Traditionally, reviewing hundreds of CVs for one job role was a necessary evil. But according to Career Builder research, 74% of employers admit they've hired the wrong person for a position, which is why HR and recruitment teams are turning to a more skills-driven approach to hiring.
So how are companies embracing skills assessments – and should they really come before CV reviews?
What is a pre-employment skills assessment test?
A pre-employment test occurs at the first stage of the recruitment process. The goal is to shortlist candidates (say by narrowing a list of 100 applicants to 10). A skills assessment test will enable the recruiter to examine test results data to achieve this.
As an employer they will help you check if your potential new hire will be a great fit for the job, has the relevant skills they claim to have and will fit the company culture.
Types of skills assessment tests (you might hear them called aptitude tests or psychometric tests) vary, but here are some of the most common you'll find:
- Numerical reasoning tests
- Verbal reasoning tests
- Logical reasoning tests
- Situational judgement tests
- Personality tests
Why are skills assessments useful?
Because they weight skills over experience, they can test a candidate's actual ability in many areas such as numeracy, communication and business judgement. As a result, hiring the wrong person is much less common.
With more than 30% of people telling a lie on their CV, applicants often oversell or inflate their skills to gain an interview – which is partly why assessing a CV can be tricky for recruiters.
Asking someone to be an objective judge of their own skills, achievements and character is a pretty difficult thing to do. Many of us have 'blind spots'. Skills assessment tests ensure you get an unbiased and realistic view of a prospective candidate's success in the role.
It's not just a time- and money-saving solution; many companies who use pre-employment skill tests report a huge improvement in the quality of hiring and retention rates, which directly correlates with acquiring the right people.
These days, modern technology makes it easier for us. Augmented intelligence in skills test software will help support your decision-making to make these candidate shortlists.
Why skills assessments should come first
Below are five reasons why skills assessments should come before CV reviews:
1. Skills vs experience
The purpose of a CV is to provide insight into an applicant's past work experience. However, skills within those previous roles are a lot harder to assess on paper. This is why resumes might be ineffective at times , since they are weighted towards experience over skills.
Skill tests can replicate a typical job scenario which might test a candidate's fundamental skills in a role (eg via a situational judgement test). These types of tests tend to be better predictors of candidate success, as you get to understand the thinking behind the candidate and who most suits the role best when compared to other applicants' answers.
2. White lies and blind spots
One of the biggest weaknesses of CVs is that they encourage overselling. Candidates are often encouraged to think of ways to make themselves stand out, which can lead to over-inflated achievements and white lies. Many of us have blind spots, meaning we might not be able to look at ourselves 100% objectively when writing our CV.
On the contrary, using skill tests first removes this concern, as all of the data is based on real test results in which a candidate has participated. Of course, candidates can cheat and Google answers, but it's a lot more difficult to do and signs of foul play on tests are more obvious to spot.
3. Hiring bias
Hiring bias is a challenge for most businesses. Unconscious bias is one type of bias that impacts a recruiter's decision-making, as they often make intuitive decisions on an application without realising. It can prevent organizations from building a diverse and inclusive workforce.
A study at Yale University revealed that both men and women who had been trained to hire objectively failed to hire objectively (they hired men over women, treated them as more skilled, and offered about $4,000 more in salary).
Skill tests on the other hand support blind hiring – it's difficult to have an unconscious bias when you are using data-driven metrics and fair assessments to compare candidates.
4. Reduce time to hire
Time to hire is a key recruitment metric that you should be tracking, especially if you want to work out your cost to hire one candidate.
Using skill tests saves time and money, because only those with the right aptitude and skill will be approved. This makes it even more effective if you are hiring in volume.
You can easily shortlist a list of 500 candidates to 10 in a matter of minutes using pre-employment tests. With a CV-first approach, that could take days, if not weeks – making decisions based on qualitative information.
5. Build data-driven metrics
Skill tests help you build quantitative data around your candidate, giving you a broader picture of how they might perform in certain skills. You can use this data to score your candidates and it can help hiring teams make more informed decisions.
Best skills assessment tools
Hopefully, by now, you've realised that skills assessment tools could help you improve your talent acquisition process. But where do you begin?
There are many software applications you could be using, and each software offers key features and benefits that may or may not be appropriate for your business. It's all about doing your research and understanding your hiring requirements.
As a useful starting point, take a look at these:
- Pymetrics: Uses behavioural assessments to evaluate job seekers by collecting objective behavioural data measuring a job seeker's true potential.
- Picked: Uses behavioural science, augmented intelligence and talent assessments to help companies build the workforce of the future.
- Mettl: Helps you conduct customised online assessments on a cloud-based platform.
- Harver: A high-volume-hiring recruitment solution enabling companies to hire fairly at digital scale.