Using employment assessments to hire in a tight labor 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 labor 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 organization needs to grow. In a tight labor 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 hiring process?”
  • “Candidates can get a job anywhere. Our hiring 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 labor market becomes more competitive, people start asking if hiring 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 smarter 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 like it applies to you, consider the following points before making your decision.

  • Removing an assessment from your hiring process reduces the amount of objective information you have about applicants. Chances are, you still want to hire a good employee that fits well within your culture. Assessments help you to make more informed hiring 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 labor 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 labor 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 touch base on what criteria are being used in resume reviews, interviews, and assessing training success.
  • How are you working to bring in candidates and move them through the entire hiring 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 hiring managers can help make the process better. If they don’t understand what you’re doing, they’ll assume the current hiring struggles are specific to their department, your organization, or their industry. While this may be true in some cases, there truly is a labor shortage that you’re struggling against, too.
  • What are the upcoming hiring needs? Often operations managers have vital information about hiring 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 talent assessment tools to help you attract, recruit, and hire the right talent for your needs. Reach out to our team of experts and to learn more about our Talent Management capabilities.

Improve hiring efficiency, effectiveness, and the candidate experience

A practical advice guide for 2022 and beyond

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

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