Chris Russell

2 min read



Skill Assessments Help Make Better Hires

It wasn’t that long ago that employers had few ways of knowing if a candidate who looked good on paper actually had the skills to do the job. Today, they have hundreds of ways making sure.

Skills assessments testing has become common practice among companies of all sizes. One in four businesses now conduct skills assessment before hiring new college grads. A survey of large corporations in 2016 found 82% were using some type  of pre-employment assessments. 

The rising popularity of skills assessment testing is do in no small part to technology. Most skills assessments today are taken and scored online, with the results available to the recruiter and hiring manager as soon as the test is complete. Besides eliminating delays in hiring, it also lets the candidate know where they stand.

Democratizing Skills Assessment

Even more significant is how the internet has democratize skills assessment. The cost of standardized skills assessments can be as little as only a few dollars. even makes many of the most popular ones free. This has made it possible for even the smallest of employers to have a measure of confidence in the quality of the people they hire.

Mercer, the global investment, health and HR consulting firm, says, “The most striking benefit is that (the tests) can screen out applicants not meant for a specific work environment early in the process. These tests can be utilized for entry-level recruitment and also employed when hiring for middle and senior management roles.”

Beyond learning if a candidate has the basic skills, assessments help a company identify any gaps in their abilities so training can be tailored to the specific needs of the candidate. Skills assessments also make it possible to “map” the existing skills of the workforce so managers know who can cover vacancies, who may need additional training and what other skills workers may have.

Skills assessments provide management with greater insight into the organization’s pool of talent and helps identify the more versatile and skilled high performers.

With literally thousands of tests available from over 100 companies, selecting the right skills assessments can be challenging. The most important step is knowing just what to test for. That depends on the nature of the job and the duties and responsibilities of the position. 

Selecting a Skills Assessment

Mercer lists a few factors to consider in selecting a skills assessment:

  1. Objectives: Is the only purpose of the test to decide if a candidate can do the advertised job or will the test be used to identify other skills and candidate potential? Or develop a workforce skills map?
  2. What to measure: While the nature of the job will dictate the primary purpose of the test, there may be other aspects, such as a candidate’s soft skills. 
  3. What are the characteristics of the assessment: Consider such factors as whether the skills assessment is proven valid by scientific testing. This is essential to avoid potential bias in the test. Tests should also be customizable to accommodate special needs and situations.

While testing the ability to do the required work is the most common use of assessment, companies are also going beyond the technical requirements to assess a candidate’s soft skills, such as their communication, problem solving, initiative and the like.

For jobs handling money, such as cashiers, candidates may take an integrity test to measure their basic honesty. The general aptitude test measures candidate’s skill at solving problems. Emotional intelligence tests seek to determine how well the candidate handles conflict, works as a team and is adaptable.

While the types of tests are nearly endless, the question most important to a hiring manager is “Can the candidate do the job I need?” Skills assessment give that manager the confidence that the answer is yes.

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