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Employee Assessments: Top 5 Things to Enhance Candidate Reactions

January 14, 2014

When choosing a selection tool, the most important element to consider is how well the test predicts future job performance.  Another element that should be considered, but is often overlooked, is the reaction of the candidates throughout the process.  It’s important to not only make sure that the test is accurate but also to make sure that all candidates enjoy the assessment process.  Even though you only select the candidate that is the best fit for the job, the candidates you don’t hire could still be your future customers.  So, it’s critical to ensure that they have a positive experience. 

One of the biggest factors that can affect candidate reactions is a sense of fairness.  When candidates feel the test, process, and decision was fair, they are more likely to feel positive about the entire process and the organization.  There are two major benefits of this.  First, the candidates you offer a position to will be more likely to accept it if they had a good application experience.  Second, the candidates who are not offered a position will still think positively of the organization and may continue to be a future customer.  Below are the top 5 things you can do to facilitate a more positive experience in your candidates:

1. Use tests that are more favorable to candidates.  Work samples, interviews, cognitive ability tests, situational judgment tests, biodata measures and personality tests are all rated as being favorable to candidates.  These tools can be very interactive, can capture several different competencies, and are shown to be reliable and accurate when used appropriately.


2. Make sure the tests provide candidates the opportunity to perform.  When your selection process captures the full range of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the job, candidates are able to demonstrate several different factors leading to effective performance, not only one.  This enhances reactions because candidates feel they were able to be in more control of the process by providing greater input.  Additionally, when the assessments are “face valid,” or when they seem to be covering what they are intended to measure, participants are more likely to feel that the test is relevant to the job and therefore they feel the process is fairer.


3. Use consistency in your process.  Being consistent in how you administer your assessments is important not only for legal reasons but also so the candidates feel they are all being treated equally.  Therefore, it’s necessary to standardize the content of the tools, the scoring of the tools, and the interpretation of the scores.  This consistency (or lack thereof) can really become apparent when hiring managers rely on unstructured interviews.  Unstructured interviews are less accurate and are perceived as less consistent than structured interviews.


4. Communicate with candidates about the process.  Being upfront with candidates about what they can expect makes candidates feel like they are a greater part of the experience.  Provide candidates an overview of what to expect and also be clear what will be involved during each step.  On the other hand, allow candidates the opportunity to ask questions about the process or the job so they can feel more informed.


5. Treat the candidates with respect.  It goes without saying that all the candidates should be treated with respect and honesty.  Even though they may not be a good fit for the job position in question, they may be a good fit for another job at the company or may be a potential customer.  A little bit of respect can go a long way.


One of the ways we gauge candidate reactions to our assessments, is to ask them a few questions about their testing experience after the assessment.  Candidates consistently feel that our assessments are very relevant and interesting—both of which are critical for making the candidate experience positive.  Additionally, it’s important to remember that it’s not only the test that can enhance candidate reactions.  There are several steps you can take to make sure that your candidates come away with a positive experience.

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Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.