Virtual Hiring: Why Talent Assessments are More Vital Than Ever Before

Even with mass vaccinations and a slow return to traditional face-to-face interactions, the swift adoption of virtual recruiting and hiring brought on by the pandemic looks anything but temporary. In fact, 70% of talent professionals say virtual recruiting will be the new standard going forward and 89% of organizations have shifted to virtual recruiting since COVID-19.

Organizations have increasingly turned to technology to improve the hiring process, from applicant tracking systems to automated candidate engagement platforms. However, leading companies are adding a powerful component – talent assessments – to their hiring process that not only helps them adapt to virtual hiring, but also streamlines the screening process, identifies best-fit candidates from the start, meets diversity and inclusion objectives, and promotes the human experience at work.

In a recently published report, Charles Handler, founder of Rocket-Hire and contributor to XBInsight’s assessment technology, states that assessments support the ability to adapt and thrive in the new normal as “COVID-19 pushed many companies to evolve and redefine their businesses, requiring them to staff up with new skill sets, provide an automated way to stack rank job applicants, remove bias, and ensure new hires share a sense of purpose and values with their employers.”

Solving A Growing Challenge: Candidate Screening

Among so many other things, the pandemic and its repercussions greatly impacted talent acquisition teams, shifting demands and responsibilities to fewer resources, and proved to be a historic change agent as virtual recruiting and onboarding became the norm for most. While the growing availability of online job portals, social media and virtual recruitment advertising has helped employers to source more candidates, it has also led to a greater volume of applicants and less in-person or effective screening processes.

The labor market is flush with candidates vying for jobs, in part because 225 million jobs were lost worldwide in 2020 due to the pandemic. More candidates mean more applications and paperwork and a slower hiring process. Despite major advancements in technology, screening is still the most time-intensive aspect of hiring with an average hiring decision for a job taking approximately 23 hours of screening time. In fact, 60% of recruiters say screening candidates is the most time-consuming part of hiring.

In today’s hiring environment, companies need practical and effective tools to effectively screen out poor-fit applicants and screen in candidates best-suited for the job – quickly and remotely. Talent assessment solutions deliver objective, science-backed data so recruiters can focus only on best-fit candidates equipped to do the job. Unlike typical selection tools that test personality or risk behavior, sophisticated talent assessments measure the critical competencies, behaviors, values, and cultural fit needed for a particular role based on a benchmark of what success looks like in the role.

Hiring for Evolving Skill Requirements.

Even before the pandemic crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. Companies are tasked with adapting to rapidly changing conditions and how to match workers to new roles and activities and evolve their hiring to secure the right skills – both hard and soft – to deliver on new business models in the post-pandemic era.

According to Handler, “The execution of strategy requires the right inventory of skills. COVID-19 has created a demand for new skills such as resilience, the ability to deal with uncertainty, the ability to adapt, and the ability to work remotely. Organizations must be flexible in the way they acquire and foster these skills. Assessment represents an excellent way for employers to evaluate these increasingly important traits.”

More than a century of data implies that talent assessments offer a highly effective way for organizations to create value through their hiring processes, through their ability to measure a person’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and cultural fit and use the results to support a standardized process of informed decision-making.

Tools and solutions based on psychometric science, provide organizations with a reliable and accurate way to systematically evaluate an applicant’s ability to successfully perform a specific job while fitting into a specific organization. Several recent survey efforts clearly show the value assessments can add. For instance, a recent survey by Aptitude Research Partners found that companies that invest in assessments are:

  • 4X more likely to improve quality of hire
  • 3X more likely to improve retention
  • 42% more likely to improve the candidate experience

Driving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

DEI was a “nice to have” a few years ago. Today, it has become a top priority with talent leaders hyper-focused to improve and sustain DEI goals in a hybrid workplace. In fact, DEI jumped up four spots on HR’s top priorities this year with nearly 95% of organizations taking up DEI initiatives. Not surprising given the research that diverse teams operating in an inclusive culture foster innovation and financial performance, a crucial capability at a time of extreme social and economic uncertainty.

The good news is virtual recruiting and hiring has helped move the dial for many companies. Organizations can reduce the risk of conscious or unconscious biases that is often part of today’s hiring process through automated tools and algorithms that remove factors such as, gender, age, ethnicity, and more.

However, one of the most effective ways to avoid hiring based on gut feel or bias is to adopt objective, data-based assessments that “levels the playing field” of potential candidates. Hiring decisions are based on unbiased data, naturally expanding the applicant base to a diverse range of candidates.

In addition, as companies seek to diversify their leadership teams and boards, embedding DEI-based competencies into talent assessments can ensure organizations are hiring or promoting leaders with the capabilities to drive DEI initiatives. For example, XBInsight’s talent assessment now includes a DEI competency that measures a candidate’s ability to contribute to an inclusive environment for diverse people, including:

  • Support creativity and collaboration across groups
  • Recognizes and acknowledges individual differences with empathy
  • Provides equitable opportunities for different groups to share ideas
  • Encourages others to celebrate and leverage their strengths
  • Attentive and adaptive to other cultures

Enhancing the Human Experience at Work.

A recent Wall Street Journal article points to an ever-critical need for employers to focus on the human experience in the workplace. Namely, expanding the concept of employee experience to create a positive, supportive, and personalized environment that allows employees to foster personal connection, meaning, and purpose in their work. In fact, a study by Deloitte Digital found companies that focus on the human experience were twice as likely to outperform their peers over a three-year period.

According to Handler, “Both humans and organizations are driven by purpose and goals, the alignment of which creates a state of harmony that leads to greater happiness and increased productivity. A look at the overlap between humans’ inherent desires/values and that of businesses provides a foundation for understanding the significance of Human Experience as an engine of value creation.”

A key aspect of creating a better human experience and aligning people and their employers is through cultural fit. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), cultural fit is defined as “shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors, and understanding. Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does.”

Culture fit is linked to valued outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, and retention. Assessments that are designed for specific jobs, roles, and environment/culture can be most powerful in driving a better human experience. They are a single solution that offers an objective way to measure how well applicants fit with a dynamic and inclusionary definition of culture – ultimately, creating value through the psychological bond that comes with shared values.

Assessments Can Prepare You for the Virtual Future.

Most companies made the shift to virtual recruiting and hiring during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But research has shown this trend is likely here to stay. As Handler notes, assessments is the perfect fit for the pandemic and post-pandemic world because it:

  • Is already virtual and supports the ability to adapt and thrive in the new normal.
  • Increases the odds of successful hires in the new normal.
  • Helps adapt to and acquire newly emerging skill sets.
  • Creates cultural alignment and shared values.
  • Helps remove bias and drives DEI initiatives.
  • Promotes the human experience at work.

To learn more about XBInsight’s talent assessments and virtual hiring solutions, click here.