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We are operating the candidates’ market right now. Expectations for employers are high, but meeting them requires you to shift your mindset from a company-only to a more candidate-centric approach. As pre-employment assessments become increasingly popular in screening candidates, this article showcases the potential these frameworks offer for building a hiring process that puts the candidate first. And through that, gives you the competitive edge you need to succeed in today’s war for talent. 




As we navigate through today’s war for talent, it is imperative that your recruitment strategy sets you apart from others. You might have noticed the tables have turned and it’s the candidates dictating the rules of the hiring game now. And it’s increasingly difficult to impress them.

In a recent study, Forbes reported that 87% of their respondents were actively considering switching jobs in 2022. But in order for them to choose you as their future employer, you must start sharpening your competitive edge as early as the first touchpoint of your recruitment process.

And since 78% of candidates are reported to believe that a company’s recruitment process is a direct reflection of how they value their employees, the Candidate Experience you provide is key to being able to hire the right talent. 

But how can you make your company stand out from the crowd as early as the application process? Including a pre-hiring assessment as one of your recruitment stages might do just that.

In a ‘traditional’ application process, candidates will be asked to send in a CV and a cover letter, usually followed by an invitation for an initial HR screening interview and a specialized conversation with the hiring manager.

The latter will often be supplemented with a case interview to further assess the candidates’ ability to perform the job you’re looking to fill. 

A more innovative approach might introduce a pre-employment assessment instead of (or alongside) one or more of the application stages.

These assessments usually aim at evaluating the candidates’ personality or culture fit, cognitive abilities, language skills or other role-specific abilities (e.g. coding, copywriting or analytical skills). 

Earlier this year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 56% of employers already use pre-employment assessments to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities.

But how do you make sure that including pre-employment testing in your recruitment process positively impacts your Candidate Experience? And how will this help you attract, hire and retain the best quality talent?


Enter the World of Pre-Employment Assessments with the Right Mindset

Using a personality test or a cognitive ability assessment might be an efficient way to screen your candidates as they advance from one stage of your recruitment process to another, but using pre-employment assessments for the wrong reasons will not provide your applicants with a great Candidate Experience “just because”.

In fact, it might just do the opposite. 

First and Foremost: Get Your Team Up to Speed

Often, the goal of including a pre-hiring assessment in your recruitment process is to make the job of choosing the right candidates faster and easier for the recruiter.

In some cases, the test itself might not even integrate well into the existing recruitment stages, making it feel redundant and stressful for the candidates. 

The first step in making your assessment framework contribute to great Candidate Experience is to invest in making your recruitment team understand why and how it contributes to a successful hiring process.

If your recruiters and hiring managers aren’t confident in the value of your assessments, how will you make sure your candidates feel motivated to complete them? 

Make sure you make the most of your assessment provider’s resource library to get your team on the same page.

Assessment partners, such as Humanostics (an official PI Index partner), might even offer workshops for your Talent Acquisition and management teams in order to implement the framework into your recruitment process seamlessly. 


Find the Right Assessment

While efficiency and ease of use for your TA team should be top of mind when choosing your assessment framework, the candidate-driven nature of today’s job market suggests that you should prioritize Candidate Experience just as much.

Consider using the Four Point Model of Candidate Experience in your strategy:.

  • Difficulty
  • Engagement
  • Convenience
  • (Perceived) Relevance

Your candidates want to be challenged and given the opportunity to showcase their skills, rather than simply talking about them. Think about using Computer Adaptive Tests (CAT) which tailor the difficulty of the assessment as the candidate advances from one question to the next. 

If a CAT assessment is not accessible to you, try choosing a test that is moderate in its difficulty.

This way, you will avoid the risk of raising the bar too high or not enough, catering to the variety of candidates going through your recruitment process and providing a better and tailored Candidate Experience.


The more engaging the assessment, the more positively your candidates will approach it. For example, pre-employment tests that are too long or too tedious will decrease your candidates’ engagement the further into the assessment they get.

Make sure you choose a framework that offers variety in the question types or employs a game-like format. The latter is bound to have a positive impact on Candidate Experience, as recent research suggests that engagement increases by a whole 60% if a work-related task is gamified.


We know it takes an average of 42 days to fill a position and that a candidate will spend an average of 3-4 hours updating their CV, writing a cover letter and submitting their application. Not to mention the time it takes to prepare and attend interviews, regardless of whether they’re held online or on-site. 

Your candidates’ time is precious, especially if they’re juggling a couple of application processes at once.

Adding in extra time-consuming steps that elongate the process increases the risk of losing your favorite candidates to a company with a more efficient hiring process. 

In a recent report, Sterling reported that over 70% of candidates have either withdrawn their application, or at least considered it, if the process was too lengthy or complex.

Make sure that the assessment framework you choose does not end up being a contributing factor in pushing your candidates to withdraw from the recruitment process.

According to a study, candidates can complete an assessment up to 45 minutes long without the risk of them dropping out.

Pre-employment tests such as the PI Index will take an average of 6 ½ minutes to complete for the personality test, and 12 minutes for the cognitive assessment, while still providing telling results. 

The more convenient completing the assessment will be for the candidate, the more likely they are to have a good Candidate Experience afterwards.

(Perceived) Relevance

The way you communicate with your candidates about the assessment impacts the way they will perceive and approach it. And the less your candidates know about it, the more likely they are to deem it irrelevant. 

Failing to introduce your candidates to the assessment framework properly (e.g. providing them with learning materials about it or explaining how the results will impact the recruitment process) might not only make the assessment feel redundant, but also increase their anxiety around it. 

