Three developments in graduate assessment will make recruiters’ lives easier, says Dr Achim Preuss, co-founder and chief technology officer of international talent measurement and assessment specialist cut-e.
Advances in technology, mobile access, social sourcing, big data, gamification, integrated talent management and predictive analytics have transformed the process of graduate recruitment. But the goals remain the same. Recruiters still want to showcase their employer brand, provide an immersive candidate experience and select the right people.
Online assessments - which were previously used near the end of the recruitment process, to avoid the risk of making a bad hire - are now employed at a much earlier stage to provide meaningful, job-relevant insights about candidates. But assessment isn’t standing still; new developments are continually occurring. Here are three key trends that are worth watching.
1. A greater focus on context. Studies have consistently shown that cognitive ability tests and personality tests are strong predictors of behaviour. They are ... but the context matters. If you run graduate assessment centres, you’ll no doubt try to mimic a real-life situation from your workplace, to see how candidates respond. This often happens in supervised on-site assessment situations - and it can now be replicated in unsupervised assessment with next-generation Situational Judgement Questionnaires (SJQs).
A typical SJQ will describe a scenario - perhaps including pictures or a video - and it will ask the candidate how they would respond. As bespoke tests are expensive, you ideally want to be able to cost effectively customise the scenarios to suit the context of your workplace. Secondly, because today’s graduates increasingly use their smartphones and tablets not only to search for jobs online but also to submit applications, you should ideally optimise your test for mobile devices.
Customisable, mobile-enabled SJQs that appeal to graduates are the latest cutting-edge development in psychometric testing. For example, at cut-e, we’ve launched an instant messaging simulation game, which provides a situational judgement assessment of a candidate’s strengths, personality and abilities, in the style of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Called chatAssess, it runs on any device and the content can be tailored to suit any organisation.
Realistic and engaging assessments such as this, which assess candidates in the right context, will increasingly be used in graduate recruitment. They not only provide an insight into a candidate’s behaviour, how they’re likely to react in job-relevant scenarios and whether they’ll ‘fit’ within the organisation, they also help candidates to feel that the assessment process is relevant to the role.
Context will continue to grow in importance and, in time, it is likely that situational judgement assessments will evolve further into virtual reality simulations with digitised role play.
2. Combined video assessments. Pre-screening applicants with a video interview, in which they record and return answers to standard questions, isn’t new. But much is changing behind the scenes. Firstly, in the drive to create candidate-centric recruitment, it doesn’t help if you have to ask candidates to complete assessments on one platform and then conduct a video interview on another. Also, traditional video interview footage tends to integrate into a separate part of an applicant tracking system; it has to be manually rated and it doesn’t provide you with analytics.
Combined video assessments are now being developed which offer a seamless candidate experience, as the assessments and the video interviews are managed through a single platform.
This, in itself, is valuable but soon voice recognition systems will evaluate the resultant video footage and analyse a candidate’s vocabulary, tone and syntax to assess their personality, motivation and cognitive capability. Facial recognition systems will also decode the facial expressions and emotions of candidates. Artificial intelligence will enable you to ‘teach’ your system to automatically rate applicants in the same way that you would.
Recruiters will therefore be able to screen applicants at an early stage using assessments and a video interview - and you’ll be able to store all of the resultant data and use it for talent analytics. What’s more, adding video to traditional assessments will prevent cheating as you’ll be able to see exactly who took each test.
3. Improved pre-selection in the gig economy. Online assessments, and predictions made by machine learning tools based on a range of inputs, can take the guesswork out of matching people and businesses in the gig economy.
This could reach a stage where graduates will apply to your organisation - for full-time roles or short-term projects - with their own complete profile of their abilities and their personality, which they’ll have gained by undertaking a range of assessments themselves. Graduates will therefore become even more aware of their own strengths, weaknesses and development needs - and this should mean that they’ll only apply for roles that directly suit their profile.
This will make your job easier in the future, as you’ll be able to reject any applicants at the outset who don’t meet your criteria. You can then run your own assessments both as a check and to further sift down your applicant pool.
These are just three developments in graduate assessment that are worth watching. With the right assessment partner, you can improve the quality of the people you hire, make your recruitment process more efficient and make the candidate experience engaging and fair.
Assessment and selection tools used by recruiters are analysed in the AGR’s Annual Survey