This Vendor Crowdsources Skills Tests

No matter how good we are at finding applicants for a job we can’t truly succeed in making a good hire if we can’t identify the best ones. One core tool we use for assessing candidates, the resume, isn’t so great because resumes contain very low quality of information — they are not good at predicting who will perform well on the job. The best tool for assessing candidates is to bring them in for a thorough battery of assessment tests. This isn’t so great because it’s impossibly expensive.

I always applaud attempts to create better information about candidates, so I wanted to spend a moment on Vervoe’s use of job specific assessment tests. The heart of Vervoe’s approach is online tests that simulate the actual work a person will to do on the job. Do they need to do regression analysis? Get them to do an example. Do they need to deal with angry customers? Ask them to demonstrate that skill.

There are limits to this approach.  The tests can’t take too long or applicants will drop out. The tests need to be easy to score (ideally, scored by a machine) or it will create too much work for recruiters. Vervoe is aiming for the sweet spot where testing the skills is manageable.

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Of course, there are many types of assessment tests. There are the familiar psychometrics tests of traits and interests. There are the more generic skills test such as general ability in Excel. Vervoe’s tests which are tuned to specific tasks for specific jobs adds another arrow to your assessment quiver.

What is interesting

  • Rather than build the tests themselves, Vervoe crowdsources them from experts in that job. If this takes off then there is the potential for tests aimed at very specific jobs.
  • Assessment of the quality of the tests is also crowdsourced, clients share insights on how well they work.
  • These tests are particularly useful when companies are not expert in the job they are hiring for. If you are hiring your first data scientist you may have no idea what to look for. A test designed to help hire data scientists can put you on the right track.
  • The closer the assessment of a candidate rests on a measure of their ability to do the job the less bias there will be.

What is really important

  • In general, skills tests are not checked for psychometric validity the way an assessment of, for example, the Big Five personality traits is. That said, if someone demonstrates they can do a task that’s important in the job, that’s a good indicator of fit.
  • Talent acquisition teams need have the capability to try out new tools. Innovative vendors are working on fresh ways to build the employment brand, source candidates, assess skills and so on. The only way a company will remain competitive in the hiring space will be to invest a certain amount of effort in experimenting with new tools.
  • Omer Molad, co-founder of Vervoe, says that in today’s era you don’t need to think about implementation or roll-out for these kinds of simple SaaS tools. You can get just start using them (it will only take one hour to start), see if they help, and evolve from there.
David Creelman

David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, is a globally recognized thinker on people analytics and talent management. Some of his more interesting projects included:

  • Conducted workshops around the world on the practical aspects of people analytics
  • Took business leaders from Japan’s Recruit Co. on a tour of US tech companies (Recruit eventually bought Indeed.com for $1 billion)
  • Studied the relationship between Boards and HR (won Walker Award)
  • Spoke at the World Bank in Paris on HR reporting
  • Co-authored Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. The book was endorsed by the CHROs of IBM, LinkedIn and Starbucks.
  • Worked with Dr. Wanda Wallace on “Leading when you are not the expert” which topped the “Most Popular List” on the Harvard Business Review’s blog.
  • Worked with Dr. Henry Mintzberg on peer coaching, David’s learning modules are among the most popular topics.

Currently David is helping organizations to get on-track with people analytics.

This work led to him being made a Fellow for the Centre of Evidence-based Management (Netherlands) for his contributions to the field.

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