15th November 2021
Recruiting employers have a dilemma at the moment. They want to make sure that the candidate they end up offering their role to is a good fit and has the necessary skills. To make that judgement, they need enough information to make a sound decision.
But on the other hand, job seekers have many opportunities to choose from in this highly candidate led market. Employers won’t want to do anything that makes the process longer than it needs to be or puts an applicant off. So, it’s understandable if some of them are wondering whether it would be better to remove skills testing from the selection process. But this could turn out to be a real own goal.
It’s always been important to make sure the candidate experience is as positive as possible. A badly designed test, or one that doesn’t seem to be connected to the role in question, is likely to be off-putting no matter whether the recruitment market is candidate or employer-led. Skills testing has always needed to be carefully thought through to make sure it’s relevant for the role and makes a valuable contribution to the process. If recruiting employers are choosing appropriate tests that provide valuable insights into job-relevant skills and thinking through the timing of them within the process, there’s a really strong case for continuing to include them.
A carefully chosen skills test that’s used at the most appropriate point in the recruitment process has the potential to improve the candidate experience. It’s important to engage job seekers straight away once they’ve submitted their application. One option is to use the skills test as soon as the application’s received, to begin building that two-way engagement quickly. That’s especially useful if you aren’t in a position to start interviewing immediately.
Or depending on your process, it could be more effective to introduce the testing after the first-stage interview has been completed. That way you’ll build up engagement through conversation first. And then you can maintain momentum by following up with the skills testing.
Candidates need to understand why skills testing is being used and how the information those tests provide relates to the role. If they’re clear about the reasons why they’re being asked to complete the tests, and how the data will be used to make recruitment decisions, it helps to show that you’re committed to a fair process. Skills testing is an objective way to assess abilities in a specific area, and they give every candidate the same opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
The information that skills testing provides is important for understanding what a candidate’s capable of in terms of the role you’re recruiting for. But its value can go beyond that. It can also form the basis of a future development plan for the individual as well as feed into business planning processes around future flexibility. It provides a helpful baseline for upskilling, which is vital for expanding capability, improving efficiency and performance, and building a happy, satisfied team.
You might be concerned that having a skills test stage in the recruitment process will slow things down, but it can have the opposite effect, particularly if you’re hiring at scale. If you need to find a large number of people to fill roles, skills testing can be a quick and effective pre-screening tool that helps you quickly identify suitable candidates and create a shortlist, rather than having to wade through a large number of interviews early on.
While employers are feeling the pressure when it comes to filling vacancies at the moment, it’s simply not worth skimping on stages in the recruitment process. Because longer term, it might end up creating more problems. Skills testing is designed to provide valuable data that helps make sure the people you recruit have the right skills for the position. Not using tests could mean you’re losing a valuable source of information about candidates – and that could backfire and lead to a costly mistake with a poor hiring decision.