What Does a Talent Assessment Specialist Do?

The market for talent assessments is hot, and the need for assessment expertise will only grow. Data from Rocket-Hire’s assessment market report reveals that, in just five years (between 2015-2020), the pre-hire talent assessment market has grown by a shocking 98%. With so many companies implementing pre-hire assessments — many for the first time — talent assessment specialists are in demand to provide guidance.

But what exactly does a talent assessment specialist do, and why is it important?

Here’s everything you need to know about what a talent assessment specialist does and the value they can offer as a partner in the development and execution of winning talent strategies.

What is Talent Assessment?

Assessments are broadly defined under the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures as “all selection procedures used to make employment decisions, including written tests, interviews, review of experience or education from application forms, résumés, work samples, physical requirements, and evaluations of performance.”

Talent assessments are valuable tools for evaluating candidates based on objective, job-related criteria. Personality and skills assessments, situational judgment tests and job simulations all provide crucial data to help you determine the best-fit candidate for each open position.

There are several good business reasons why talent assessments, a tool set that has been available for over 50 years, are in vogue now and continue to become an integral part of the hiring process for employers across the globe.

First, talent assessments help recruiters and hiring managers to identify the best candidates at scale. Assessing candidates at scale is especially important in this new normal where employers might receive hundreds of applications per opening. Assessments make it possible to evaluate candidates objectively based on essential criteria, which makes it easier to identify top candidates for each role.

In addition to skills and aptitudes, assessments also identify a candidate’s values and motivation. When you hire people whose values align with the company’s, you increase your odds of improving engagement and retention.

But talent assessments require strategic direction if they’re to provide the right data to help you make better hiring decisions. Without knowing which human characteristics to assess for in each position, the data you do gather won’t provide any predictive value. Talent assessment specialists can offer the strategic guidance you need to effectively leverage assessments in the hiring process.

What Do Talent Assessment Specialists Work On?

Talent assessment specialists apply their expertise to support talent strategy in several ways.

Designing a Talent Assessment Strategy

Talent assessment specialists can review the organization’s strategy and objectives to help design a strategic plan for implementing pre-hire talent assessments. One vital function is conducting job analyses to help the company understand what human traits and characteristics are essential to measure pre-hire and how they support broader organizational agendas.

Specialists can translate the results of organizational and job analyses into a blueprint for your assessment program. They might develop an “Assessment Charter,” for example, based on “success parameters” identified during their analysis. Specialists answer logistical questions, too, such as when in the hiring process to incorporate assessments, what types to use and what technical requirements they’ll entail.

Vetting External Assessment Vendors

The assessments you use to make hiring decisions must be valid (truly measure what they claim to measure) and reliable (produce consistent results). Talent assessment specialists can vet external vendors for product quality and their ability to meet technical standards.

If vendors aren’t the right choice for your company, talent assessment specialists can build in-house assessment solutions that are customized to meet your needs.

Maintaining Legal Compliance and Defensibility

Talent assessment specialists can periodically audit assessment tools and practices for compliance with guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other public entities. Specialists will review assessments for potential adverse impact against protected classes, for example, and ensure that assessments remain job-relevant. The rapid growth of AI-based talent evaluation tools and the concern around the bias they can create has upped the ante in the compliance arena. Talent assessment specialists are the first line of defense when it comes to evaluating AI-based vendors and holding them accountable.

How to Hire a Talent Assessment Specialist

There are different ways to work with a talent assessment specialist. First, you can create a full-time talent assessment specialist position on staff. Beyond developing and executing your assessment strategy, these employees can provide deeper meaning to the “human” aspect of human resources. If you don’t have the need for a full-time specialist, you can bring in a consultant or contractor for a specific job, such as conducting job analyses or selecting the right vendor to meet your needs.

Talent assessment specialists you hire or consult should have a strong background in industrial and organizational (IO) psychology. Specialists who are members of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) have verified credentials and demonstrated experience, providing basic criteria for evaluating potential assessment partners.

Talent assessment specialists will provide value in many ways. For companies relying on pre-hire assessments to make objective hiring decisions, consulting a specialist is the first step to getting the most value out of your assessment tools and processes.