Interviews and CVs have been standard parts of the job application process for years. However, as new technologies emerge, traditional hiring methods become obsolete. In today’s hiring landscape, managers turn to skill testing to evaluate a larger pool of candidates—selecting only the most qualified for the job.
Let’s explore why skill testing is the most effective way to attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market.
What is Skill Testing?
Simply put, skill testing refers to evaluating someone’s proficiency in a specific area or skill set through standardized tests, hands-on assessments, or simulations.
The Purpose of Skill Evaluation
Skill testing evaluates a candidate’s abilities, knowledge, and skills for a specific role. Skills-based hiring enables employers to make informed hiring decisions by understanding a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall suitability for the role before they start the job.
How Skill Testing Works
Skill testing presents the candidate with a series of questions or tasks that mimic the day-to-day tasks of the role they’re applying for. These tests assess the candidate’s current proficiency in a specific skill and potential for further development.
Skill testing can take many forms, including multiple choice questions, text, video, code, SQL, Sheets, and Excel, among other options, depending on the test.
Skill tests can also include cognitive ability and personality tests. Using a range of different question types equips the hiring manager with a holistic understanding of the candidate’s skills and knowledge. According to the recent Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research report, 82% of companies use some form of pre-employment assessment tests.
Types of skill testing
Skills tests are available in a range of formats, including:
- Cognitive ability tests – Assess intelligence, problem-solving, reasoning, and perception skills. These tests can provide insight into a candidate’s potential to perform in a specific role. Additionally, they can provide insight into their ability to adapt to various situations and learn new skills.
- Technical skills tests – Evaluate a candidate’s ability to perform a specific technical task or use a specific technology that’s essential for the job. These tests indicate to employers whether the candidate has the necessary technical skills to succeed.
- Behavioral skills tests – Assess behavioral competencies, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and adaptability. These tests evaluate soft skills, which helps hiring managers identify candidates who have the necessary soft skills to be the perfect fit for the role and company.
- Personality assessments – Evaluate a candidate’s personality traits, characteristics, and tendencies to understand how they align with the company’s culture and values. Hiring managers identify candidates with personality traits and working habits that align with the rest of the team or department to make sure the job is an ideal fit for both sides.
- Job simulation tests – Simulate real-life work scenarios to evaluate job-specific skills and abilities. These tests can take various forms, depending on the job requirements and skills being evaluated.
- Role-specific assessments – Evaluate skills, knowledge, and abilities for a particular role. The results of role-specific assessments help hiring managers identify candidates with the necessary skills for the role.
- Aptitude tests – Determine whether a candidate has the potential for learning and success in a particular role. These tests can include numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning and spatial and mechanical abilities.
- Language proficiency tests – Assess candidates’ abilities to speak, read, write, and understand a language. They’re often used for positions where language skills are a requirement or language proficiency is an advantage. For example, an international customer success manager, a regional marketer, and the like.
Work sample tests – An evaluation of a candidate’s ability to perform real-life work tasks is done through a work sample test. Technical skills, soft skills, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and other skills can all be assessed through these tests.
When is skill testing used in the hiring process?
Skill tests can be used at any stage throughout the hiring process; where it is placed in the hiring timeline will affect the tests’ result. Here’s more information about skills testing at each stage of the hiring process.
Skills evaluation as a screening tool
When used at the beginning of the hiring process, skills tests can act as a screening tool to quickly identify which candidates have the potential to be the right fit and which candidates don’t meet the basic requirements.
Skills tests can be sent to candidates individually or in bulk after applying for a job. At this stage, the tests are designed to assess a candidate’s basic knowledge.
Research conducted by Havard Business Review supports using these tests early on in the process: “Many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based psychometric tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.”
Using skills tests as a screening tool helps widen the candidate pool and increase the diversity of candidates who apply for the position. Screening candidates with skills tests at the beginning of the hiring process also ensures that companies don’t invest time or resources in candidates who are not the right fit for the role.
Skill tests at later stages of the hiring process
Skill tests can also be used at later stages of the hiring process when the candidate pool has been reduced to a smaller group of qualified candidates. At this stage, skills tests can be used to check for more specific skills, knowledge, or traits, with tests such as cognitive, personality, or culture fit tests.
Using skills tests after the initial screening process enables hiring managers to better understand a candidate’s strengths, cognitive abilities, and personality traits. This will ultimately strengthen their decision to make an offer or reject the candidate.
Skill testing vs. CVs: What’s the difference?
Although CVs and resumes have been an indispensable part of the recruitment process for a long time, more companies are moving away from the traditional method and utilizing skills testing instead. Skills tests are fundamentally different from CVs, as they allow hiring managers to evaluate a candidate’s job-specific skills and knowledge in a realistic work simulation or setting, whereas CVs just list education, work experience, and skills. Here are the key differences between skills tests and CVs:
Skill tests provide objective and reliable data about a candidate’s abilities and knowledge in a specific area. Skills tests are taken in a regulated and standardized environment, so the results are reliable indicators of skills. This ensures fairness and unbiasedness. On the other hand, CVs are subjective and rely on a candidate’s ability to articulate their skills on paper. This may not always be true or accurate. In addition, unconscious bias can play a role in hiring managers’ opinions of a candidate. This skews their ability to assess a candidate’s fit for the job objectively.
