In today’s world, smartphones are one of the most powerful tools we possess, and are used for far more than just communication. In 2017, 63% of all internet based traffic in the US originated from mobiles. It seems likely that it will reach a full two-thirds of all traffic by the end of 2018. Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies are not even equipped with mobile optimized career sites, according to a recent “Corporate Mobile Readiness” report. A report by Ofcom highlights that consumers report the smartphone is now the most important device for connecting to the internet.
Despite the proliferation of smartphones, this emphasis on users accessing tests via smartphones is not always reflected in the online tools that organizations implement. A study by Kelton consultancy reports that only 2.8% of submitted applications come from a mobile-friendly website. Consequently, a large trend in recruitment is for the website and tests in the initial phase of recruitment to follow a mobile-first design.
What is it?
As the name suggests, mobile-first design is the process of designing a website or piece of software for mobiles or small-screened devices first, then working up to large-screened devices. This isn’t a new phenomenon and has been around for a few years but now that they are the primary device used for browsing the web, this has specifically impacted recruitment.
How is it being used?
The requirement for a mobile-first design could be applied to every interaction a candidate makes with a prospective employer. The area that probably would need the most practical impact is how mobile-friendly the career site is. However, the main area of focus of this trend is in how it has shaped and influenced the world of online testing. Simply making a test compatible with mobiles is not enough: the format, what it is measuring, and the usability needed to be readjusted and rebuilt to ensure the candidate experience is optimal.
Fairness: Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that there is still a divide in the technology different socioeconomic groups have access to. Research has shown that there is also a difference in the extent smartphones are used by different ethnic groups. In fact, 2015 data shows that 55% of Hispanics and African Americans had used their phone over the past year to find job information (compared with only 37% of whites), and are more than twice as likely to submit a job application via their phone. A key benefit of adapting tests to have a mobile-first design ensures all users have the same level of access to a recruitment process.
Convenience: The success of an online recruitment process is increasingly being defined by the end-user experience. In a study by the Office for National Statistics, 73% of adults accessed the internet “on the go” using a mobile phone or smartphone in 2017. This is more than double the 2011 rate of 36%, highlighting the growth in popularity. One out of five candidates said they would be deterred from completing an application if they couldn’t do it from a mobile device. Therefore, by designing a process that is compatible with the widest range of technologies will make the process more convenient for candidates.
Complexity: If designing a test to be used on mobiles, there are some limitations to consider. Due to the size of screen displays of mobiles, for usability reasons, you are unable to present candidates with a lot of complex information. The requirement for simplicity may also mean that you cannot assess an individual using complex question types.
Candidate preferences: Even though the usage of smartphones has increased significantly, this may not be reflected in a candidate’s preferences. In our own research with graduates, 49.8% indicated that they would be most likely to use a laptop to complete online assessments, while 30.4% indicated they would use a smartphone, suggesting that the majority of candidates prefer the use of laptops when being tested.