taking a candidate assessment

How To Conduct a Meaningful Candidate Assessment

Debra Carney

by Debra Carney

Director of Marketing

Candidate assessments are a way for recruiters and hiring managers to determine the best candidate for a position. Assessments can cover a wide range of skills, including both hard and soft skills, as well as personality and cultural fit. The use of candidate assessments can help you narrow down your pool of candidates and find someone who sends your quality of hire metrics soaring. 

The key to candidate assessments is that they have to be meaningful. There is no point in sending a candidate through a battery of tests if the results aren't going to tell you what you really need to know. It's a waste of the hiring manager's time and the company's money. To get the most out of the assessment, you need to use the right tests and tools for the position. Here's what you'll need to do to get the most meaning out of your next candidate assessment. 

Steps to Ensure the Best Candidate Assessment

  1. Make sure you know what the job needs. You can't choose the right methods and tools if you don't know what kind of skills are needed in the position. 

For example, if you are hiring for data entry, a written assessment might not tell you what you need to know about your candidate. Don't use every assessment for every position. 

Tailor your approach by carefully selecting the assessments that will tell you which candidates have the skills required to do the job.

  1. Use a standardized approach for evaluation. When you evaluate candidates for the position, use a standardized approach for each one. 

This will allow you to make data-driven decisions regarding hiring. You'll be able to measure tests against each other to find the most qualified candidate. 

  1. Dig deep into past performance. Part of the assessment process should include an interview. Whether you take a structured or informal approach is up to you and your company culture.

    However, part of that interview needs to be a deep dive into the candidate's past performance. Ask for specific examples of times they've hit tough goals, times they didn't, and examples of their previous work.

  2. Cultural fit matters (but not as much as you think). If you want to assess a candidate for cultural fit, do it.

    But don't let a score on company culture make or break a candidate. This can lead to a lack of diversity within the organization, and that's something that companies are crying out for in the current job market.

  3. Use the right tools to make meaningful assessments. There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you make smarter decisions about candidate hiring.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help you identify top candidates, assist in the assessment process, and bring up your quality of hire scores. If you aren't using it yet, get a free demonstration of how it works from Crosschq

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5 Powerful Candidate Assessment Methods

You've written the perfect job description, combed through resumes, and narrowed down your shortlist of candidates. Now it's time to start the assessment process.

There are a myriad of choices when it comes to candidate assessments, but here are five that you should consider if you want to make the process as meaningful as possible. 

Gather work samples for your candidate assessments

Work samples are an excellent way to assess a candidate's abilities, especially in creative areas such as graphic design and copywriting. 

Don't request work samples until you are scheduling the candidate for an interview. That way, you can discuss the work with them and determine if they produced it independently or as part of a team, and their specific role in it. 

This is a great opportunity to ask questions about teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity. Limit the number of on-the-job work samples the candidate can bring, too, so that they have to select the three or four pieces they think are their best work. 

This will also help to limit the amount of time you spend talking about the work samples. 

General aptitude tests to measure candidates

These may also be called psychometric tests. They evaluate a candidate's skills in areas such as verbal reasoning, maths, and ability to perform basic tasks. 

While not right for every position, they can give hiring managers a lot of insight into a candidate's abilities. They are also a good way to evaluate hard skills listed on a candidate's resume. 

After all, you can say whatever you want on a resume. It's a lot harder to fool an assessment. These candidate assessments are especially useful in the pre-interview stages because they can provide objective data on skills. That way you can find the top performers for the next round of interviews.

Beware, though, that general candidate aptitude tests aren't right for every position. They can be biased against creative thinkers and scare away excellent candidates who don't enjoy testing.

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Use job simulations to assess candidates

For positions like sales or customer service, job simulations can be a great way to see how a candidate will perform on the job. 

For example, you can ask a sales team candidate to prepare a presentation to sell your latest software package. You could also have a customer service candidate interact with a customer through a chat program. 

Job simulations can be on-the-spot or pre-planned, but align that with the requirements of the job. If the candidate will have time to pre-plan for the position, give them time to plan for the interview, too. 

A word of warning about job simulations, though. If you ask a candidate to produce any sort of work for the interview, such as designing a mock-up ad for a new product, consider paying them for it. 

This can help you avoid sticky situations where the candidate feels you've stolen their work (and their time). 

Problem-solving candidate tests

If there is one skill that's hard to teach, it's the skill of problem-solving. It's likely something that's high on your wish list for a new candidate, too. 

Problem-solving tests can help you evaluate a candidate's ability to quickly process information and understand a situation. It can show you how strong their reasoning skills are, which may be an important skill for any position. 

There are problem-solving tests for candidates available online, but you can also evaluate a candidate's problem-solving abilities by playing a game or asking questions about overcoming challenges during their interview.

Personality tests for candidates

"Don't hire anyone you wouldn't want to run into in the hallway at three in the morning." — Tina Fey

Personality matters. Hiring people with the right personality for the job can be key, especially in positions like sales. 

Personality assessments can give you insight into how a candidate will fit into your company, how they handle conflict, and what kind of communication style works best for them. These assessments can help you balance out a team or boost strengths in areas that you might be lacking in the organization. 

Don't allow the personality test to sway your opinion about a candidate too much, though. Candidates can score differently on a personality test based on their mood or stress levels. But it can be a useful way to get a lot of information about a candidate in a short amount of time.

Using the Right Tools for Candidate Assessment

There are a lot of candidate assessment tools out there to help with the process of assessing candidates. There are examples of tests online, as well as both paid and free assessment tools that can help you narrow down your candidate pool. 

There are so many resources, in fact, that it can be difficult to weed through them all and find the really good ones. It can even lead to recruiter burnout. That's why a lot of recruiters are turning to the use of artificial intelligence instead. 

AI is one of the best tools for candidate assessment. When it comes to hiring, algorithms beat gut feelings. Algorithms are better at hiring above-average employees

They can also learn more about what qualities you want in a candidate and go find them. It replaces hiring on gut instinct, which can lead to homogenization in the workforce and stifle innovation and creativity in the organization. With an algorithm, you get data-driven decisions on who to hire for a position. 

AI is already deeply enmeshed in the hiring process, and its use has exploded in the last year. Its first use was to scan resumes and reject unqualified candidates before they reached recruiters. But now AI has gone way beyond that, and tools like Crosschq are the next evolution in hiring AI.

Crosschq checks references, predicts retention, identifies coaching opportunities, and helps create talent pools with opted-in candidates from its talent referral network. It's the future of hiring, where reference data improves impact. It's how companies are finding the most qualified candidates for the job in a faster, less expensive, and more meaningful way.

Want to see how AI can change your hiring process and help you find the best candidates for your open positions? Learn more about Crosschq's line of AI-powered recruitment products or schedule a demo

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