The National Bureau of Economic Research study demonstrates that racial discrimination is ongoing during the job application process.
Researchers sent over 80,000 fake job applications for entry-level openings to Fortune 500 companies and found that, on average, applications with distinctively Black names were roughly 10% less likely to get a call back than comparable applications with distinctively white names.
Having a diverse workforce and ensuring unfair biases don’t get in the way of reaching these goals is more critical than ever.
Better prediction of job performance
Skills testing allows employers to assess candidate abilities and success potential with objective data. However, CVs can be embellished or tailored to fit a job’s requirements – and hiring managers have no way of knowing whether the information on a candidate’s CV is genuine or not. Evidence suggests that many more applicants today—by some estimates, nearly 50%—embellish their CVs than did so in the past. As skills tests are data-based and benchmarked, hiring managers can make confident, data-driven hiring decisions.
Reduced hiring time
With skills tests, hiring managers can quickly filter out unqualified candidates in the screening process. They can continue only with candidates who demonstrate the skills necessary to perform the job effectively. Hiring managers can also identify top-performing candidates and fast-track them through recruitment. With CVs, neither of these options is available. Using skills tests can significantly reduce the time to hire compared to CVs.
Benefits of skills-based hiring
Skills testing is becoming a popular alternative to CV-centric hiring for a number of reasons. Here are some of the top benefits of skills testing:
- Benchmarking candidates against industry standards
Skills tests benchmark candidates against industry standards by comparing their performance to a predetermined standard. This benchmark provides a reference point for hiring managers to assess a candidate’s results against other candidates or as a minimum standard for performance.
- Reduced risk of bad hires
Skills tests improve the accuracy of the hiring process by providing a more objective and quantitative assessment of a candidate’s abilities and skills. This enables hiring managers to make data-driven, informed hiring decisions rather than intuition-based decisions, thus reducing the risk of moving forward with a candidate who is not the right fit.
A bad hire costs an average of $14,900. However, this number can vary wildly depending on the company and particular position. This cost comes from the employee’s salary, benefits, severance pay, the cost of recruiting and hiring a replacement, and the cost of lost production and reduced team morale due to the bad hire’s poor performance.
- Improved candidate experience
Skills tests improve a candidate’s experience in many ways. Skills tests allow candidates to demonstrate their skills in a tangible way rather than relying on self-reported skills on a CV. This makes the recruitment process more transparent and fair, as candidates from underrepresented groups may have a chance to showcase their skills in a way that might not be immediately obvious from their CV.
Skills tests also give candidates a better idea of what the job entails so they can be prepared and excited about the new role’s responsibilities. This creates a more satisfying hiring process and helps boost the employer’s brand. Studies show that a stronger employer brand correlates to lower hiring costs—and companies with a strong employer brand have a 28% lower turnover rate than companies with a weak employer brand.
- Bias-free and diverse hiring
Skills tests can make the hiring process more diverse and bias-free by focusing on objective measures of a candidate’s abilities rather than relying on subjective opinions or biases. Skills tests can help reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process by evaluating candidates based on their actual skills and abilities instead of their demographic background or personal characteristics.
These tests reduce hiring costs and increase efficiency in several ways. They help employers screen out unqualified candidates early in the hiring process, reducing the number of candidates to interview. This saves time and resources for both the employer and the candidates.
Employers can make more informed hiring decisions by evaluating a candidate’s skills and abilities in a standardized and objective way. This leads to a higher likelihood of success and reduced turnover.
Creating and using skills tests in your hiring process
Making and implementing tests for hiring may seem daunting, but it is quite simple and fast. When using skills tests in your hiring process, we have some steps to follow:
Clearly define the role and skills
When hiring the right candidate, start by defining the job role and the necessary skills. This includes technical skills, like programming or marketing expertise, and soft skills, like teamwork and communication. Identifying the preferred personality traits and work style for the role and team helps in selecting the ideal candidate for the job.
Choose a reputable skill evaluation platform
When selecting a skills testing platform, companies should look for a platform with valid and reliable skills tests, positive customer reviews, and integration capability with an ATS. Canditech is an industry leader with skills tests designed and evaluated by experts. Its suite of features allows businesses of all sizes to make fair and confident hiring decisions. Employers can evaluate candidates unbiasedly and objectively by utilizing Canditech’s pre-designed or customizable job simulations.
Choose a skills test template and questions
Due to the nature of skills tests, which aim to replicate tasks performed in a specific role, a wide variety of question types are available to recreate simulated work environments.
