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Analogue Assessment comes of (digital) Age

by Kirstin Schulz

Head of Assessment Consulting 26th Apr 2016

For some, including me - a child of the 70’s - it’s difficult to get your head around the idea that “assessment” is going mobile. One of my first roles in assessment was to supervise “testing centres” for a global bank who regularly flew in hundreds of graduates from around the globe to sit paper and pencil numerical reasoning tests. These would then be manually scored by my team, and those who passed were sent off to their HR interviews, whereas those unfortunate ones who didn’t were sent straight back home – be that on a plane to Hong Kong or on a train to Hounslow. That could mean 7-8 hours on a plane, for a 30 minute test, and you wouldn’t even have met anyone from the business. Mind you – this was in 2007, not 1970, so not that long ago, really!

A situation like that is unthinkable in today’s world, where candidate experience, company spend and the purpose and objectives of assessments are under so much scrutiny.

Luckily, things have moved on from these “dark times” – we started to embrace unsupervised online testing, we then came to terms with the idea that IT systems might crash or freeze, and we developed ways to mitigate the risk of cheating. Yet one thing hasn’t changed: The idea that assessment is a serious and complex business that should only be undertaken by highly qualified individuals. Correct, right?

Well….. yes and no.

While there is no doubt that the design of relevant, valid and reliable assessments are and should lie in the capable hands of specialists who understand the make-up of various psychological constructs (personality traits, drivers, cognitive abilities etc.), one could argue that the way these assessments are operationalised and delivered could do with further “updating”.  In 2014, mobile internet traffic overtook ‘the desktop’. 

"Across HR we have already seen the shift from an organisation-centric to a candidate-centric approach in branding, communications, messaging and marketing."

Candidates are now demanding not only a seamless, fully branded recruitment experience, they also want the following: Assessments that feel 100% relevant to the job or company they applied for, assessments that they can complete at their own convenience, and finally, assessments that include instant, meaningful feedback.

Unfortunately, from talking to both candidates and clients alike, the reality is still that assessments are more often than not a “tick box” exercise.  They often bear limited relevance to the role, and still require candidates to log on via a laptop or desktop.  In today’s market, most assessments usually provide limited to no feedback at all.

I’m not talking about instances where organisations spend time, effort and a great deal of investment on in-depth profiling of their critical hires, using the range of incredibly valuable online psychometrics tools that are available, assessing various personality traits, strengths, de-railers, strategic thinking abilities, emotional intelligence….. whatever they might be. I’m talking about instances where single online assessments are used as a way to “sift out” unwanted volumes of applicants. Where they are used as a simplistic “stop-gate” or - even worse – as “excuses” for hiring managers or recruiters to reject candidates when they haven’t got other means and ways to make a more meaningful, holistic assessment. In many organisations, their testing approach has not changed in years - despite the reality that technology and their test audience is vastly different to what it was just five years ago.

In the world of sourcing and attraction, it’s all about the candidate.

Time for the world of assessment to catch up!


For more expert insights into Assessment, check out our webinar and white paper!

Our Making the Business Case for Assessment webinar with Kirstin Schulz explores best practice approaches to Assessment, while addressing how you can get Assessment on the table for discussion with business leaders.

Our Assessment White Paper, shares experts’ insights and best practice tips from talent leaders at major blue-chip organisations such as Barclaycard, Deloitte, Electrocomponents and Santander. Don't miss it!


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