There are many factors to consider when you're deciding whether or not to hire someone, from the applicant's potential for future development to their compatibility with your company culture

Among all the essential factors in a job interview, the most important one is to know whether a candidate has the skills required to excel at the job. This is especially important in industries where technical know-how and knowledge are crucial.

To get the most accurate and reliable answers, you need to provide technical assessments or even personality tests to evaluate job seekers, going beyond fundamental recruitment processes like evaluating resumes, conducting job interviews and checking references.

This is where pre-employment skills assessment tests can help you narrow down your list of candidates and choose the right talent for the job, ensuring they are the right fit for your business.

what are skills assessment tests?

Skills assessment tests are used to measure and evaluate an individual's abilities and knowledge needed to successfully do a particular job. This form of pre-employment test enables companies to assess the skill sets of potential hires and gauge their level of expertise.

Skill assessment tools can help employers identify which skills are most valuable to their organisation. You can use these results to determine whether you should hire new employees or train current staff.

Companies should use skills tests early in the hiring process so that employers can select a more diverse talent pool and make informed decisions about who they should hire.

data driven skills assessment tests
data driven skills assessment tests

why you should use skills assessment tests

While skills assessments are primarily used as a hiring tool, you can also use this tool to keep track of the skill levels of your current employees. Performing a skills test can help you assess if your workforce has the skills needed for relevant or sufficient for their roles and consequently, allowing you to identify opportunities for training and development.

Furthermore, skills assessments are a proactive strategy for identifying your workforce skills gap, which will help you decide which talent profiles to target during recruitment.

Skills assessment tests are particularly useful when you're hiring for a role that demands specialised knowledge and specific capabilities. For instance, this is crucial in sectors such as manufacturing and logistics, where employers need to hire people who are licensed to operate certain machinery and are familiar with warehouse operations.

key benefits of performing skills assessments:

  • Having a clearer overview of existing skills and proficiency levels in your current workforce
  • In-depth insights on whether your training and development activities have contributed to business goals and where they fall short
  • Identifying what types of additional training are required, and where to focus training efforts
  • Being able to create more comprehensive skill sets across teams
  • Being able to benchmark your own company against industry best practices
  • To identify skills gaps in knowledge or technical expertise.

Another valuable benefit of skills assessment tests is that they provide a data-driven, objective view of an individual's abilities. If you rely on resumes and interviews alone, your final hiring decision will only be based on what the applicant has told you.

Resumes are not purely indicative of job performance. Some people are better at selling themselves than others, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're the best choice for the job.

Such tests are essential to verify the candidate’s claims and allow hiring managers to evaluate people purely on the knowledge and aptitude they display during their assessment.

To ensure that you have an effective hiring strategy, it is worth revisiting your approach to skills assessments.

benefits of skill assessment tests
benefits of skill assessment tests

tips on how to perform a skills assessment effectively

The best way to conduct a skills assessment is by using a combination of multiple methods. Here are the key steps to getting the best results from your skills assessments:

1. set clear goals for what you want to achieve from the results

Having a clear idea about what you want in a new employee will help you create a personalised skills assessment process that works for your organisation. This also serves as the basis for the metrics you'll use to measure results.

To create a detailed picture of what you want to achieve, consider these questions:

  • Will your skills assessments focus entirely on job applicants, or will you also use them for your existing workforce?
  • Do you need specific skill sets, or is it more important to find people who are willing and able to learn?
  • Are you looking to evolve and improve the skills of your existing workforce, or fill gaps created by departures?
  • What skills do you require to be fully market-ready and operate at the optimal level?

The answers to these questions will show where your business priorities lie, which will make it easier to plan and structure your employee skills assessments

setting goals job skills assessment
setting goals job skills assessment

2. be specific about your industry requirements on hard and soft skills

Work skills come in many forms, so it’s important to be specific about the knowledge and competencies that are most important to your organisation and industry.

In industries like logistics and manufacturing, technical skills - such as the ability to use specific software or drive certain vehicles - are crucial. However, many businesses value soft skills such as clear communication and time management, which are more difficult to determine but equally important as hard skills.

Since these two groups of competencies are very different, you need to be clear about the qualities you need and value the most, and make sure that the tests are relevant to the job being applied for.

