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Great expectations: entering a new world of assessment

The assessment industry is evolving at a faster pace than ever before. Howard Grosvenor of cut-e summarises some of the developments recruitment professionals can look forward to and provides an outline of key changes in technology and terminology.

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Today’s psychometric assessments are designed to differentiate an employer’s brand, provide an engaging candidate experience, improve the efficiency of the selection process and, most importantly, provide robust and objective data about which candidates have the capability, the potential and the ‘values fit’ to succeed in an organisation.

The very nature of psychometric testing has changed significantly over the past five years. Assessment used to be seen as an expensive way to help organisations manage the risk of making a bad hire. Tests would be used near the end of the recruitment process. Now, shorter, more customised, brand-relevant tests and video-based assessments are used earlier in the process to help identify, attract and select the right people.

More employers are now using Realistic Job Previews and Situational Judgement Questionnaires to give prospective candidates an insight into the role and the organisation before they apply. Pre-application screening has significant benefits both for employers and jobseekers, as it helps organisations find the right people and it stops browsers from applying for jobs that aren’t suitable for them.

The latest assessments now provide a much deeper understanding of a candidate and a more accurate prediction of their behaviour. New areas can be assessed such as creativity, empathy and integrity. Pre-application interactive job previews, as well as development and ‘career-choice’ assessments, can help candidates to better understand their strengths and choose the right career path.

Assessment data can also be integrated and combined with existing talent and performance data to create predictive talent analytics. These insights help recruiters and HR teams to more consistently recruit top performers, enhance employee engagement, improve retention, aid succession planning and generally make better talent decisions. This ability to add value by creating actionable insights from employee data can also enhance the careers of those who instigate these initiatives.

What developments are on the horizon?

The drive to mobile assessment or ‘convenience testing’ will continue, as employers look for new and better ways to identify talent and predict future behaviour. For example, at cut-e, our latest assessment is an instant messaging simulation game which provides a context-rich assessment of a candidate’s judgement, strengths, personality and abilities, in the style of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Called chatAssess, it’s a 6-15 minute customisable assessment, which can be tailored to suit any role, and it is designed to be both realistic and engaging for candidates. People feel comfortable taking this type of assessment because it replicates an increasingly common medium that they use to interact with each other. It accurately measures how an individual will respond in real scenarios.

The ‘psychometric fingerprint’ is another interesting development. A vast number of data points are now available in assessments and in addition to measuring the candidate’s overall performance, this data reveals ‘how’ a candidate completes an assessment, such as their response time, how often they correct themselves and even whether they fiddle with the mouse or move their tablet while they’re thinking. This means that each individual candidate leaves their own psychometric fingerprint when they take a test. Harvesting this information can help you to prevent cheating in assessments and spot those who have the greatest potential.

We are also noticing that employers increasingly want to use assessment data to give each candidate insights about themselves that they didn’t already know. In this way, organisations can enhance the candidate experience and reward individuals for the time they spend completing assessments and applications. This trend will continue.


There is some confusion in the market about gamification, as games, gamified assessments and game-based assessments are actually three different things: interactive games are primarily used for pre-application attraction; gamified assessments are proven psychometric instruments which have been customised with game elements to make them more engaging; game-based assessments are purpose-built or customisable games which psychometrically assess the user’s behaviour while they ‘play’ the game. Each of these has specific pros and cons.

Games are a good option for attracting applicants or if you want to create a viral marketing tool. If you’re looking to assess candidates, then gamified assessments or game-based assessments can provide a viable, complementary solution along with other assessments to engage and motivate candidates; differentiate your organisation; promote a modern and attractive employer brand; reduce the drop-out rate amongst candidates and help you to identify and select the right people.

The scores of gamified assessments and game-based assessments can also be seamlessly integrated with your organisation’s employee and performance data to create useful talent analytics. Remember, games and gamification are not the only way forward. A body of research is being compiled about how these assessments compare to proven assessments - and where they do or don’t add value. It will be interesting to see how this research develops, as new hybrid forms of assessment may emerge as a result.

The drive for distinction

There is an increasing demand for assessments that are more distinctive, more engaging and more realistic than ever before. This is triggering innovations in the assessment industry, such as the use of virtual reality and augmented reality simulations. These will first change the way we assess people in supervised settings and, as the technology becomes more widespread, how we assess people in unsupervised settings. Care is needed when designing these assessments as there’s a danger of becoming so preoccupied by the virtual possibilities, you lose sight of what you’re trying to measure.

Standards and governance are increasingly important against this backdrop. Faced with the plethora of assessment options - and the new possibilities of data-driven decision making - recruiters will need to become better at judging good tests from bad ones. They’ll have to look closer at the science behind each test and the evidence that it will actually measure what it’s supposed to measure.

Candidates will soon take ownership of their own assessment data, which they’ll use to enhance their profile and showcase their expertise in a gig economy (where employers contract independent workers for short-term projects). At cut-e, we’re already developing a model that will help candidates use their personal data in this way.

In the future, the ‘how’ of psychometric testing may change but the ‘why’ is likely to persist. New developments will always be introduced but fundamentally three things will always be true. Psychometrics will improve the quality of the people you hire; they’ll make your recruitment process more efficient, objective and fair, and the candidate experience will be engaging.

Howard Grosvenor is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and Director of Professional Services for international assessment specialist cut-e. He can be contacted via howard.grosvenor@cut-e.com