Pre-Hire Assessment Length: How Long Is Too Long?
With the current unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, every qualified candidate counts. The ability to identify, attract, and retain talent is imperative to the long-term success and welfare of an organization – more so now than ever.
As hiring experts, we often hear “The test feels too long” or “Candidates aren’t going to complete a 30 – or even 20 – minute assessment.” We understand this perception, but data shows candidates applying for positions with higher levels of responsibility, experience, and educational requirements can complete assessments that run up to 45 minutes without feeling frustrated or running the risk of dropout. The question to ask yourself is: If I am hiring for a C-level, or even an entry-level management position, do I really want to hire someone who isn’t willing to sit down and put in the time to take a 15 or 20 minute job-related assessment?
Here’s another way to think about it. Recall the most important decision you made in the past year, whether it was choosing which school to attend, where to move, or which car to purchase. Chances are, it took you a lot longer than 30 minutes to make that decision. Our own personal career decisions are among the most important choices we make for our well-being and leading a life we perceive as meaningful. From your perspective as a decision-maker, including an assessment that may take 30 minutes for a candidate saves time by streamlining your decision-making process – ensuring you have practical and relevant information to screen candidates and support the success of new hires.
With the labor market as tight as it is, there’s nothing more imperative to your success than getting the right people in the door and keeping them. Committing to that extra bit of time can make all the difference in selecting a quality hire.
Nevertheless, we understand concerns about pre-hire assessment length and the risk of losing candidates. Here’s how we ensure you don’t lose qualified candidates to an assessment.
HOW LONG OF AN ASSESSMENT IS TOO LONG?
We continually monitor assessment completion rates and time to complete for our Customers. Completion rates for our assessments exceed 90%. Our research, and that in the pre-hire assessment field, shows the majority of abandonment occurs as soon as the candidate sees the assessment. Chances are, a candidate who is unwilling to put in 10-15 minutes to complete an assessment for an entry-level position is not someone you want working for you or representing your brand. Additionally, assessments for entry-level positions can run as long as 20-25 minutes before running the risk of dropout – and up to 45 minutes for management and executive-level positions. Furthermore, as candidates continue through the assessment process, they become increasingly invested in finishing, reducing the likelihood of attrition. We also let your candidates know how long the assessment will take – and illustrate their progress with a tracking bar on the top of every screen – building a positive experience.
WHAT’S RELIABLE AND VALID?
You may have a completion time in mind. We often hear the assessment cannot exceed ten – or even five – minutes. We absolutely understand concerns that anything longer will cause too many candidates to leave, or worse yet, leave for your competition. We’d love to share our more than 35 years of experience with you and data demonstrating that assessments that are a bit longer in length are more predictive of candidate performance – and do not compromise your candidate pool.
A five minute assessment cuts short your ability to learn all that you can about a candidate and their ability to perform, fit with your values and culture, and stay. If you’re using a five minute assessment instead of one that is fifteen, you have a third of the data points and information to guide your decisions and inform the next steps for your hiring process. This compromises the validity and reliability of the assessment: the ability of the tests to consistently and accurately measure what they intend to measure. If you’re considering a shorter test – ask for the assessment provider to provide validity and reliability information – and look for differences between the shorter and longer tests. We can’t accurately or precisely measure where a candidate falls on a personality trait or skill that is critical to job performance with just one or two items, so we need several items to ensure consistency across responses – which also reduces the likelihood of faking good on the assessment. Furthermore, if the assessment is reliable, its ability to predict and relate to key outcomes (i.e., validity), such as job performance, turnover, and sales is much more likely.
IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE, BRAND, AND CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
Imagine that you’ve found a job opening at an organization that you absolutely love, and may even consider giving up an arm and a leg just for an opportunity to interview. A short assessment may leave you feeling you didn’t have the opportunity to perform and show how you can add value to the enterprise. We design our assessments so they are clearly job-related, leaving candidates with the perception they were evaluated fairly – and also giving them more information about your company and job expectations.
Extremely long assessments (and what is considered long for an entry-level role is very different than for leadership) can frustrate candidates. But assessments that are too short for what they are attempting to measure affects not only affect their ability to predict performance, but candidate satisfaction. Candidates develop opinions and perceptions about your organization’s culture and brand based solely off of their experience with your hiring process, and assessments play a key role. In addition, situational and gamified questions can all be combined into one assessment bundle to provide a more engaging experience for the candidate, while ensuring they have an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and where they fall on key personality traits that are critical for success in the position and fit with the organization’s culture.
We know that finding top talent is more challenging than ever. Hiring assessments that are designed to deliver a fun, fair, and engaging candidate experience in the ideal amount of time for the position greatly reduces the likelihood that candidates will abandon the hiring process and look for work with one of your competitors – and provides you with all of the job-relevant information needed to make an informed decision on whether to move them forward in the process.
To learn more about pre-hire assessments, check out our eBook on the What, Why, and When of Assessments!