Using employment assessments to hire in a tight labour market

Written by Amber Thomas, Consultant
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

This article on how to create an assessment process that works for our current tight labour market was originally published in June 2018. All relevant content has been updated as of September 2021.

The job market in a post-Covid world is gearing up to be tight and fierce. Recruiters are desperate for top talent, but a lack of available and qualified talent means hiring managers struggle with finding the kind of employee their organisation needs to grow. In a tight labour market, it’s tempting to make rash decisions about your selection process. As a result, we often hear variations of different arguments that essentially boil down to:

  • “Not many people are applying to our jobs. We can’t afford to turn any applicants away.”
  • “We desperately need more candidates quickly. What steps should we take out of our recruitment process?”
  • “Candidates can get a job anywhere. Our recruitment process is too long and complicated to encourage people to apply here.”

We’ve compiled some considerations below that we talk through with our clients to navigate this tough market.

The Added Value Of Using Assessments In Your Selection Process

As the labour market becomes more competitive, people start asking if assessments are even worth the time. It’s a candidate’s market, after all, and shouldn’t you just be happy to get anyone at all? Maybe the clever move is to cut out assessment testing entirely or choose a shorter test to encourage more applicants.

This is often a knee-jerk reaction to a few common pain points (e.g., low applicant volume, high fail rates, real or perceived long time-to-fill metrics, and concerns over completion rates). If this situation feels familiar, consider the following points before making your decision.

  • Removing an assessment from your recruitment process reduces the amount of objective information you have about applicants. You will probably still want to hire a good employee that fits well within your culture. Assessments help you to make more informed recruitment decisions.
  • Insights show that candidates don’t mind assessments. Often, they appreciate this as an opportunity to prove their worth and qualifications for the role.
  • Regardless of test length, most candidates react positively when asked to complete an evaluation. Additionally, most candidates will finish an assessment once they’ve started regardless of length.

Communication Between HR and Operations

Often, low candidate volume can cause operation managers to wonder what the hold-up is. Sometimes, they even begin to question the usefulness and legitimacy of employment assessments. This, in turn, puts pressure on HR to provide more and more candidates for consideration. Therefore, it is critical to have ongoing communication with your leadership and operations teams so everyone is on the same page about the labour market.

Here are a few things you and your team need to talk about:

  • How is the process going? This is an important question to ask at any time, but even more so in a competitive labour market. Which new employees are performing well and which are struggling? Which candidates did well in the interview and which ones struggled? Be sure to discuss what criteria are being used in CV reviews, interviews and assessment of training success.
  • How are you working to bring in candidates and move them through the entire recruitment process efficiently? It may seem obvious, but make sure to advertise to other departments what you’re doing from an attraction, selection, and retention standpoint. Highlight the processes that are working, what you know needs to be improved, and how recruitment managers can help make the process better. If they don’t understand what you’re doing, they’ll assume the current recruitment struggles are specific to their department, your organisation, or their industry. While this may be true in some cases, there really is a labour shortage that you’re struggling against, too.
  • What are the upcoming recruitment needs? Operations managers often have vital information about recruitment needs. They’ve scheduled work months in advance and know when there will be an uptick (or down-tick) in staffing needs. Take time to discuss with them so that you can plan ahead for potential trends.

Finally, it’s crucial to remain flexible for the current market. As needs and talent markets vary and change, adapting to the changes will help you maintain a consistent and strong recruiting strategy. Maybe a temporary change to your selection process is the right answer for you, but it is essential to consider the effects of changing your usual strategy. At PSI, we strive to offer the best advice and assessments to help you attract, recruit, and recruit the right talent for your needs. Contact our team of experts and to learn more about our Talent Management capabilities.

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Finding good talent is a struggle. The intense, worldwide competition for the right talent calls for organisations to design better, frictionless hiring processes.

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