The online technology to acquire and assess professional skills is constantly improving and increasingly being adopted by human resource departments. This should move hiring away from being driven by networking power to being driven by skills meritocracy.
That’s why a critical step in your hiring process should be skills testing. Leaving this step out of your most important function (recruiting and retaining the best talent) could be setting your organization and your candidates up for failure. According to professor Michael Watkins, 58% of the highest priority hires fail in first 18 months. Unmet expectations are really the culprit here, so you want to do everything you can to effectively communicate and demonstrate expectations for candidates coming into a new role.
To avoid miscommunicating expectations, start with a test that reflects the key performance metrics of the position. Having a benchmark for candidate ability allows managers to communicate expectations and create employee-specific goals to help them excel in delivering the company’s mission. This is important because we are all becoming accustomed to personalized experiences, from customized learning in the classroom to customized shopping options.
Skills testing is sometimes mistakenly associated only with kinds of positions, such as technical roles, when, in fact, skills testing can be done with most positions your organization interviews for. Let’s walk through some examples.
Say you’re looking for an interview scheduler, and your company requires a lengthy interview process that involves multiple employees. To be successful in this role, the prospective scheduler must be able to juggle multiple calendars across the company and prioritize the order of multiple interviews.
You can use a test to measure key abilities for this role. How about if you are hiring for a call center? You can ask your typical (and you should) customer service questions, such as “how would you deal with this difficult situation”, but you can take your assessment a step further and test the candidate’s skills.
Using a reliable skills test to measure the candidate’s abilities is another tool in your interview process that you can add to your interview questions to make the best hiring decision – it’s not a one or the other solution.
A candidate can sit across from anyone and say they can do all the things listed in the job description. Interviewees can research buzzwords and relevant statistics before going in for their interview with you. They can practice their answers until they sound completely natural and confident in their “abilities” to make you believe they are.
On the other hand, candidates can know how to do all the things listed in your job description and not be excellent communicators or be so nervous they forget things they had wanted to share with you about their experience and abilities.
Skills testing will mitigate their interview awkwardness and equip your team to make a better-informed decision by simply giving candidates a test relevant to job performance. Of course, if the job requires excellent interpersonal communications skills, you can test for that, too.
What you need is a customizable option for testing your organization’s needs. These simple steps will put you in the right direction for identifying the best test for any position:
An important factor to consider when using a skills test in your recruiting process and decision making is to choose one that will protect your company from legal risk. Whether you are a government contractor subject to an Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audit or a business, not contracted with the federal government and subject to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) audit, keep these two factors in mind to ensure your hiring methods will be compliant. 1) Use the test consistently for candidates testing for the same position, and 2) make sure the test is relevant to the position.
To further avoid risk, work with your hiring managers to fully understand the needs of a position before choosing the appropriate test. For example, if the position does not require typing, then using a typing test result as a factor in your hiring decision is heading down the wrong path. Of course, this is a simple example, but it proves you cannot be too careful in your approach to hiring for any position. Consider your current approach and revisit your hiring strategy to include relevant skill testing to help your organization select the best talent available.
Retention depends on hiring employees who have the aptitude to succeed on the job, which means that finding the right candidate with the right skills at the hiring stage is crucial. Once you have candidates successfully in the job, you can use skills testing to validate additional training outcomes.
You can also use skills testing to consider an employee for a new role, promotion or team. Reviewing skills and behavioral assessment tests before assembling a team can be valuable in determining how team members will likely work together and issues that may arise. This is helpful for management and leadership development of the team members.
Skills testing is an important tool to increase your success rate in hiring and team development. Start with existing assessments, and then for hiring and teambuilding, you can also customize
Kristina Minyard is currently the Director of Ignite Education in Huntsville, AL. She has over 11 years experience in HR, Recruiting, and Business Development. She utilizes her skills and experience in HR Consulting, Technical Recruiting, HR Policies, Staffing Services, and Labor Relations to create content on her blog hrpockets.com and other platforms.