Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Lengthy Assessments only Put-Off the Lowest Performers

Candidate attrition is the bane of HR professionals worldwide.

Nothing is more frustrating than losing high-potential candidates, especially after investing significant time and effort into attracting them. Therefore, it’s no surprise that HR professionals can be apprehensive about adding online assessments to their selection processes.

That being said, the benefits of online assessments are numerous. Ability tests, personality questionnaires, and situational judgment tests predict real-world workplace performance and rank among the most powerful tools available in recruitment (McDaniel, Hartman, Whetzel & Grubb, 2007; Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). These assessments offer valuable insights into candidates' abilities, personalities, critical thinking skills, and even their agreeableness.

However, if these tools cause high-potential candidates to drop out, their real-world utility will be limited. Assessments must strike a balance between thoroughness and efficiency. Lengthy assessments that are not specifically tailored to the applicant pool can have an adverse impact on candidate engagement and completion rates. This is where the concept of bespoke assessments comes into play.

Bespoke assessments, customized to the specific needs and requirements of the organisation and the applicant pool, can enhance the construct validity of the selection process. By aligning the assessments with the critical competencies and skills needed for the role, organisations can ensure the concurrent validity of the assessments. This approach not only increases the likelihood of identifying high-potential candidates but also reduces attrition rates.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) and automated decision-making play a crucial role in streamlining the assessment process. These systems enable efficient data retention and help HR professionals manage large applicant pools. Additionally, they can facilitate the use of diagrammatic reasoning assessments, which assess candidates' ability to interpret and analyse visual information—an important skill in many roles.

When it comes to assessment centres, the content validity of the assessments becomes paramount. The assessments must accurately measure the relevant competencies and job-related tasks to ensure that the results reflect the candidates' potential performance. Employers should prioritise assessments that promote critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, as these skills are often indicative of high performance in complex work environments.

Returning to the issue of candidate attrition, recent research has shed light on the disproportionate drop-out rates among low performers. Criterion validity, the ability of the assessments to predict job performance, becomes particularly relevant here. Assessments must effectively differentiate between low performers and high performers, allowing low performers to self-deselect early on.

Furthermore, the use of assessment centres can contribute to a more holistic evaluation of candidates' abilities, including their conscientiousness and their ability to work effectively in a team. By combining various assessments within the assessment centre, organisations can gather a comprehensive profile of each candidate's potential.

In conclusion, the understanding that assessment length does not have a negative impact on attrition rates and that low performers are more likely to drop out has important implications. Organisations can capitalize on this knowledge by designing bespoke assessments tailored to their applicant pools, thereby enhancing the construct validity and content validity of the selection process. Embracing automated decision-making systems can streamline the assessment process, leading to more efficient evaluations of candidates. By implementing these strategies, organisations can identify high-potential candidates while allowing low performers to self-deselect, resulting in better hiring decisions and effective resource allocation.