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6 talent assessment methods to use for recruiting in your company

Talent assessment methods are crucial in the hiring process as they provide an indication of whether candidates can perform the job and fit well in the company culture. These methods include work samples, job simulations, cognitive ability testing, AI-powered video interviews, job trials, and exercises or games.

Nikoletta Bika
Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

talent assessment

Let’s say you’ve got two good candidates in front of you: both with strong resumes and successful phone screens. They’re both fully qualified. But, who’s the best between them? Does a red flag exist about their ability to do the job that you haven’t seen yet? And what if it wasn’t just two candidates, but 10 or 20?

That’s where a talent assessment would come in handy.

The concept of a ‘talent assessment’ as part of the hiring process isn’t new, but it’s still going strong. According to a 2019 LinkedIn report, 57% of recruiting professionals use soft skills assessments, and 60% think these assessments will make a great impact in the next five years.

That’s because talent assessments provide an indication about whether candidates can do the job you’re hiring for, and also if they fit well in your company culture and team. By using pre-employment assessment tools, you’ll be able to reduce the number of candidates to a small, super-qualified group. That way, you get insight into the candidates’ skills and you make your process much more efficient.

So, if you’re wondering how to evaluate talent, here’s a list of six talent assessment test types that can prove useful to your hiring processes:

1. Work samples

The work sample is a piece of actual work that a candidate will complete. Usually, it’ll be closely related to the job they applied to. For example, an SEO specialist can be asked to conduct keyword research for one specific topic, an accountant could be asked to apply a few formulas, and a developer may be asked to write a short piece of code.

These talent assessment tools have been shown to be the most effective in predicting job performance. And that makes sense; work samples gauge ability to do a specific work first-hand.

Of course, work samples shouldn’t be so much work that candidates feel they’re working for free (this may impact candidate experience and, consequently, your employer brand). Clarity here is essential; communicate clearly to the candidate the purpose of this work sample and that it will not be used for business purposes. In some cases, you may even compensate them for the time invested in producing the sample.

Make sure you’re asking them to produce work that’s as closely related to the position they’re applying to as possible – this way, you can also help them better understand the role and how much they’d like it.

2. Job simulations

You may have heard of the famous interview question “Can you sell me this pen?”. It’s usually presented to salespeople to evaluate skills like persuasion and thinking on their feet. This is what a job simulation is.

This type of talent assessment is similar to the work sample, but it involves more on-the-spot work. A job simulation can be done during the interview or via online hiring assessment tools. For example, you can send assessments to candidates that ask them to handle a disgruntled customer over chat, do a presentation, or sell something a bit more complex than a pen.

Similar to job simulation tests are situational interview questions. These questions ask the candidate to explain their reaction to a hypothetical scenario at work. Each candidate’s answers shed light on their way of thinking and how they’d approach a tricky situation.

3. Cognitive ability testing

Cognitive ability tests can also be called “Intelligence tests” or “General Aptitude Tests”. They usually include numerical and verbal reasoning, as well as logic exercises, but they can also branch out to memory, problem-solving, attention to detail and more. These talent assessments help you evaluate candidates’ general intelligence and ability to comprehend various concepts and solve basic problems.

Before you administer cognitive aptitude tests, make sure they’re reliable and well-validated. For this, you can try out providers that specialize in these types of assessments. For example, a recruitment platform like Workable can help you send assessments via integrated partners like Criteria Corp, MindX, etc.

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4. AI-powered video interviews

Asynchronous interviews have started becoming more and more popular: this type of interview lets candidates record answers to questions and allows interviewers to evaluate the answers at their own time. Apart from the convenience of these interviews, AI technology has also turned them into talent assessment tools.

For example, face-scanning algorithms can be used to assess candidates’ tone, word choice, and other factors to determine the best person for the job. Companies like HireVue have developed this kind of technology.

Of course, there are concerns involved. Built-in biases are an issue in most artificial intelligence applications, and there are also doubts about the scientific basis of analyzing expressions to predict job performance. So, this may not be the type of talent assessment to jump into haphazardly, but it’s definitely one to watch.

5. Job trials

A tried-and-true way to judge a candidate’s ability to perform specific duties, as well as how they fit in your existing team. Candidates will usually work for a day or two at an agreed-upon pay rate. That way, both candidate and employer can see if they’re well-matched.

Job trials aren’t possible for every profession, but they’ll usually work well for blue-collar roles. For example, a machinist, a production supervisor, or a pipefitter could easily go through job trials if the law allows it.

Of course, keep in mind the limitations of this talent assessment: first, it’ll consume a few hours from the hiring team’s normal working day, since they’ll need to be close to the candidate to evaluate them and help them when needed. For this reason, it’s best if job trials are conducted only for the finalists in a hiring process. Also, consider that some candidates may already be employed so they might not be able to take time off.

So, use job trials whenever it makes sense for both you and the candidate.

6. Exercises and games

These are the more obscure talent assessments. Exercises are usually done in group interviews where the interviewers may ask candidates to work together to solve a problem or debate a particular issue. The hiring team will observe and draw conclusions about each candidate’s abilities and attitude. A more popular variation may be hackathons that companies often hold for coding applicants.

Gamification is also one of these talent assessment examples. Employers can use online tools that have been specifically developed for judging candidate abilities via games. These assessments are best used at the beginning of the hiring process in order to reduce the number of applicants.

Depending on the form of these assessments, their effectiveness might vary. For example, simply evaluating candidates in a group discussion might open the road to biases. But, letting them win a hackathon or other small competition might yield more impartial results. In these assessments, you have room to experiment and finetune when needed.

How to choose the best talent assessment for your company

First, you may need to take a deeper look at your hiring process. Is your initial screening effective? Are there delays in any step of the process? For example, if the majority of candidates who move to the interview phase are qualified, then your current selection practices probably work well, and you can then look into efficiency and speed.

So, depending on where the improvements need to be made, you can choose the assessments that work best for each role. Determine what you want to do and research recruiting assessment tools that will help you make that happen. Some assessment providers can also integrate nicely with a talent acquisition platform that will power up your hiring process as a whole.

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