Assessment Tools in the Hiring Process

by Susan Mullin

Assessment tools are increasingly part of the interview process—Learn why TorchLight and other companies use these tools, what you can expect, and why they lead to better “job matches”

Hiring a new employee is expensive and time-consuming, even under the best of circumstances. And, if a new hire isn’t the right fit, repeating the search process adds more time and expense. That’s why employers and recruiters—as many as 75% of all U.S. companies today—increasingly rely on predictive assessment tools to help evaluate the strengths and traits of job candidates. That means if you’re interviewing for a new job, you should expect an assessment as part of your initial screening process.

In fact, TorchLight relies on an assessment tool to screen all candidates as part of our search process for internal staff.

Why do companies use assessment tools?

Contrary to what many job seekers (incorrectly) assume, assessment tools aren’t intended to serve as a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to weed you out from the competition. Rather, they are designed to uncover your unique skills and natural traits to predict how you may perform in certain settings.

When considering job candidates, companies typically evaluate individuals in three key areas: skills, knowledge and behavior. All three are equally important, but the weight given to each depends on the job. Some highly technical jobs, like engineering, require specific skills above all else. But for most jobs, employers are as interested in a candidate’s natural behavioral traits as their specific skills.

“Think of the front desk person at a hotel,” explains Teri Kinsella whose company, PI Worldwide, created the Predictive Index® Suite, one of the nation’s leading predictive assessment tools (and used by TorchLight). “An employer can teach certain skills—like how to use their property management system—but they can’t teach someone to smile for eight hours a day, to connect naturally with people or to stay positive while dealing with disgruntled guests. These are behavioral traits that are critical to success in the role.” These skills are innate and typically not trainable.

Why should hiring managers use assessment tools?

Perhaps you’re a hiring manager looking to hire a new sales person right out of school. “You know the individual won’t have sales skills yet, and you can teach those,” Kinsella explains. “You want someone who is a self-starter, who is competitive and ambitious, and who is comfortable closing the deal. Those, again, are the skills you can’t teach.”

Assessment tools are designed to uncover these behavioral traits to help potential employers understand more about you. They show insight beyond your practical skills and experience. Don’t be intimidated by or afraid of them. They are a useful tool for both job seeker and employer.

If you’re a job seeker, here are a few tips for taking an assessment survey:

1. Your #1 goal is to be as cooperative as possible

More likely than not, an assessment will be part of your interview, so be ready and willing to proceed.

2. It’s OK to ask what you can expect from the survey

Ask things like how long it will take to complete so you can allocate enough time to complete it.

3. Complete the survey within 24 hours

Prompt attention demonstrates that you’re interested in the job and that it’s a priority for you.

4. Don’t try to “game” or overthink it

You are who you are. Be honest. There are no right or wrong answers when taking a behavioral assessment.

5. While you can ask for your results, it’s generally best not to

Otherwise, you run the risk of appearing high-maintenance or complicated.

If you’re an employer, here are some ways you can use assessment tools’ surveys for maximum impact:

Use it to help focus your interview questions

This helps you address possible areas of concern faster.

1. Don’t use the survey in place of other assessment tools

“A behavioral assessment is really just one piece of the puzzle,” cautions Kinsella. “It should be used along with traditional methods of evaluating candidates: reviewing the resume, conducting interviews, doing reference checks, etc.”

2. Once you’ve hired someone, refer to the survey results to help customize the onboarding process

The first week on the job is the critical time when the employee is deciding if they’ve made a mistake or not. By creating an orientation and training process that is aligned with the natural traits of the employee, you are starting on the best possible foot.

3. Use the survey as a management tool, not only a hiring tool

Being aware of your style and your colleagues’ styles helps you communicate and work more effectively. Adds Kinsella: “As a manager, sit down with your employee and review each other’s profiles, noting areas where you’re similar and areas where you’re different.

This can help you identify areas where you may have conflict, so you can be proactive in how you work together. People feel more comfortable working with colleagues who show their vulnerabilities and who admit they aren’t perfect – It builds trust from the beginning.”

As human beings, we all have our strong points and our weaker points. In the end, it all comes down to finding the right person for the right job—and then ensuring a culture of communication where stronger relationships create more productivity and, ultimately, a more successful team.

predictive index logo-- one of our favorite assessment tools

Looking for a new tool? Learn about the Predictive Index® Survey, one of the assessment tools used by TorchLight Hire and thousands of other recruiters and companies nationwide.

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