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Assessing Skill Sets Throughout the Recruiting Lifecycle

Introduction Once you’ve filled your recruiting pipeline with worthy candidates, the next important stage in the recruiting lifecycle is to evaluate the skills and qualifications for each individual and move the right ones through the pipeline. It’s hard enough to gain insights into a resume or profile that can only go into so much depth, especially for technical roles where the devil is in the details. And from an organizational standpoint, you can’t bring every qualified candidate in for an in-person interview to drill down on their real-world employment value. There can be several pitfalls in the conventional evaluation and interviewing process that recruiters and hiring managers rely on. First, in spite of an evaluator’s best intentions, bias can creep into their process, both in content and manner, that can put a candidate at a disadvantage. An unstructured interviewing process can also unintentionally gloss over the most important skills that lead to on-the-job success. And finally, it’s not always easy to build a scalable, repeatable process that can evaluate a large pool of good candidates without letting some slip through the cracks. The team at Hired is pleased to provide some helpful tips to recruiters for assessing skill sets more effectively throughout the recruiting lifecycle, and give you an inside look at what winning companies are doing.


The Vital Role of Assessments Many companies today are turning to testing and assessment tools to help them address these challenges and make more substantive and data-driven hiring decisions. Assessments are a great way to level the playing field and evaluate many candidates for the same skill sets in an objective fashion, using real-life technical scenarios that mirror the work they will be performing on the job. Automated assessment tools in particular can scale to make better use of your time and resources. Several key benefits for recruiting teams include:


Removing bias Assessment tools give you a structured mechanism to remove bias from the evaluation and interview process. It’s completely objective, surfacing skill sets needed to succeed on the job without basing a decision on your intuition or gut feel. And it mitigates the disadvantage a candidate whose first language is not English may have in a traditional format.


Focusing on skills, not experience Experience listed in a profile isn’t necessarily the most important indicator of true skills and expertise. Assessments help you find candidates that may not have a lot of experience in a certain field (they’re relatively new or have more experience in a related discipline) but nonetheless have the skills you’re looking for.


Testing real work scenarios In the past, skills evaluations tended to be more broad-based and didn’t reflect the real rigors of each position. It’s best to give a candidate the chance to showcase their expertise with a specific coding task or other process in real time and show they can meet your exact needs on the fly, without outside help.



Building a consistent process Assessment tools help you standardize your ongoing evaluation process. You’ll get an objective look at how candidates perform in the testing phase and can then compare it to their success on the job. A post-mortem can reveal how a good (or bad) hire performed in the assessment and help you to duplicate (or avoid) that performance in the future.


Identifying better fits and performers in real time You’ll always have to deal with attrition, but a study by Aberdeen Group showed that pre-hire screening yields 39 percent lower turnover rates. A Google study also found that a work sample test is the best predictor of on-the-job performance, and candidates that go through pre-employment screening are 24 percent more likely to exceed performance goals.


Differentiation Providing unbiased assessments is a great way to distinguish yourself to candidates in a crowded hiring environment. Candidates will see that you really care about hiring the most qualified tech workers in a manner that is unbiased and uncovers their true value.


Cost and scale Automated testing helps you scale your recruiting efforts, evaluating many candidates simultaneously to save engineering hours, and ultimately the cost of those used hours, time and costs, which is particularly important for larger tech organizations. The Society for Human Resources Management says that hiring, training and replacing a bad hire can cost almost 5x their annual salary. Making the right choice the first time around is vital to growing your business and keeping costs down.

Why use assessments? Hiring managers who utilize pre-employment assessments report 36% more satisfaction with their final decision than those who don’t. Pre-hire assessments cut down on hiring time and lower the costs of hiring. Companies that use pre-hire screenings report a 39% lower turnover rate. Organizations who use pre-hire assessments are 24% more likely to have employees who exceed performance goals. Seven out of ten (71%) of the Best-in-Class (top 20%) companies now use talent assessment tools. Aberdeen


Evaluate for Multiple Skill Sets Thinking long term, it’s a good idea to seek out tech talent that are adept at multiple disciplines, or those who can fill needs across the product or engineering lifecycle. Testing for and hiring multi-skilled professionals helps you build a top-performing team and gives you better flexibility to meet changing priorities. When organizational needs change, you may need to allocate your existing human resources in various ways. Multi-skill professionals, such as full stack developers that can fill a role in the frontend or back-end of the development lifecycle, have fewer dependencies and help you move faster to fill future roles, especially in small teams. And if a candidate isn’t a great fit right now but has the skills to fill another role moving forward, you can switch gears and keep them on standby for the future.

Other examples of multi-skill scenarios: • Data scientists who also have good coding skills, so it’s a nice idea to co-test your data analyst positions with coding skills in the tech stack such as Python or Java, not just data science tools like SAS or R. • DevOps professionals, who can perform development and deployment operations, can pinch hit with a chatbot integration if resources are tight.


