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The Best Times to Use an Employee Assessment in the Hiring Process

July 21, 2015

hiring-funnelYou’ve decided to use an assessment or two in your hiring process and now you need to decide when to administer them. Timing is everything, and assessments are no exception. The first thing you should consider is the type of assessment you’re using.

Screening assessments (used to screen candidates out) are best used towards the beginning of your process, ideally right after the initial application. By doing this, you’re only assessing candidates who have met the minimum qualifications of the job and you’re not wasting time and money by assessing everyone. These types of assessment typically help to weed out people who may be a safety, turnover, dependability, or quality risk to your organization. They aren’t necessarily helpful in selecting the potential top performers, but they will narrow your candidate pool by deselecting those who may be risky.

In-depth assessments should come later, either right after the screening assessment or after an initial phone screening. These are tests that probe deeper into a candidate’s characteristics and are typically customized to a specific type of job. Examples include assessments for leaders, healthcare workers, sales professionals, etc. The role of this kind of test is to give the hiring team a better idea of how good of a fit a candidate is for the job in question. By the time you have an applicant go through an in-depth assessment, you have (ideally) already determined that they’re not a risky candidate. Still, it’s best to wait until after the in-depth assessment to have an interview. Before you’re ready to interview a candidate you want to have as much information on them as possible – and an in-depth assessment can help here.

Don’t forget about the interview either. An interview, by definition, is an assessment of the potential employee. While you may be using a basic phone screen interview early on in the hiring process, an in-depth, behavioral interview should be used later in the hiring process. A behavioral interview will give the hiring manager a level playing field to assess candidates on. You want to be sure that each candidate you interview is being screened in a consistent, structured manner. This type of interview will also allow you to better determine the motivational fit of each candidate, and avoid common pitfalls when interviewing.

Through your whole process, consistency is the most important factor to keep in mind. Once you’ve outlined a hiring process flow, stick to it. Making exceptions or switching steps means that each candidate is not having the same experience. It also means opening your organization up to risk if an audit of any kind were to occur. For example, if resume reviews aren’t set to happen until after two assessments and a phone screen, don’t change steps around by taking a look at a resume earlier in the process. Resume reviews, in particular, are subjective, and making decisions based on a resume can affect fairness.

To sum up:

  1. Determine the types of employee assessments you want to use in your hiring process.
  2. Define a process that makes sense in terms of candidate volume, the position, and hiring team resources.
  3. Stick to that process.

Are All Employee Assessments Alike?

Rose Keith Rose Keith is a former Consultant with PSI. Rose managed selection process implementation projects and worked with clients to ensure that these processes were working well. She also managed, developed, and delivered training programs, both externally and within PSI.