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Assessments in the War For Talent, fast forward to 2022

09 March 2022, by Wouter van Bockhaven

In a market where job openings far outstrip the available candidates, what’s the role of assessments?

We don’t have objective numbers to prove this, but discussions with selection firms and test providers have taught us that there seems to be a strong reduction in the use of testing in selection. In a job market where you as an employer apply to the candidate, that’s not entirely surprising. Most recruiters we talk to consider themselves lucky if they even find quality candidates who are willing to accept the job within a reasonable premium above the expected budget. And when they do, not many of them would ask their candidates to spend their valuable time on assessments and go out of their way to prove how qualified they are.

If we think on the longer term, however, today’s war for talent does nothing at all to reduce the cost of a bad hire later on. Quite the contrary. So, while it’s totally understandable that you do not want to use assessments to ‘thin the herd’ today, how do you keep the intelligence in your talent identification?

5 ways to retain the benefits of evidence-based assessments in effective talent policies in 2022

  1. Use assessments inside the talent relationship, rather than as a barrier to access it. Currently, 81% of testing is used in selection, to make your talent identification intelligent for day 1. However, most decisions affecting the productivity and engagement of your talents are made in the months and years after. That’s why it’s in fact a best practice to start adding evidence-based assessments (as a rule of thumb, these are not the ones reducing reality to four colors) to your talent processes. Especially onboarding and talent reviews are your prime candidates.  
  2. This also feeds into a second trend in testing: don’t just test what your candidates can do for you, also find out what you can do for them. Sounds simple enough, and you would think that this basic notion of talent marketing would be commonplace in 2022, right? With new scientific insights into the behavioral indicators to be measured, aside from further innovations to the prediction of potential, there’s increasing attention to indicators that inform about the individual perspective of the employee. Think of career interests, motivational factors, self-management competencies, energy levels, and so on. These need to be included if you want to build sustainable long-term relationships with your employees. People often leave their employer because they think they will find more development & career opportunities elsewhere. Sounds familiar?
  3. Improve the talent experience: HR professionals and the testing market have become so familiar with assessments to separate the wheat from the chaff that they rarely still reflect on what their actual value is. We’ve all started to take assessments for granted as the cost of doing business with talent. The consequence is that we’ve persisted in some uses of assessments that are suboptimal, to say the least, while completely ignoring their potential value in other places. In this ‘auto-pilot’ use of assessments, we’ve come to accept that we use one model for personality or competencies to test for each type of job, employment relationship, organizational level, and culture. That’s called the ‘streetlight fallacy’[1]: trying to fit everyone into the same – static – pegs. That problem only becomes bigger in a dynamic reality where our conceptions of jobs are outdated as soon as they are described and where dynamic factors such as the ability to learn or to stay engaged and energized are of increasing importance. What’s more, we’ve also ignored the value of those assessments for the talents taking them, and for guiding our ‘touch points’ with those talents. So, a third best practice is to use intelligence in processes that ‘touch’ coworkers. One of the most powerful uses of intelligence lies in personalizing the employee experience in your talent management and development interactions.
  4. Development is also a key area to improve your use of talent intelligence. We’ve understood by now that forcing people to take part in training programs or coaching sessions of which they don’t see the relevance is counterproductive. Today it is best practice to leave the final responsibility for development with the individual employee. An employer can take on a facilitating role. Facilitating in this case means, amongst other things, that you show the employee a clear image in terms of development opportunities. This is where evidence-based assessments come in. Assessments that provide you with a clear employee report packed with insights and development tips allow you to facilitate the employee’s reflection in terms of development priorities.
  5. Digitization also hits HR, so meet talents where they are. Don’t ask them to fill out hour-long forms and think of the UX of anything you put in front of them. The dull and winded interfaces of Taleo or SAP we know from the 90s may have worked for you, but today’s high potentials will equate the look & feel of interfaces with your company’s brand. On the inside, HR tech can also do a lot of the dull work for you and your managers: algorithms allow for new and exciting ways to structure our profession. By automating problem analysis and judgment, we can apply the human skills of our HR professionals, managers, mentors, and coaches to what humans do best: building relationships and creating meaning. Another advantage: machines allow us to assess more people for less money with less effort. HR digitalization implies that the role of HR professionals will change. They will be able to apply algorithms to talent forecasting while understanding the limits of what algorithms can do. Algorithms are a way to increase the strategical impact of HR on the business.

In conclusion, in the ongoing war for talent, assessments create an ocean of opportunities for your talent management and development programs, from onboarding throughout the entire employee life cycle.

Looking for an evidence-based talent forecasting solution? At TalentLogiQs we are happy to help you further. Take a look at the Talent Review Profiler or contact us.

[1] Also called the drunkard’s search, after a 13th Century parable of a drunkard who was stopped by a law officer while he was searching under a streetlight for the keys he lost elsewhere, simply because here he had the light to look for them.


About the author

Wouter van Bockhaven
Wouter van Bockhaven

Wouter Van Bockhaven, PhD, is co-founder and CEO of TalentLogiQs™ and part-time professor of innovation ecosystems and business research methods at Antwerp Management School. His interest lies in developing knowledge and tooling at the nexus of strategy, individual and group behavior, and the sustainable alignment of incentives and perspectives of individuals and organizations.