It's often necessary to begin by focusing on hard skills that are critical to your business, which can range from knowing how to use a specific software to having a health and safety certifications. You can then consider what soft skills your organisation needs and how to effectively assess them.

3. find the best approach or tools that works best for your business

As the HR technology space constantly evolves, there are myriad types of skills assessment methods to evaluate a job candidate's skill sets, each offering its own unique benefits. You can use a variety of tools such as online questionnaires, video interviews, group exercises and case studies that are relevant to your industry.

If you're a manufacturing company looking for an employee who is familiar with certain equipment, you would want to look at hard skills assessments that test their knowledge in this area. You could ask them for certifications, or put job applicants in hypothetical scenarios to put their practical skills and knowledge to the test.

There are also various soft skills assessment tools you can use. Pymetrics, a company supported by the Randstad Innovation Fund, uses gamification, behavioral science and artificial intelligence to measure attributes such as:

  • Attention
  • Effort
  • Fairness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Generosity
  • Learning
  • Risk-taking

If investing in a company like Pymetrics is not an option for your company, there are other ways to assess the abilities of your job candidates.

For instance, if you want to test the candidate’s ability to communicate clearly, you can ask a scenario-based question in the job interview and ask them how they would resolve the situation. You can measure their language proficiency and team fit by evaluating whether you understood their responses clearly and their thought process and intentions during the job interview.

4. measure results

Evaluate each candidate based on their performance during the entire process. Just like any other business investment, your skills evaluations should be judged on the returns they deliver.

Have people that you hired on the basis of skills assessment tests become successful, productive members of your workforce? Did the insights you gained from testing provide an accurate forecast of how certain individuals would perform?

You need to find out whether the results of your skills assessments are evident in the workplace. After you hire the candidate for the role, don’t simply pass on the responsibilities to the hiring manager. Follow up with both the new employee and manager to find out if their actual work performance is aligned with the outcomes of your skills assessments.

By trying to understand where the gaps are, you’ll be able to continuously revise your skills assessments to be more precise and meet today’s hiring standards.

That being said, creating a successful skills assessment isn’t simply about ticking off checkboxes for how well your new employees will perform. It’s important to ensure that you’re aligning your strategy with the way that employees work these days - after all, productivity is directly tied to how motivated your workforce is.

Rather than holding on to the outdated notion that productivity is measured by the time spent on tasks, productivity should mean measuring high-quality work delivered on time - regardless of where and how employees complete their responsibilities.

If you'd like to learn more, you can download our checklist which outlines some of the key steps you need to optimise your skills assessments.

5. personalise your skills assessment tests to get the most out of them

You can get a truly in-depth view of a job applicant's talent and potential by combining a number of skills assessment tests in your recruitment process.

Finding the right balance of hard and soft skills tests will help you make data-driven conclusions about whether the individual can actually do the job and whether they can integrate well into your company and their prospective colleagues.

A skills assessment test that is customised for the role and your organisation could be the most comprehensive approach you need to hire the right talent.

6. keep track of the results and use them to improve your recruiting strategy

It's important to monitor the  skills assessment tests and analyse the results.

If you hire someone on the basis of their test scores, you can compare their actual performance on the job to your expectations of how they would fare based on the test. If the results from the initial skills assessment don’t match the employee’s actual work capabilities, then it's worth considering whether you should change the tool or further customise the process to deliver more accurate results in the future.

As agility is an essential trait for modern businesses, it’s important to ensure you’re using the right skills assessment tools for your recruitment process.

we can connect you with the talent you need

Hiring top talent is one of the top priorities for smart companies to ensure their business' long-term success. Next to experience, knowing what career skills a potential candidate has to excel at the job are the most crucial deciding factors for hiring deserving candidates.

It is difficult to assess a job applicant’s true potential during a job interview as everyone puts their best foot forward to increase their chances of securing the role. As you speak with more people, both new job applicants and existing employees, you will be better able to frame your questions and extract the information you need to make a recruitment decision.

Our specialised recruitment consultants are trained to do just that. They speak to many working professionals and experts in your field of work, so they know how to obtain information about an individual’s technical and soft skills to evaluate whether they are a good fit for the role. They can also obtain the candidate’s certifications to help you shortlist talent whose technical skills meet the job requirements.

Work with us to optimise your recruitment strategy and let us connect you with the right talent you’re looking for who will fit into your organisation and develop strong relationships with your workforce and clients.

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