Talent Assessment 101: An Introduction to the Evaluation Process

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Talent Assessment 101: An Introduction to the Evaluation Process

A talent assessment evaluates an individual’s skills, knowledge, and potential to fill a vacant position. HR professionals can use various tools and techniques to determine a candidate’s competencies.

Let’s look at what talent assessment is, what the process looks like, and some examples of talent assessments.

What is a talent assessment?
Benefits of talent assessments
Types of talent assessments
How to implement a talent assessment framework

What is a talent assessment?

The goal of the talent assessment process is to identify the best candidate for a position.

For example, you have two well-qualified candidates for an open position. Both candidates appear to have experienced backgrounds, relevant education, and training. How, then, do you determine which candidate would be the best fit? This is where the talent assessment process can identify the best candidate.

By providing each candidate with a set of tests, you can get data-driven, proven results.

Benefits of talent assessments

  • Increased accuracy in identifying candidates with the right skills and qualifications: Talent assessments aim to identify which candidate will best fit a role. The process tests an individual’s skills, knowledge, or cognitive ability beyond the standard interview. This is why it is important for organizations to include talent assessments as part of their hiring process. In fact, a report from LinkedIn indicates that an estimated 57% of recruiters use soft-skill assessments in interviews.
  • Improved diversity in the workplace: The talent assessment also aims to reduce bias when selecting candidates. This is because talent assessments ignore a candidate’s personal characteristics. Instead, they aim to look at only their skills, competencies, or behavior. As such, the process provides an objective view of each candidate’s potential to fill a position.
  • Reduced onboarding time and costs by ensuring that you hire the right candidate for the job: A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management indicates that the cost to hire an employee averages about $4,700. This cost includes recruiting, interviewing candidates, and training the new employee. Also, the average time to fill a position is in the range of thirty-six days. When you dedicate so many resources to hiring an employee, it is essential to ensure that the best possible candidate fills the position. By using a talent assessment process, you ensure that only the best candidates are considered. As a result, the talent assessment process eliminates those candidates that “fail” the tests.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: If employees are a good match for their job and the company culture, they tend to experience greater job satisfaction. The talent assessment process helps improve satisfaction by ensuring the candidate will fit the role. Teams supported by competent employees are also more likely to feel satisfied.
  • Greater employee retention rates: Hiring an employee who is not the best match or does not have the required knowledge and skills can be costly for the business, but can also result in employee turnover. Conducting a talent assessment can reduce the likelihood of selecting the wrong candidate and ensure that you find the best fit for the organization and the future employee. 
  • Better talent development: The talent development process is excellent for sourcing new employees, but it can also gauge the potential of current employees. Talent assessments can build targeted development plans to help employees enhance their skills. As such, talent assessments can assist with career advancement for internal candidates. They can help to identify employees who are ready for new challenges and greater responsibility. By providing targeted development opportunities, organizations can help these employees advance their careers.

Types of talent assessments

There are a wide variety of talent assessments to choose from. Each of the following examples has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to review your needs. Now that we have established the benefits of the talent assessment process, let’s explore some of the types of tests.

1. Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests measure a candidate’s reasoning, perception, and problem-solving skills. Higher scores on such tests can show an individual’s ability to reach and maintain workplace goals. The scores can also represent a candidate’s ability to learn new tasks.

Cognitive ability tests are simple to use; they are widely available and rely on a definitive scoring system. The major downside of cognitive ability tests is that they only look at the quantitative elements of a candidate’s potential. As such, these tests don’t assess other essential elements, like work ethic or communication skills.

HR tip: 

Cognitive ability tests are limited in scope. Because of this, hiring teams should consider a comprehensive assessment process. Including different variations of talent assessments provides a more well-rounded view of your candidates.

2. Personality tests

These tests examine personality traits, values, or morals in the workplace. Personality tests often ask hypothetical questions such as “do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?”

Some personality assessments also provide a spectrum of answers for candidates to select from. Answers can range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” to analyze where an individual’s opinion stands.

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Personality tests promote diversity by creating a pool of talent with different opinions. But, one of the cons of using personality tests is that they are subjective, qualitative forms of assessing candidates. These tests only examine a candidate’s behavior rather than their ability to perform the position’s duties or their job knowledge.

HR tip: 

Personality tests are customizable, as they are a more subjective form of analyzing a candidate’s responses. Hiring managers should create a wide variety of assessment questions. Create questions that examine a candidate’s behavior, communication skills, or leadership ability. These questions will give you an insight into the candidate’s compatibility with the role.

