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When should you use workplace assessment solutions for hiring?

What is the best time to utilize workplace assessments (behavioral and/or cognitive) during the hiring process? For example, would you use them before or after the hiring manager phone screen?



  • This is a great question, @Rob Mooney ! I imagine it would depend on the organization and what kind of assessment they're using. For example, if it's a pay-per-assessment model, an org might want to wait until AFTER the first interview to administer an assessment. It's really important to note, for fairness reasons, that wherever the assessment gets placed, that's how & when it's administered for everyone else.

    One thing I've seen really irk candidates is when they've gone through multiple interviews (let's say recruiter and hiring manager—maybe even another), then they take an assessment and are declined for the role. While an org might understand, on their end, why they're using that assessment and what kind of fit they're looking for in a role, it leaves a really sour taste in a candidate's mouth.

    I think of a lot of stuff like this in a parallel context: dating. Let's say you went on a few dates with people, then they said, "What's your Zodiac sign?" (NOT that Zodiac is scientific/akin to an assessment we'd use in hiring. Using this for the analogy, solely.) And you answered whatever your sign is, they got up, left the table, and you were left thinking, "What the heck just happened?" It's easy to blame the Zodiac sign for the date ending—or to look at the other person and think they're a whackjob. That's similar to how candidates feel when they've gone through multiple interviews and then an assessment is used to determine their fit (or lack thereof). So I'd just caution folks to be careful of that perception of "Well, they liked me until I took this stupid assessment."

    @Allison Siminovsky @Kristen Robertson @Will Otto -- you'd all have some great thoughts here.

  • I used to work at an organization that administered assessments only during the finalist round. The positive: fewer candidates had the feeling of taking an assessment, and never seeing results. The serious downside is that you are opening a Pandora's box w/ your finalists. What if none of them are a fit for the role, behaviorally or cognitively? Humans are super susceptible to the sunk cost fallacy and may go ahead despite knowing that they are dealing w/ folks who are only okay fits. If you delay assessments until that late in the process, then a candidate may think (whether right or wrong) that they were good candidate until they took an assessment, and then point to that assessment and its results as the reason for their being disqualified. That's bad candidate experience - if there is information you can gather early to qualify or disqualify someone and it's not going to change, you should do so before you ask someone to take time off work and join you for an on-site.

    That's ultimately where I fall: do absolutely as much legwork and discovery as you can before an on-site, and the earlier the better. Yes, it may narrow your pipeline, but if you are committed to "right person, right role," then you and your team will be build a brand around candidate quality that engenders trust, collaboration, and partnership. A narrow pipeline means more efficiency, which, unless you have more recruiting capacity than you know what to do with, that's a win.

  • This really is a great question, @Rob Mooney . As @Shannon Howard mentioned, whatever is decided, the assessments should be administered at the same step for all candidates.

    As to what step this is, it really depends on the type of assessment. For example, laborious work sample assessments should probably only be administered later in the process to the top few candidates. Behavioral and cognitive assessments, particularly short ones, are likely to be administered more early on. On the other hand, if the candidates are expected to take a whole panel of behavioral and cognitive assessments (as I have seen done in previous experiences), it might be better to wait to a later point. Candidate experience is really the name of the game here--if you're taking a significant amount of someone's time, you should feel pretty strongly about their candidacy.

  • Excellent question @Rob Mooney. I’ve seen various companies administer a host of assessments at various times, before, during and after the hiring process with inconsistent results. As I understand it, there are many assessments that can’t be used to make a hiring decision as they don’t comply with EEOC guidelines and some assessment providers explicitly state on their websites that their assessment shouldn’t be used to make a hiring decision.  

    A common misconception is that the EEOC approves or disapproves assessment tools. They do not. The EEOC does require that if used for selecting a candidate, an instrument must meet EEOC guidelines for compliance. The Predictive Index is validated according to EEOC guidelines.

    Assuming we are discussing the use of Predictive Index tools, I’ve experienced the best success by developing a PI Job Model for each specific role or position and administering the PI Behavioral Assessment prior to the initial phone screen. This approach has saved countless hours of interview time and dramatically increased job fit since we weed out poor behavioral fits, regardless of their resume. It also goes without saying (but, I’ll say it anyhow), with a great job fit, retention, productivity, engagement and profitability are also increased. The best part of this formula is that great culture soon follows. 

  • I believe AJ is right on target. Because PI's behavioral assessment is validated for use in the pre-hire process. Saving the recruiters time to only talk to behavioral fit candidates will increase the productivity of the recruiting process. Don't forget to use the Interview guides that prompt great behavioral interview questions.

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