Using Skills Assessment to ensure Technical Competence

The primary hidden expense factor impacting most significantly on your bottom line is hiring the wrong employee. This video by Drake International offers an excellent calculation in determining the costs of “hiring wrong”. (Drake International, Video)

In general, these hiring mistakes happen because a candidate’s technical competence or skills set is accepted at “face value” (what it seems) instead of “par value” (what it is).

  • The typing speed stated on a CV as 90 wpm often unexpectedly drops to 60 wpm when your newly appointed secretary has to type up several documents during her inaugural first week of employment (and no it’s not your word processor that is the problem).
  • Were you ever confused about the grammar errors prevalent in the recently hired sales Millennial’s email correspondence to clients when the CV presented during application was grammatically immaculate?
  • How about the coding guy who chose “expert level” on his application form next to C#, Java and Python, whom all of a sudden proves to be a complete rookie in practice?

Why use Skills Assessments?

Accurately gauging the technical competence/skills set of a candidate is just as important as testing cognitive ability, personality traits and emotional intelligence. High scores on IQ, EQ and AQ means nothing without the relevant ability to do the job. Let’s call it JobQ.

“The test-first approach makes sense for several reasons. Evidence suggests that many more applicants today—by some estimates,nearly 50%—embellish their CVs, reducing the utility of résumés as initial screening tools.” (Harvard Business Review, Article)

  • Skills assessments measure the actual (provable) competence of prospective candidates which can be categorised as either hard skills (e.g. Microsoft Office, Python) or soft skills (e.g. attention to detail, memory retention)
  • The data rendered by these assessments verify and normalise candidate informationby diminishing human error; therefore, a more levelled playing field is created for all applicants forming part of the recruitment process.
  • Apart from qualifying and discarding candidates, the analytics, results and predictive data sets have proven to correctly forecast longevity of employees work tenure. Super cool to have a crystal ball predictor (made up of real quantifiable information) showing you whether a candidate will stay for the long haul! A study by the University of Toronto showed that candidates hired based on algorithmic recommendations lasted 15% longer at companies than those employed without being subjected to testing and assessments.

Skills assessments may take many forms from simple typing and spelling tests for clerical aptitudes to complex gamification tools assessing coding abilities. The primary focus should always be to evaluate a candidate’s ability to complete the tasks required in the position by means of conducting scientifically created tests.

The Roadmap to Skills Assessment Value

To benefit from the value offered by skills assessments, there needs to be a roadmapincorporating specific steps, each based on the information gained from the preceding stage. You can’t measure what you don’t know, correct?

  • Step 1- Define the technical elements required for the position, split between soft skills and hard skills and how these will influence job performance
  • Step 2- Choose the optimal assessment to measure these abilities either by constructing your customised tools or using test batteries from a third party
  • Step 3- Collect and extrapolate data from test results for scoring and ranking purposes
  • Step 4- Empower decision makers to utilise the information as part of their recruitment process to identify the most suitable candidate
  • Step 5- Revisit and evaluate data at predetermined time frames to evaluate the success of the hiring decision against variables such as talent retention, individual job performance, employee development and worker engagement

Accuracy Breeds Validity

Utilising skills assessment as a pre-employment tool effectively provides you with a second set of eyes, free from bias and prejudice. Statistics have shown that recruiter and manager bias is a primary cause of incorrect hiring decisions. Perhaps it’s time we trust the “bot” instead of our gut to accurately assess the validity of a candidate’s JobQ.