What Are Talent Assessments and How Do Companies Use Them?

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What are talent assessments and why do employers use them? Some companies test applicants for employment to determine if the candidate is a good match for their job vacancies. Companies who conduct talent assessments are seeking applicants that match their hiring criteria.

Why Companies Use Talent Assessments

Talent assessments, also called pre-employment tests or employment screening tests, are used to help employers identify candidates that will be a good fit for jobs at their company.

Talent assessments help predict a new hire’s on-the-job performance and retainability, so, in theory, applicants who pass the screening test should perform better as employees if they're hired.

Talent assessment tests are based on hiring and retention case studies and analyzing employee data. The test results will give the company an indication of how close a match the candidate taking the test will be to the company's hiring specifications.

Companies Using Talent Assessments

Talent assessments are used as part of an online screening process that helps employers to decide which candidates to interview. Most talent assessments are given online, or in a company or store office via computer, or a hiring kiosk. They are typically incorporated into the Applicant Tracking Systems (also known as talent management) employers use to track applications.

Many large companies like Macy’s, PetSmart, Bloomingdales, Sears, Express Scripts, Walmart, Burger King, Neiman Marcus, and Luxottica Retail Group, just to mention a few, use pre-employment testing.

Types of Talent Assessments

Most companies utilize online questionnaires to assess whether the personality, work style, knowledge or skills of candidates fit the job at hand or company culture. 

How The Tests Work

While applying at one of the companies that use online talent assessments, the entire hiring process leading up to interviews is handled via the Internet.

 Job postings are listed online, candidates apply online through the company website, and then take the talent assessment.

Applicants either take the test when they apply online or are directed, via email or the company website, on how to take the test. Tests may be hosted on a third party website.  In that case, you'll be given instructions on how to access and take the test.

Some employers will use job simulations that are designed to measure whether candidates can perform tasks associated with the job.  For example, an employer might ask a staff member to role play scenarios with candidates to assess sales, problem-solving, verbal communication or counseling skills. Candidates for administrative or clerical staff positions might be asked to perform tasks that assess their accuracy, speed, proofreading, writing or editing skills.

For jobs that require physical ability, employers might set up simulations to assess strength, dexterity or endurance.  For teaching or other jobs that require public speaking skills, employers might ask candidates to teach a lesson or give a group presentation.

Talent Assessment Validity and Outcomes

Companies that have developed job descriptions and candidate profiles that are detailed and well aligned with success factors for jobs will have the most useful output from talent assessments.  Organizations must be careful to conduct assessments in a consistent, standardized manner to generate reliable results.  Ethical hiring standards dictate that assessments be delivered to all candidates for a particular job and not applied selectively.

After you take the test, you may be told immediately (Walmart's test gives you information right away) whether you passed or failed, or you may not learn how you did.

In some cases, you will be notified if the company is interested in hiring you. In other cases, you may not hear back at all, depending on company policy regarding notifying applicants for employment.

By the way, pass or fail is a relative term. The results are based on how the employer thinks a candidate should answer, which doesn't necessarily correlate with your qualifications for employment. In many cases, the company is looking for a certain type of employee that is a fit for their organization structure.

Companies often have waiting periods before applicants who don't pass the test can take it again. Details on retaking assessments should be available on the company website.

Sample Talent Assessment Questions

What best describes your experiences providing feedback to others at work?

  • You do not have experience
  • You have provided feedback to co-workers
  • You have provided feedback to people working for you
  • You have given feedback to direct reports about their performance
  • You have set standards to achieve optimal feedback

Select matching terms for: ___________ is to water as eat is to ___________

  • dog - cat
  • foot - hand
  • woman - office
  • drink - food
  • ocean - mountain

It is best to analyze all the facts before making a decision.

  • Strongly Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Neutral
  • Agree
  • Strongly Agree

Suggested Reading: Pre-Employment Screening | What is a Pre-Interview Questionnaire

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