Making the Right Choice: Are Candidate Assessments a Friend or Foe?

Making the Right Choice: Are Candidate Assessments a Friend or Foe?
Author: Jamie Wells

In the ever-evolving recruitment landscape, companies continually seek innovative methods to assess candidates beyond the traditional resume and interview process. In a perfect world, recruiting would be boiled down to an exact science with a fancy algorithm matching the exact skills, experience, and personality to fit the role you’re hiring for. But humans are unique, ever-evolving, and highly susceptible to the outside influences we call “life.” So, how do we get as close to science as possible while still allowing room for the art of recruiting?

Utilizing Personality or Skills Assessments

Assessments can be a great addition to your recruiting efforts if used as part of a holistic approach to qualifying candidates. There are a plethora of assessments ready to help you identify the skills, core values, and personality of your next hire. By utilizing an assessment, you can minimize the interviewer’s unconscious bias, use the same process to evaluate each candidate, and efficiently qualify the skills needed for the role.

At Portfolio Creative, we utilize two assessment tools for our internal hiring process: Color Code and CliftonStrengths®.

  • Color Code is less about personality and more about your core motivations and behavior. We find it extremely helpful to understand each other’s communication styles and how to best work together as a team.
  • Gallup CliftonStrengths highlights strengths and limitations to identify who might be the go-to person for certain tasks and how they will approach their work.

Most importantly, neither of these assessments rule out whether someone is or is not a fit for a particular job. Instead, we aim to create a more inclusive and collaborative work environment by understanding how each individual fits into our team.

Drawbacks of Hiring Assessments

While many of these hiring assessments are available, we always caution our clients that relying heavily on these assessments has drawbacks. Especially when used pre-hire to evaluate or screen out candidates.

  • The efficacy of these assessments in predicting job performance is a subject of debate. Critics argue that such assessments may oversimplify individuals’ complex personalities and fail to capture the full spectrum of their capabilities.
  • Finding a new job or career is considered one of the most stressful life events we experience. Candidates may feel elevated pressure around taking a “test” and try to answer how they think you want them to respond, skewing results.
  • Not all assessments are inclusive. Be sure you thoroughly research any assessments you use to ensure they account for neurodiversity, cultural sensitivity, and consideration of diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Requesting Test Projects

Administering a sample project related to the role can help you understand how the candidate might perform in it, especially for a creative position where style and tone are so important.

For example, a writer or copy editor might perform a sample prompt to identify their writing style or attention to detail. A graphic designer might perform a design exercise to showcase their aesthetic, composition, and layout skills. Using test projects can evaluate problem-solving tactics and showcase capabilities in a tangible way.

While test projects can provide valuable insights into candidates’ competencies, there are concerns regarding the time and effort required from candidates, especially if combined with multiple, lengthy interviews. The candidate market moves fast, and you could miss out on great talent if your process takes months to complete.

There is also the question of compensating someone for their time and intellectual property. As a best business practice, we recommend that all sample projects take less than an hour to complete. If your sample test takes longer than an hour to complete, or if the final product might be considered for use as a company asset, you absolutely should compensate the candidate for their time.

Deciding Whether to Use Candidate Assessments

Pre-employment tests such as an assessment or sample project can offer a valuable understanding of candidates’ suitability for a role. But employers must consider their use thoughtfully, striving to strike a balance between gaining meaningful insights while respecting candidates’ time. It’s crucial to supplement these methods with other indicators of potential, such as past work experience and references, and not allow them to be the ‘make or break’ to your final decision.

Remember, a candidate’s experience of your interview process can and will travel further than the interview room. Protect your company’s brand and reputation by ensuring every candidate has a positive experience, even if they don’t end up on your team. Good people know good people – and they all compare notes.