Since personality tests assess the qualities that cognitive ability tests don’t, consider using both tests together. Using both of these types of tests will give you a view of the candidate’s cognitive ability and behavior.

3. Situational judgment tests

Situational judgment tests provide candidates with an example of a problem and ask them how they would solve it. The goal is to assess various soft skills, including teamwork, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

For example, one such problem question could be how the candidate would respond if a coworker was repeatedly late for work. Their answer to this question will provide insight into how they might respond in a real-world situation. This example will also showcase a potential candidate’s leadership capabilities.

HR tip

Situational judgment tests are best used with examples based on real organizational situations. Try to assess some common issues and use them to create a selection of questions for your situational judgment test.

4. Skill assessments

These assessments examine a candidate’s ability to perform specific skills related to a job. Unlike the talent assessments mentioned above, skill assessments survey hard, measurable abilities.

For example, you could request a skill assessment from a candidate applying for a software development position. The assessment, in this case, could test the candidate’s knowledge of a programming language.

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HR tip

There are many different skills assessments to consider depending on your organization or the job position. It’s crucial to ensure that the assessments are fair and examine skills relevant to the job. It also is important that the assessments are not subject to possible bias.

5. Work sample assessments

Work sample assessments can analyze a candidate’s ability to perform tasks related to the job. For example, hiring teams can request a graphic design artist to provide a design for a speculative advertisement. Or, they could request website developers to provide relevant examples of websites they have created.

Work samples gauge a candidate’s ability to perform a short task related to the vacant position. As such, the work sample will illustrate whether the individual can perform their duties.

HR tip

When asking a candidate to provide a sample, be sure that the sample shows a specific task related to the job position. If the sample is too broad or generalized, you may not get an accurate understanding of the candidate’s skills specific to the role.

How HR Can Implement a Talent Assessment Framework

How to implement a talent assessment framework

To create a successful talent assessment framework, consider the following steps:

  1. Assess the business needs: Consider the roles the organization is hiring for. Why do you need a talent assessment program? Examine how the talent assessment process can assist with gauging the competencies of each candidate.
  1. Define the objectives for the talent assessment process: Do you need to develop a talent assessment framework to improve diversity in the workplace? Does your team need to identify talented, knowledgeable candidates? Consider what your specific organizational objectives are before developing the talent assessment process. 
  1. Choose the appropriate assessments: Decide on the talent assessment tests best suited to your goals. Take into account the reliability and usefulness, as well as the possible disadvantages, of each type of assessment. Consider using a combination of different types of talent assessment tests.
  1. Set clear expectations: Explain how your talent assessment process works and how you will use the results. Setting expectations for candidates ensures they understand why their abilities are being examined.
  1. Administer the assessments: Identify candidates, then provide each candidate with your selected assessments. Be sure to standardize these tests to guarantee equality and fairness.
  1. Review the assessment results: Analyze each candidate’s completed assessments. Also, take into account your organization’s goals for the position. Be sure to examine each assessment objectively, eliminating bias toward a candidate.
  1. Follow up with candidates: Provide candidates with the results of the assessment. Consider the assessments, along with each candidate’s experience, education, and interviews. Then, make an informed decision about which candidate fits your organization’s vision for the role and extend the job offer.
  1. Examine the results: Assess the results of the assessments, as well as their successes and shortcomings. Decide what you need to improve and adjust the assessments as needed. For example, did some candidates find one or more assessment questions confusing? You may need to edit the assessments for clarity. Document any changes and tweak the tests to your needs over time.

Key takeaways

  • Talent assessments: Talent assessments help identify candidates with valuable skills. They also can determine if a candidate aligns with a company’s goals and culture.
  • Benefits of talent assessments: Talent assessments pinpoint which candidates will fit a position. Talent assessments also aim to reduce bias when selecting a candidate, since these tests only examine an individual’s skills or behavior.
  • Types of talent assessments: There is a wide range of talent assessments, depending on how an organization wants to test a pool of candidates. Such tests include cognitive ability tests, personality tests, and skill assessments.
  • How to implement a talent assessment framework: Choose the appropriate assessments to fit your needs. Then, consider the available positions. Administer the tests and review the results. Then select the candidate that performs to the expectations of the position. Make any necessary adjustments to the assessments as necessary and document any changes.
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