When we tell people that Equip is a pre-hiring skill assessments platform, a few of them say, "Oh, candidates don't have the patience to take assessments. This won't work". (Most other people say, "You guys are awesome for doing this". We like these people more. Obs.)
Still, there is some truth to candidates not wanting to take assessments. Especially when the job market is red-hot and people are able to find and switch jobs easily due to remote work. In our opinion, the right question isn't, "Do candidates take assessments?". It is, "For what type of candidates are assessments most useful?" The answer is, unequivocally, "Entry-level hires".
By an Entry-level hire, we mean a candidate who hasn't yet had a real job. We also include candidates with, say, up to 1 year of work experience. What have they really learnt in that 1 year anyway. By Skill Assessments, we mean things like Aptitude Tests, Coding Tests, Communication Tests. Basically, anything that judges how good a candidate will be at their role.
Here are 5 reasons why Skill Assessments are most effective for Entry-level hiring.
1. Large Number of Applicants
Entry-level jobs attract the most number of applicants. Getting on a call with each applicant is not practical. Even going through each candidate's CV is very time-consuming. You will need a system to "rank" the applicants. Skill Assessments are a great way to do it.
More senior roles are hired "laterally". They come in via references or the roles are open on a rolling basis. So, there isn't that much volume to process. Whereas, as there are so many students graduating every year, there are a lot more entry-level applicants.
2. Insufficient Data Points
An Entry-level candidate's CV will contain their academic scores and maybe a couple of internships. These data tells you very little about how they will perform at the workplace. Also, how will you distinguish between Adam and Eve, who got the same grades in college? Are you going to select Adam because he scored more on your favorite subject? Or Eve because she interned at your favorite pizza franchise?
With an employee who has work experience, you can see exactly what they have done in the real world. Their references will tell you how they function at their jobs. With an entry-level hire, all these are fundamentally unknowable. Skill Assessments tell you something objective and relevant about the candidate.
3. Eager to start a job
You know what sucks the most? Realizing that there is no Series 2 after an awesome Series 1 finale. Oops, sorry, not that. Wrong blog! Let's start over. What sucks the most is a candidate who strings you along, or ghosts you, and never joins your team. You know what is true of most of these candidates? They already have a job.
Entry-level candidates are looking for a job. If they don't get a job, they don't get paid. The status quo is untenable, so they will be much more willing to do what it takes to land a job. They will not consider assessments as a waste of their time. They will think of them as a necessary step to start earning.
4. Time and Availability
Remember that entry-level candidates are, quite literally, jobless. They don't have meetings to attend, or emails to ignore. Their only job is to get a job. Further, they have just finished a bunch of their college exams. An assessment will feel natural to them.
Compare that with someone who has a full-time job. God forbid they also have kids. Do you think they can finish your Python Programming test when their daughter is asking them, "Why don't islands float away?"
5. Expression of Interest
Even if a candidate doesn't do very well on the assessment, their investment of time and effort into it is a sign of their hard work and diligence. Especially for an Entry-level role, this is useful to know because such roles typically involve a lot of grunt work. Choosing to do an assessment also indicates the candidate's interest in joining your company.
For reasons of time and availability mentioned above, senior employees may decline to do an assessment. But, if an entry-level candidate declines, recruiters can looks upon it unfavourably.
Best Practices to conduct Entry-level Assessments
Despite what we mentioned above about Entry-level candidates and how they shouldn't be declining assessments, we obviously empathize with them for having to do too many assessments. As such candidates apply to tens of jobs, completing one assessment per job position becomes very difficult.
Here are a few tips for recruiters on how to make this experience better for the candidates.
1. Use a Centralized Platform
Don't create your own tests. Use something like Equip so that if the candidate has finished a test for that skill, they need not take the same test again. Tests on such platforms are standardized like the SAT or GRE that multiple universities can use. A candidate is much more likely to take your assessment if they know that their score can be reused by others, in case they don't get the job at your company.
2. Shorten your tests, and stagger them
Do not give a candidate a single 3-hour test. Break them up into smaller tests that don't take up more than 30 minutes or so. If a candidate makes it past a certain stage, communicate that they have qualified to a smaller pool and then give them another test. Again, platforms like Equip can help you do this.
Candidates are much more likely to take two tests of 30 minutes than of 1 test of 1 hour, if they know that the second test is more selective.
3. Improve the UX of taking the test
The candidate should be able to just click a link and start the test. The more difficult you make the "setting up" of the test, the higher your dropout will be. If your test is a simple quiz, consider allowing them to take it on a mobile phone.
Getting assessed should be a breeze, and a long, drawn-out process. Candidates are much more likely to engage with future rounds if you can show them how simple the first round is.
Don't Hate Us, O Entry-level Candidate!
If you are an Entry-level candidate who has read this far without tweeting about how patronizing and inconsiderate this blogpost is, you are a very gentle soul! (Or, er, you don't use Twitter.) But, that isn't the intention at all.
Hiring is a critical function to every organization and we want recruiters to make well-informed decisions on the tools they should use. From our experience in the field, we know that recruiters find us most effective when hiring for Entry-level jobs. That's all.