elements of gamification in skills testing
Many companies find it helpful to integrate gamification – that is, gaming techniques and additional challenges that promote healthy competition. In your skills tests, you can include scenarios that have a backstory and plausible real-life characters.
These situations will help your candidates make emotional connections and become more fully immersed in their skills testing. For example, when testing for a customer service position, the characters should resemble the customers your employees interact with on a daily basis.
These characters will resonate with your candidates as they respond to various situations in the workplace. For instance, one character could be an angry customer who is not satisfied with the received service. An interaction with this virtual character would give your candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their communications skills, show how they would handle a difficult situation, and resolve a complaint with a dissatisfied customer. By bringing “workplace stories” to life this way, your skills testing will better capture candidates’ attention.
Did you like this article? Let us know in the comments below. Also, share your ideas about how your company makes skills testing fun for your test-takers.
Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a global platform for complete candidate skills and job fit assessment. eSkill’s online skills testing is used by thousands of employers for pre-employment assessment and staff benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they're best at, and that they enjoy.