Do Assessments Make It More Difficult to Staff Positions?

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In trying to attract and retain top talent during the hiring process, you are competing against employers in your industry and beyond.  This competition begins with the employment application and hiring assessment. Applicants can easily remove themselves from your hiring process with little time lost if these initial steps take too much time or are difficult to complete.  Using an assessment after the application provides crucial initial information about abilities, personality, and potential fit with your culture that would be difficult to know without extensive interviewing.  However, if fewer applicants finish the assessment than started the application, could the assessment be causing applicants to abandon the hiring process?

As a pre-employment assessment provider for many organizations intensely competing for labor, we’ve heard this concern. In almost all cases the assessment is not the problem.  However, in helping our customers determine if and when abandonment is a concern, we’ve discovered the best approach is to look at the hiring process as a whole and systematically analyze each step.  Here are four suggestions to help you determine if abandonment is a concern and take concrete steps to improve the quality and size of your applicant pool.

1. Understand your applicant flow.  Using your applicant tracking system, or online hiring platform, you can determine the percent of applicants who started the application, but failed to finish the assessment.  This percentage, or abandonment rate, includes both a) applicants who left the hiring process during the assessment, and b) applicants who did not finish the employment application (and didn’t reach the assessment!).  This means both tools should be considered when evaluating how to improve applicant flow and the hiring process.

2. Review the content of your employment application. This is the applicant’s first investment in the hiring process.  So how you can keep applicants through this critical first step of the process? Keep applications short and ask only for the critical information you need to make a decision about an applicant at this step.  When applicant abandonment is a problem, the application is usually the primary cause; but fortunately, one of the easiest to fix.

3. Ensure each step is mobile optimized.  More than half of applicants begin the hiring process on a mobile device – and many complete the entire process online.  Make sure both your employment application and assessment are optimized for view on mobile devices.  An unpleasant first experience with your organization’s application will cause some applicants to leave – and create an unfavorable first impression for those who stay.

4. Last, but not least, evaluate the assessment experience. Small features, like having a progress bar that lets applicants see where they are in the assessment, communicating about how long the assessment will take, and using different types of questions and formats will keep candidates engaged.  Applicants are also more likely to continue with the hiring process, and believe it was fair (even if they were not selected), when the assessments look like they are related to the job for which they are applying.  Corvirtus assessments leverage all of these features to create an experience applicants perceive as fair, engaging, and informative.

While we’ve found the most effective way to retain applicants is streamlining the employment application, adjustments to assessments and other steps can also improve the quality and size of your applicant pool.  Assessments can be used to gather valuable information to improve your hiring decisions without decreasing applicant flow. However, continually monitoring your applicant abandonment rate for each step of the hiring process allows you to act on opportunities to better engage candidates and build a connection that can increase their commitment and intentions to work for your organization.  By continually tracking metrics from your recruitment and hiring process you can exceed the competition in engaging and retaining top talent.

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