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Admin cards, acetate scoring keys and algorithms

Admin cards, acetate scoring keys and algorithms

By Ian Kershaw, Senior Client Director

Firstly a confession – I’m not a psychologist of any flavour, occupational or otherwise. My entry in to the world of psychometric testing started when a recruitment agency I had registered with, advised me to take an interview with a test publisher because I needed the practice. In 2008 I found myself unexpectedly looking for a new job. I hadn’t had an interview for many years and whilst having no interest in working for a test publisher, I seemed to tick many of the boxes they were looking for, so getting some interview miles under my belt seemed like a reasonable suggestion.


To cut this part of my CV story short, I joined said publisher and haven’t looked back since! I would like to share with you my thoughts and reflections on how the market has evolved during my last 10 years at the assessment coal face. Back in 2008, paper and pencil testing was still a thing. A not inconsiderable amount of time during my 5-day combined Level A&B course was dedicated to proving that I could read from an administration card without ad-libbing or deviating from the “script”. Consistency in the delivery of instructions and therefore the test experience from a candidate perspective was paramount and was drilled home to the aspiring practitioners in the room. From this we moved on to being taught the right way to overlay a coloured acetate sheet resembling a Swiss cheese on to a candidate’s answer page, then totting up the correct quantity of shaded blobs (pencil only please!). Fast forward 10 years and we now have a whole raft of assessment offerings from an ever-increasing number of providers. So, it’s no surprise that when organisations try to work out what they need from their recruitment and assessment partners, the bewildering array of ‘solutions’ and conflicting marketing hype creates confusion and inertia.

Despite the shift away from traditional methods of assessment we should all still care deeply that the candidate experience remains a pivotal part of the process. Candidates might also be your customers too, right? This focus, though, should not be at the expense of the predictive power of the assessment tools you choose. You still have to make a great hire from the tens, if not hundreds or in some cases thousands of applicants.

With the increasing focus, and rightly so, on adverse impact and social mobility, the assessment assault course I took back in 2008 is increasingly unfit for purpose. Many test publishers have used technology to evolve their online and off-the-shelf offerings to replace legacy instruments, but whilst these single measurement tests tick the precision box, they fall down on all aspects of candidate experience in the digital world. You only have to look at the retail sector to see how many traditional high street stores are taking a huge hit as they fail to evolve and adapt. Contrast this with newer entrants, who operate with more agility and a proposition more closely aligned to market needs, who are reporting record growth.

So how might you start to navigate your way through the myriad of options?

I’d like to offer you what I see as being the key decision criteria that characterise the most successful outcomes of a supplier selection and review process:

  • Be really clear about what you are looking for and why that is important – not only what good looks like now, but what good might look like in a few years’ time, both for you organisationally and for the successful applicant. What delivers success for a graduate new in post in year one, for example is different to what accelerates their progression in your organisation.
  • Once you have clarity on the above, how does your test partner demonstrate that their content measures this for you specifically rather than simply saying it has measured something that may be broadly similar for a broadly similar organisation?
  • An employee invariably demonstrates success in the role as a result of the blend of several factors. Does your test partner measure this blended composite of needs as a whole person fit?
  • Given the ever-shortening attention span, can you measure what you need quickly and efficiently, and can your candidates relate to what is being asked of them in connection with the likely needs of the role they are applying for?
  • Irrespective of any applicant tracking system you may or may not deploy, is all of the data you capture, such as assessment results, interview data and assessment centre content all stored in a safe and compliant place?
  • Do you employ a feedback loop that takes progression data from successful and unsuccessful hires and use this to inform and adapt your recruitment assessment content and strategy?

In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world you are demanding more agility from your employees at all levels of the organisation. My suggestion is to demand the same level of agility and fitness for purpose from your test provider so that your partnership remains relevant for today as well as tomorrow.

Changing assessment for good
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