Skills Assessment

Find out everything you need to know about what a skills assessment is, what its benefits are, and how to include it in your own hiring process.

What is a skills assessment?

Skills assessments are tests that allow employers to gauge job candidates’ abilities, as well as the skills of current employees. Skills assessments can test for skills of all types—both hard skills (learned abilities such as coding, typing, or language skills) and soft skills (such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving). 

These tests are not meant to determine knowledge of a specific subject, but the candidate’s practical skill level. Employers can use skill assessments to narrow down candidates during the hiring process or to evaluate current employees’ skills.

Types of skills assessment tests

There are many types of skills assessment tests, varying based on position, industry, and more. To figure out which specific skills to test for, employers generally consider which tools employees will be expected to use, tasks they’ll be responsible for, and what goals and values are important to the company culture. For example, an employer might test a candidate’s technical skills with a particular software program, and they might also test for values like integrity, teamwork, and critical thinking. 

Some common skill assessment tests include:

  • Hard skills assessment: Tests for specific skills needed for the role, such as typing, math, or software development. 
  • Psychometric test: Measures soft skills—like problem-solving, reasoning abilities, integrity, leadership, and time management—that determine aptitude for a role.
  • Personality test: Determines personality type in order for employers to build teams with different strengths that work well together (e.g. Myers-Briggs, enneagram).
    • Work sample test: Evaluates a candidate’s skills based on a sample of their work, such as content writing samples, case studies, competitor research, or coding samples.
    • Situational judgment tests: Presents job candidates with situations they would face in an average workday to see how they respond.
    • Cognitive ability tests: Tests candidates’ logic and reasoning to see how they would perform in unexpected workplace scenarios.
  • Interviews: Evaluates candidates by asking them to perform tasks, answer questions, respond to hypothetical scenarios, and more, often tracked through an interview scorecard.
  • Combination approach: Assesses different skills needed for the position with a single test.

When do organizations use skills assessment tests in the hiring process?

Organizations use skill assessment tests to narrow down the field of applicants to only those who possess the skills needed to perform the role effectively. Often, companies will ask applicants to complete the skill assessment before choosing who to interview, though some might use an assessment tool after a preliminary job interview. Using these tests early in the hiring process allows employers to filter to the candidates best suited for the position, saving their time and the applicants’.

How do companies benefit from skills assessments?

Companies choose to use skill assessment tests for many reasons. In addition to being a more scientific, objective way to evaluate a candidate, it also offers insights into the specific makeup of an existing team, allowing employers to hire based on different strengths—and even strategize the most effective hiring and development plans for further growth. 

Bias-free hiring

Skill assessment tests give employers a more objective—and even anonymized—look at a candidate’s skill level. This helps remove any possible human bias from the hiring process and creates a more equitable, inclusive interview process. Hiring managers can use this data to find the best candidate for the job.

No second-hand information

Interviews give you a candidate’s opinion, and even reference checks from a past job still mean relying on someone else’s thoughts. And unfortunately, not all candidates are truthful on their resumes or in their interviews. By reviewing candidates’ skill assessment results, you can see for yourself whether they’re suited to the role.

Faster and less expensive

Skill assessment tests don’t need to be long to be effective—and they don’t need to take up much of the recruiter’s (or the candidate’s) time. By narrowing down to top candidates early on in the hiring process with a short skill assessment test, employers can save their time and the candidates’ by not wasting resources moving forward with a bad fit. 

More effective development plans

Just because someone doesn’t have every skill needed for a role, that doesn’t mean you need to disqualify them automatically. If a candidate is still the best fit, skill assessment tests can show you what key areas the candidate should plan to work on to succeed in the role—perhaps as part of their 30-60-90 day onboarding plan.

Taking advantage of key strengths

Organizations also use skill assessments to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing teams. With a good understanding of your team’s makeup, you can identify gaps to fill when hiring new members and even provide additional training in specific areas.

A stronger, scientific hiring process

Skill assessments can be a vital part of creating a productive, effective workplace. By testing the necessary skills for the job, employers can make sure they’re hiring the candidates best suited for the role—and giving them the support they need to do their best work. But for a truly objective approach, these assessments need to be handled with the right tools and strategies. Using objective skill assessments—in conjunction with an Interview Intelligence platform like Clovers—hiring teams can take the bias out of hiring to create a fair, inclusive, and equitable interview experience for every candidate, every time.

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