Assessment is becoming an essential part of a bigger picture. This is a good thing, because assessment should not be viewed as a static, transactional event but rather as one component of a broader process designed to improve decision-making.
With that in mind, here’s a quick summary of the major trends we should be keeping an eye on:
- Industry consolidation continues. This trend is showing no sign of slowing down. This is a direct indicator that assessment is being seen as a component that can help deliver additional value from the hiring process. This, more than any other trend, tells me that the value proposition of assessment is finally being given its due. A huge part of this is the recruitment process outsourcing market and the interest in creating hiring processes as opposed to a disjointed series of events that put a warm butt in a seat.
- Competencies are king. An increasing number of companies are moving away from the “test-centric” mentality on which the assessment industry was founded. Instead, they’re having the ability to create assessment content that can be quickly changed based on the requirements of a specific job, as opposed to a test with content that is the same no matter what job it is used for. This is done by having blocks of assessment content that are aligned with certain competencies. Then, all you do is identify the key competencies associated with a job, and assessments that represent these competencies can be quickly created through the admin interface of the technology platform used to deliver the assessment. This movement also has the advantage of creating a foundation that can be used to tie employee development activities into the hiring process. Smart stuff.
- Products created for the mid- and small markets. While firms of all sizes use traditional assessments, for years the focus in the technology-based assessment market has been on creating systems to support enterprise-wide hiring within big companies. We are finally seeing an investment in products that are focused on providing value for smaller companies that are also interested in creating processes as opposed to throwing tests at people. There is still substantial money to be gained via this strategy.
- Business intelligence starting to become a factor. We’re seeing a nice and needed movement away from the traditional test-based ideas associated with the old school when it comes to evaluating effectiveness of hiring processes. The old ways focus on validating a specific test to demonstrate the ROI it can provide. While this is an important thing to do on many levels, we are finally starting to see a broader focus that asks the question, “How effective is my hiring process?”
- Steps toward clarity on defining a job applicant. We are finally getting some believable and meaningful information from the OFCCP and EEOC regarding what it means to be a job applicant. This is great news for all of us. The funny thing is that this information means we are all on the hook to be more thorough about understanding job requirements. This is doing everyone a favor as this should be the foundation of all hiring processes anyway. How can you hire the right person if you aren’t making hiring decisions that involve an understanding of what it actually takes to do the job? The major issue remaining here is the subjectivity around what can be considered a “minimum qualification” and the effort that will be required of companies to document minimum qualifications for each and every job.
- Assessments starting to be included in the job-search process. An increasing number of companies are starting to take the steps required to increase the ability of job boards and career portals to actually match candidates with jobs for which they are best suited. This is being done by including some form of assessment as a key ingredient in the matching algorithm. There are many potential ways to execute the idea, all of which represent an upgrade from the keyword-search process.
Things Still Holding Us Back
There remain challenges that people in our industry are still working to overcome, and while there are many things we have yet to learn, below are a few of the frustrations I have experienced over the past year.
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While none of these things are new, overcoming them will allow the modern hiring process to evolve in the right direction:
- Internal silos impeding progress. Creating a hiring process requires input from all of the key areas involved. I am consistently frustrated by the fact that different key parts of the hiring process are owned by different functional areas and that there is often little communication between these areas. This is especially true of key purchasing decisions. Proper hiring requires a process that is built on input from all key stakeholders.
- Failure to properly evaluate outcomes. Ideally, when implementing a hiring process, key outcomes and related metrics should be identified. Pathways for collecting these metrics should be created as part of implementation process. This simply isn’t being done. The unfortunate part of this is that there is no way to build a solid business case for the value of the hiring process without this type of data.
- Radio buttons still rule. While the administrative aspects of assessments have experienced quantum leaps over the past decade, the actual content of assessments is still basically the same as it has been since the turn of the century. Of course we have been able to collect an increasing amount of data about what types of content work best in what situations, but at the end of the day the candidate experience is still just plain yucky. We need to challenge ourselves to think of more interactive and engaging ways of collecting data from applicants. Addressing this issue will represent the next quantum leap in hiring.
- Personality testing still seen as the “it” type of testing. I’m a strong believer in the value of personality tests. However, they are not a panacea for all hiring problems and they must be used properly to delivery any sort of value. We need to learn the limitations and advantages of these tests and implement them accordingly. Anyone making the results of a personality assessment the core component of the hiring process is selling themselves short.
Hopefully another year of hard work and learning will help us begin to better understand how to address the above issues. The past year has been an unbelievably positive one in terms of progress and understanding. I am thrilled to see an increasing number of great products being offered, and the sophistication of hiring processes has been steadily increasing.
We are well on our way to gaining new levels of understanding about how to effectively and efficiently match people with jobs. The really cool thing about this is that it actually does have benefits to all parties involved. When people love their jobs, it seriously can help make the world a better place to be.