Canditech’s question types include text, video, multiple choice, Sheets, Excel, code, and SQL. Assessment tests for hiring can be made from any suitable combination of question types, including job-specific skills, cognitive ability, and personality trait assessments.
Continuously evaluate and improve skills tests
Regularly assessing and improving skills tests is crucial to ensure they accurately measure the necessary skills for the job. Skills tests must stay relevant and current with evolving job requirements and industry standards.
One way to identify areas for improvement is by asking for feedback from candidates and hiring managers who have used the tests. This feedback ensures that the skills tests are valid and helpful for both parties involved.
Furthermore, periodically evaluating the impact of skills tests on key metrics such as time to hire, diversity and inclusion, and candidate satisfaction can provide insights on how to adjust assessment tests for optimal results.
Tips for creating successful skills tests
Now that the basics have been covered for creating skills tests, here are some tips to ensure that your skills tests are efficient and productive.
Create realistic and engaging skill evaluation tests
It’s crucial to develop skills tests that are realistic and relevant to the role. This maintains candidates’ interest and engagement throughout the hiring process and ensures that they’re assessed objectively and efficiently.
Promote fair and diverse hiring practices
If implemented correctly, skills tests can significantly reduce bias and promote diversity in hiring. To ensure skills tests are objective and impartial, consider using blind evaluations that remove identifying information about candidates. In addition, incorporate a variety of scenarios that reflect potential candidates’ diversity. It is also imperative to continually analyze, evaluate, and improve the skills testing process as needed.
Test different types of knowledge with multiple question types
Incorporating various question types into skills tests enables hiring managers to assess different types of knowledge and skills. For example, multiple-choice questions can evaluate knowledge retention, while open-ended questions can assess critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Hiring managers can understand each candidate’s capabilities by including diverse question types in skills tests.
Add video questions
To help candidates feel more comfortable answering video questions, including them at the end of the skills test is recommended. This way, candidates have some time to familiarize themselves with the test format and build confidence before responding to the camera.
Using skills testing in combination with other assessment methods
While skills tests are a valuable and insightful part of the hiring process, they are most effective when used in conjunction with other assessment methods. Combining skills tests with personality, culture fit, and communication skills assessments can provide hiring managers with a holistic view of the candidate. Using multiple testing methods also reduces bias potential and increases the validity and reliability of the hiring process.
Here are some tips on how to use skills testing in combination with other assessment methods:
Combine skills testing with behavioral interviews
Behavioral interviews can help assess a candidate’s past experiences and how they would handle similar situations in the future. When used in combination with skills testing, this can provide a more complete picture of a candidate’s abilities and potential.
Use skills testing with personality assessments
Personality assessments provide insights into a candidate’s motivations, values, and work style. When used in combination with skills testing, this can provide a more complete understanding of how a candidate fits into an organization’s culture and work environment.
Incorporate skills testing into a multi-stage assessment process
Consider using skills testing as one part of a multi-stage assessment process that includes other methods such as behavioral interviews, reference checks, and work sample tests. This helps provide a more well-rounded assessment of a candidate’s abilities and potential.
The future of skills testing in hiring
As remote work gains more traction, companies must adopt flexible hiring processes to keep up with candidates’ demands. Additionally, data-driven and AI-powered hiring practices are increasingly common in many organizations. Here are some additional trends that will influence skills-based hiring assessments’ growing popularity:
Increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are guaranteed to increase in the future. This will enable automation of many aspects of the skills testing process, including grading and analysis. Canditech ranks and grades candidates based on their test results, so hiring managers only have to check the results to choose the most qualified candidate.
Greater focus on soft skills
As the future demands more emphasis on soft skills such as communication and collaboration, skills testing is expected to place more importance on assessing these abilities alongside technical expertise. Canditech offers skills tests for technical and soft skills and recommends that hiring managers incorporate both technical and soft skill testing into their assessment tests for hiring.
Use of gamified assessments
Gamified assessments, which use game-like elements to test a candidate’s skills, will presumably become more common in the future as gamification benefits become more prevalent. This approach can make the testing process more engaging and entertaining for candidates while still providing valuable information about their abilities.
Remote and online skills testing
Covid-19 sparked a surge in remote work across various industries. This trend is expected to persist in the future as more businesses acknowledge remote work’s advantages. Simultaneously, hiring managers are looking for more efficient ways to evaluate unphysically present candidates. Skills testing is a convenient and effective solution for remote hiring, as it offers a practical way to assess a candidate’s qualifications without the need for in-person interviews or assessments.
Skills testing is an efficient and effective alternative to traditional hiring methods. By incorporating skills testing into the hiring process, companies can reduce hiring costs, increase efficiency, and improve the overall candidate experience. Skills testing platforms such as Canditech make creating and implementing skills tests in existing hiring processes simple in a few minutes. Sign up to Canditech today to start using skills tests in your hiring process.