If your candidate is applying for a purely creative role but your assessment’s main focus is on numbers, seeing the relevance might not be as obvious.

Even if you, as the recruiter, know that the accuracy of this particular pre-employment test is quite high.

Being more transparent and informative about the assessment gives your candidates a chance to prepare themselves and feel confident enough to give it their best shot.

Make your candidates feel like you’re rooting for them, rather than trying to trick them into tripping up. This will inevitably improve their Candidate Experience and set them up for a fair assessment. 


Use Assessments to Nail the Interview Stage

Betting all your money on an automated assessment framework to choose the best candidate for you might not be the wisest choice.

But using it as a conversation starter and a tool to guide recruiters and hiring managers through the interview stages will give the candidate a personalized experience.

The aim of conducting a pre-employment assessment is to understand the candidate’s working style and how it fits into your expectations.

Unfortunately, it is often used as a stand-alone judgment, rather than a ‘user manual’ that guides the way you should approach the particular candidate during interviews.

Assessments such as the PI Index go as far as generating an interview guide based on the candidate’s assessment profile, suggesting specific questions to confirm alignment or explore their potential further. 

Imagine turning up to an interview and the hiring manager leads the interview in a way that makes you feel at ease, asking all the right questions to allow you to showcase how you fit into the role and the company. 

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the framework and how it can inform the way you should interview your candidates is what makes your recruitment process strong and effective for both parties, and makes you stand out from competition.


Put Your Feelings into Words Driven by Data

Working with people requires you to put your own judgment aside. But the hiring manager’s ‘gut feeling’ is often what it comes down to when choosing the right candidate.

How do you explain that to the candidates who are rejected? 

Including pre-employment testing when hiring gives you data to fall back on.

A recent Talenthub study showed that 30% of applicants believe the reason for their rejection wasn’t clear enough, and a further 20% wish companies provided better feedback on how they can improve their performance in the future. 

Providing constructive feedback to rejected candidates, especially if they were far in the process, is what turns them into ambassadors and keeps them in your talent pool. 

[READ MORE: 9 Rejection Email Templates for a Personalized Candidate Experience]

Find a Common Language

Including an assessment framework as part of the recruitment process will not only give you the tools needed to communicate with your candidates, but it will also make it easier for you and your hiring team to align on expectations.

Ensuring that your recruiters and hiring managers find a common language to align across the organization is a big step in the right direction.

Viewing the assessment criteria as means for a fair discussion, screening and selection process will enrich and strengthen the collaboration between stakeholders that make the recruitment process.

62% of employers say the main reason they use pre-hire assessments is to help hiring managers make better decisions. This is because they don’t just have a specific framework to fall back on, but are able to communicate their choices to the rest of the hiring team better.


Eliminate Bias and Even Out the Playing Field

The sheer volume of applications an average recruiter must go through is bound to invite bias into their decision-making process.

Whether that’s focusing on candidates with degrees from top-tier universities or experience from well-known companies as the blueprint for desired candidates, a hint of subjectivity is always there.

When using a pre-employment assessment, the playing field is even. Every candidate will have the same starting point, the same pool of questions and an equal opportunity to be assessed by showing, rather than just telling.

And when your team is aligned in using the assessment criteria to guide your interview structure, the remainder of the recruitment process will continue to be more or less objective.

The SHRM found that 36% of employers are very likely to put a candidate who scores high on an assessment but doesn’t meet the minimum years of experience on their list of final candidates.

So giving your candidates a fair chance to showcase their skills and culture fit does not only potentially give you qualified employees.

It also contributes to a great Candidate Experience and establishes your company as fair, positively impacting your Employer Branding.


A More Informed Decision to Hire Gives You a Loyal Employee

Humanostics’ users of the PI Index report that the Job Assessment package (Personality Test and Cognitive Assessment) contributes to a faster speed and accuracy proposition.

And over 40% of recruiters say that they’re more satisfied with their new hires having implemented pre-employment tests into their hiring process.

But the benefits go both ways.

Apart from giving you an idea of your candidates’ skillset, pre-employment testing allows you to understand their personality types on a deeper level.

This is an extremely powerful tool to have for team leaders and managers.

At first, your candidates’ assessment profile will give you an idea on how (and if) they fit into your team.

Yet, further down the line, knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses, how they like to be praised and what motivates them will allow you to cater to their needs and ensure they develop within the company in a way that agrees with them.

Making an employee feel seen and understood is the first and major step towards a long-lasting and fulfilling collaboration. 


In Short

Implementing pre-employment testing in your recruitment process is one thing. Doing it effectively – while making great Candidate Experience your priority – is another. 

Before you start using assessments in your hiring, make sure your whole recruitment team is on the same page.

Understanding the value it brings will not only allow your recruiters and hiring managers to find a common language when discussing candidates, but it will also show in the way you communicate with candidates throughout the process. 

Providing your candidates with relevant resources and reassuring them of the role the assessment plays in the recruitment process will make them less anxious and more motivated to try their best in the test, thereby boosting their overall Candidate Experience.

Keep these 4 factors in mind when choosing your assessment framework:

  • Difficulty
  • Engagement
  • Convenience
  • (Perceived) Relevance

Pre-employment assessments are not there to do the hard work of choosing the right candidate for you. To harness their power in the most efficient way, use them to supplement your interview process.

Understanding the way your candidates work best, how to gently push them to uncover further potential and what motivates them will make you a strong leader, setting the groundwork for a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration.

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