Go Beyond Just Technical Skill Sets Evaluating for technical skill sets is usually going to be your primary focus with skills assessments. However, you can deepen your evaluation to reveal candidates that will not only be great fits with your organization, but also have long-term staying power. One key focus for forward-thinking companies is to evaluate cognitive and problem solving skills that can be invaluable in fast-moving technology environments. The Google study cited above reports that the second-best predictor of on-the-job performance is a test of general cognitive ability. These tests are designed with undefined right and wrong answers, similar to what you might find on an IQ test. Candidates that exhibit a strong ability to solve unpredictable problems are able to think out of the box, even in fairly rigid coding situations. Those workers tend to be more upwardly mobile and more valuable as long-term company assets. Judgment is another important factor in decision-making, and various testing tools can help measure and understand a candidate’s ability to judge and act on various scenarios in a way that benefits the organization.

We like to hire engineers with curious, open minds and a collaborative attitude. We look for people who have problem-solving skills and analytical minds, who have the capacity to learn, the desire to build something really cool, and the elasticity of thinking to go along for the ride.� Zach Haehn Vice President of Engineering at Percolate


Values constitute another vital evaluation criteria for companies that want a certain quality of individual in their workforce. Values interviews are designed to assess if a candidate shares similar values to those your company espouses, which can help you determine if they are a good fit with your workforce. Hired, for example, has five key values that are part of its corporate culture, and every candidate gets tested on those qualities. The company sets ambitious goals and wants employees that show examples of how they push themselves and to see if they have the disposition to just take orders or take charge of a situation. Importantly, these interviews are blind, meaning the interviewer has not seen the candidate’s profile and are not even sure what department they are interviewing with.


Create Your Interview Scorecard When you get to the interview stage, it’s preferable to have a structured process to evaluate skill sets and proficiencies. Creating a scorecard gives you an objective way to do so. A scorecard encourages the hiring manager and recruiter to determine which skills and attributes will be most important, and documents them. This keeps questions and evaluation criteria consistent with the real needs of the organization and gives you the evidence to justify hiring or not hiring based on data, not intuition.

Benefits of using a scorecard: It makes it easier to quickly review interview results, especially when you have a lot of candidates interviewing for the same job or jobs

You get a holistic view of feedback from all interviewers, keeping the criteria consistent and showing you the funnel of metrics used

It’s easier for interviewers to keep their thoughts organized, and easier for the hiring manager and recruiter to aggregate and review all the information

All feedback is evaluated as equivalent, not just one interviewer who might be the loudest voice in the room or the most influential

It’s keeps your panel honest and aligned on organizational objectives


Using Assessments to Enhance the Candidate Experience Skills assessments can be a two way street when it comes to evaluation. Tech candidates are in high demand, so it’s important for you to put your best foot forward at every phase of the recruiting process. Skills assessments not only make the process more predictable and transparent for candidates, it also helps differentiate you from your competition in a tight hiring market. Candidates are eager to see your company culture and have an opportunity to learn new skills. Assessments showcase both, and they show you are putting fairness and transparency over bias and “knowing the right person.” You can help your cause by preparing candidates for their tech assessment and interview. Many companies now share questions that are similar to ones they’ll be asked so they are adequately prepared. Let them bring their own laptops to perform their testing, to mimic the real programming environment in whatever language they choose to work with. You can also use an assessment tool that incorporates live evaluations so candidates can code in real time Assessments are today’s alternative to the old “gotcha” interviews that were perceived to catching a candidate off guard.


Skills assessments are a two-way street. You’re evaluating candidates, and candidates are evaluating you. Showing them your strong commitment to fair and transparent skills evaluation is a great way to strengthen your employer brand.

If you come across a candidate that pushes back on the skills assessment, such as a more senior professional or a passive candidate, be sure to perform the assessment later in the evaluation process, but let them know that it will be part of the regimen. Most will still make the time for it and even enjoy it. Another solution for more sensitive candidates is to access a public GitHub repository and use your same testing rubric to their existing code assets. And remember that even if you do not hire a given candidate, they can be ongoing advocates of your company and your employer brand. You want them to enjoy and share their experience, knowing it was time well spent in a welcome and balanced environment.


Choosing the Right Assessment Tools There are plenty of pre-packaged automated assessment tools available on the market, so you first have to determine if you want to build or buy. Homegrown solutions can work but packaged solution vendors have done their homework and testing, providing tried-and-true apps that can easily integrate with your existing tools.

Things to keep in mind: 01




Determine what specific skills and attributes you want to test for. Testing for general cognitive ability requires a different path than specific skill sets like coding. Make the tool easy for candidates to navigate so they feel their time is well spent. Remember, candidate experience is important. Ensure the testing environment matches your employer brand. If your brand reflects a progressive work environment and your assessment tests are cumbersome, you’re presenting conflicting messages. Be sure you’re set up to provide, evaluate and communicate results quickly and efficiently. Nothing hurts more than glitches in the system or slow response and evaluation time.

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Conclusion Automated skills assessments are among the most popular tools used by recruiting organizations. They give you a great way to uncover the everyday value of a tech candidate, and do so in a fair, unbiased and transparent environment. As your organization grows, it’s important to have a scalable process at your fingertips to evaluate candidates efficiently and effectively, and in a way that keeps the candidate experience positive and engaging.


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Assessing Skill Sets Throughout the Recruiting Lifecycle  

Once you’ve filled your recruiting pipeline with worthy candidates, the next important stage in the recruiting lifecycle is to evaluate the...

Assessing Skill Sets Throughout the Recruiting Lifecycle  

Once you’ve filled your recruiting pipeline with worthy candidates, the next important stage in the recruiting lifecycle is to evaluate the...

Profile for crrcma