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What is an Ability Assessment?

Erin Iafelice

Do Ability Assessments Deliver Hiring ROI?

There’s riveting news about ability assessments in Talent Board’s recently released 2020 Candidate Experience Research Report: Use of job simulation assessments is up 26% year over year, and candidates who experience job simulations had a 30% higher perception of fairness about the assessment process. What have industry-leading organizations discovered about the value of ability assessments for hiring outcomes and the candidate experience? 

Read on to find out.

What is an ability assessment?

Ability assessments offer recruiting teams an objective way of gathering data on candidates during the hiring process. Some ability assessments measure highly technical skills, such as second-language proficiency or computer coding. Behavioral assessments report on personality traits needed to succeed within an organization’s culture and a particular job. Cognitive ability assessments measure candidates’ skills, knowledge, aptitude, and interest to provide standardized data on whether a candidate is a good job fit.

Where do ability assessments fit in a hiring workflow?

With advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, ability assessments can be used efficiently near the hiring process’s front end. These ability assessments often take the form of job simulations, which deliver double the value: recruiting teams gain essential data that informs candidate selection, and candidates learn more about the role and the organization, which enables them to be more engaged in the hiring process and make better decisions about their next job. Many organizations use integrated ability assessments and video interviews to create a personal, information-rich hiring experience that’s fast and convenient for candidates.

Ability assessments can also be used post-hire to identify skills gaps in an organization’s workforce and guide upskilling strategies and planning. 

Are there risks to using ability assessments in hiring?

A common concern about using ability assessments in hiring is that it lengthens the hiring process to where higher-quality candidates choose to opt-out. Modern Hire research suggests that the opposite is true: The best applicants are also the ones most likely to complete the assessments. Several factors impact candidate drop-outs with ability assessments, including the device they are using for the assessment and the role’s salary level. To see the research findings on improving candidate completion rates, download the white paperApplicant Dropout: Completion Rate Drivers and Consequences.

Another concern with using ability assessments in hiring is the risk of bias. Ability assessments that are not science-based and tested for validity may introduce bias into the hiring process and create an adverse impact on a certain class of candidates. Not only is this illegal, but it also creates a hiring process that is unfair to candidates and prevents the organization from identifying and hiring the best talent.

Can ability assessments that are not customized for my organization deliver ROI?

The answer is yes. Ability assessments grounded in science and rigorously tested and validated can help recruiting teams improve hiring performance and business metrics such as new hire productivity and new hire retention. One advantage is that they are ready to implement, so recruiting teams can begin using the assessments almost immediately after deciding to do so. Modern Hire offers ready-to-implement ability assessments and strategic hiring plans for using them for more than 40 specific roles in healthcare, finance, retail, and industrial companies. 

Customized ability assessments can deliver higher ROI over the long term because they predict candidate performance for a specific organization’s specific role. The pre-employment assessment is customized using data from a continuous feedback loop that indicates what successful performance in the role looks like in the organization. Walmart is one organization using customized assessments to make hundreds of thousands of great hires quickly and cost-effectively. Read how Walmart is doing it.

How do I choose an ability assessment vendor?

With the acceleration of AI integration in technologies and the potential risk for introducing bias into hiring with ability assessments, one of the most important criteria for evaluating assessment vendors is transparency. Assessment providers you review should describe in plain language the data collected and used, the approach to measuring job fit, and validation that the assessment is indeed measuring what it purports to measure. 

Another critical aspect to explore is the vendor’s ethical position on AI. Look for vendors that only use information that candidates knowingly provide to the hiring organization. It discloses to candidates how their data is being evaluated and used in plain language. Ground-breaking research into candidates’ attitudes toward AI in hiring found that candidates who received thorough explanations of how AI would and would not be used were more likely to view AI as a fair, ethical, and bias-free evaluation approach vetting job candidates. This is an essential finding for recruiting teams using ability assessments to ensure they provide the best hiring experience possible for candidates.