In Defense of Talent Assessments in a Tight Labor Market

Let’s face it — the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic have had an unprecedented impact on the labor market. Talent is in short supply, and with the Great Resignation underway, companies may be losing workers faster than they can add them.

As employers scramble to figure out how to overcome these challenges, abandoning the use of pre-hire assessments may seem like an easy way to increase your options for talent. If you’re working off the assumption that assessments mainly function to weed out candidates, it’s easy to see why you’d think they’re an unnecessary hurdle when you’re already struggling to fill open reqs. 

However, well-designed talent assessments can actually help expand your talent pool while increasing the likelihood that you select the right people to fill those reqs, making them a critical part of evolved and creative talent acquisition strategies. Here’s how. 

Assessments Don’t Actually Scare Candidates Away

Offering a compelling candidate experience is key to attracting more candidates. Some employers hesitate to use assessments, believing they cause a poor candidate experience. However, the research clearly shows that an assessment on its own won’t cause a candidate to bail on your application. 

Creating a great experience with assessments depends on using the right type of assessment, placing it in the right spot, and communicating with applicants about the value it has for both parties. Candidates actually appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities through job-relevant assessment tools.

When positioned, chosen, and placed correctly, assessments can actually support your employer brand and help you fill pipelines that are running dry. 

The impact of a good talent assessment program is amplified exponentially when it is tied to creative recruitment strategies that are designed to find and engage talent from non-traditional places. 

Assessments Can Help Increase Diversity

While assessments are sometimes blamed for creating bias, well-designed assessments can actually be powerful engines for diversity and inclusion. In a tight labor market, employers looking for the same old talent in the same old places are the ones who are feeling the most pain.

Employers who have had the courage to abandon the use of resumes and academic credentials — which generally tell you more about the socioeconomic background of the applicant than their actual potential to succeed in a role — in favor of assessments are being rewarded with heaps of candidates with raw talent from non-traditional places. 

Assessments provide a way to get at the true capabilities of applicants who do not have formal and traditional academic credentials. Assessments are also a great way to identify candidates who have the skills your business will need in the future. In a swiftly evolving workplace, aptitudes for curiosity and continuous learning are better predictors of performance than past accomplishments. Assessments help you measure those more stable personality traits in candidates and offer a clearer picture of their on-the-job potential. 

When deployed as objective, reliable, and accurate tools that support diversity and inclusion efforts, it is easy to see how assessments can support effective hiring in a tight labor market.

Assessments Don’t Have to be Pass/Fail

Assessments don’t have to be used in a way that automatically screens candidates out of your applicant pool. They aren’t always intended to be used as a pass/fail hurdle. Rather, pre-hire assessments should be used to provide additional, objective data points for evaluating candidates.

For example, assessment results can provide interviewers with signals and cues about candidates’ potential strengths and weaknesses. This information allows interviewers to make the most of the short time they have with the candidate by optimizing their questions to probe around potential trouble spots. Then, when choosing between finalists, assessment data can help the hiring team focus on the factors that matter most.

With the power of a well-thought-out talent assessment strategy, you can build a more diverse, capable, and viable candidate pool even in a talent shortage.