When it comes to hiring with assessments, are you ahead of the curve?

Does your competition assess candidates differently than you do? Find out in the latest 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report blog series.

What do you do when you have several incredible candidates vying for the same position? There are many interview strategies and styles out there but when it comes down to making a decision between people who all seem equally qualified, how do you decide? Some say it’s all about gut instinct but when examined, it turns out that tactic can actually lead to bad hiring decisions. So what’s a hiring manager to do?

This year, McQuaig went out to collect data from 500 talent professionals from around the world on 16 topics related to talent management. One area of focus was on who uses talent assessments and screening tactics as part of their hiring best practices. In this last addition to our 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report blog series we want to dive into this specific area of talent management and examine what others in the field are already doing.

In case you’ve missed our previous blogs, participating companies were sorted into three tiers based on their responses. High performer companies reported that it’s easier to fill open positions than the year before. Moderate performers saw no change in ease of hiring, and low performers had more trouble filling an open role than they did a year ago.

What lessons can we learn about using assessments and screening strategies?

Personality/Behaviour/Psychometric Assessments

We’ve all taken a personality test at some point in our lives but have you taken one during an interview? The goal of using these types of assessments is less about measuring intelligence and more about uncovering how a candidate might behave in a role. They are particularly useful when you have several qualified candidates because not only do they provide a more comprehensive view of an individual, test responses can help inform what interview questions to ask. Depending on a candidate’s results, you can tailor your interview to examine risk factors, areas of strength or weakness, behaviour or personality factors that might not align with the profile of the role, and insights into past behaviour to help predict future performance.

Now let’s take it into the real world. What percentage of companies polled make use of these type of assessments?

High performers: 92%

Moderate performers: 71%

Low performers: 71%

Verdict: High performers are far more likely to make use of personality or behaviour assessments than their peers but all tiers appear to leverage this tactic to some extent.  


Cognitive Assessments

Get ready for intelligence testing! Cognitive assessments can be used to help determine a candidate’s capacity to learn. These tests often use math, literacy, or logic based questions designed to identify someone’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Using these sorts of intelligence tests can help shine a light on how a candidate might approach problems in their new role and their capacity to handle the responsibilities they’ll be faced with.

How many companies report using this type of assessment in their interview process?

High performers: 46%

Moderate performers: 26%

Low performers: 27%

Verdict: High performers are more likely to utilize cognitive assessments than their peers but across the board this strategy seems to be used less often than the personality/behaviour/psychometric assessment types.

 Pro-Tip: Not sure how to get started using assessments? Try right here!

In-Person Skill Testing

One way to get a sense of a person’s capabilities is to give them a skills based task to accomplish during an interview. Common examples can include copy editing or basic excel tests, solving a coding problem, reading a business case and presenting recommendations, or interpreting a financial document among many other options. These in-person tests allow an interviewer to see how a candidate approaches problem solving in real time and assess whether their skill set matches what a company needs.

Which companies are more likely to opt for this type of interview testing?

High performers: 46%

Moderate performers: 54%

Low performers: 48%

Verdict: Moderate performers lead the pack in this area and are most likely to make use of in-person assignments.


Homework Assignments

Similar to in-person tasks, these assignments are designed to gauge the quality of work a candidate is capable of producing prior to being hired. These tests tend to be more time consuming than in-person assignments, giving the candidate a better chance to show themselves off to the best of their abilities. Common tasks include mocking up a fake ad, solving a broken spreadsheet, or writing a plan or piece of content among others.

How many companies make use of this sort of assessment?

High performers: 7%

Moderate performers: 14%

Low performers: 11%

Verdict: While moderate performers edge out their competition in this area, no tier of company makes use of homework tasks very often.


Questions Upon Application

The application process itself can also be utilized to collect additional information about a candidate. This usually takes on a survey format prior to the application being finalized. Sometimes this only includes optional demographic information and other times it can be more directly tied to a company or search campaign.

Who adds these extra questions to their application process?

High performers: 77%

Moderate performers: 87%

Low performers: 82%

Verdict: Moderate performers once again take the win when it comes to application questions but all three groups make use of this approach in different ways.

Read more: Pre-screening can help improve your interview performance as well

What are the takeaways?

There are many ways to gather extra information about candidates over the course of their engagement with you. Whether that happens at the start of an application, during the interview process, or after the candidate walks out of the room, there are several opportunities to mine the information you need to make the right hiring decision. However, different types of companies use different approaches to assessment and screening techniques. If your goal is to follow in the footsteps of the high performer companies, then cognitive or personality/behaviour/psychometric assessments are the way to go. Adding testing into your interview, or requiring it to be completed prior to an interview, helps hiring managers be more specific and targeted in their interviews questions. And don’t forget to throw a few questions into your application process as well. The more information you have, the better supported your decision will be.


Are you interested in seeing the results of all 16 talent management areas assessed? You can download your free copy of the 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report below:

18Q4-Talent button1


Don’t miss the other posts in this blog series. Find the first blogs here:

1. 5 insights from the 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report

2. When it comes to talent management, what do high performing companies do well?

3. Surprise! Did you know about these 5 talent trends?


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