What are career assessments?

By Talent Management

Use career assessments to hire the right people and build careers that help your business

Please respond ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ “I’d rather do things quickly than perfectly.”[1]

Sound familiar? If it does, you have probably taken a type of career assessment or evaluation. Or given one. Why?

Human Resources (HR) professionals face a continuous challenge onboarding the right talent and keeping it. Almost three out of four employers say they have hired the wrong candidate for a position.[2] HR leaders site retention and turnover as their top challenges for the third straight year.[3]

Career assessments can help. They’re analytical testing and analysis tools that can measure attributes such as skills, behaviors, preferences, personalities and aptitudes to help you pre-determine how well a candidate will fit a corresponding position or career path. They can also help you retain talent by assessing employees’ career goals and fit for opportunities within your business.

Career assessments can be self-service or conducted by a human resources professionals or career counselors. They are built around batteries of questions and different types of responses (multiple choice, fill in the blank, yes/no) across a range of attributes, including interests, values, preferences, motivations, aptitudes, skills, behavioral style and more. Tabulated and analyzed responses provide insights into the candidate and help confirm or give greater clarity to what careers and environments best align with a candidate’s attributes.

Career assessments can be formal and informal, but are usually built on scientific principles. There are both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Some assessments apply key development indicators or KDIs that aggregate and align measurements with types of careers for a specific organization or business. Assessments such as Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator are broader in scope, but can also be used in a career assessment context.[4]

The Audiopedia – What is career assessment? Watch the video

Why are career assessments important? Career assessments can help you improve in a variety of critical HR measurements that have an impact on overall business. Hiring the wrong candidate, for example, can cost companies about $14,900 over a year according to a CareerBuilder survey. When it happens, employers see a decrease in productivity and work quality. Plus, the time for replacing and training the misplaced employee.[2]

Make the right hire: Through formal and informal assessments, you can ascertain a candidate’s personality, biography, problem-solving ability and job/organizational fit. This information can concentrate the hiring pool to high-potential candidates and help predict how they will perform based on what they have done (skills), what they will do (traits) and what that they want to do (fit).

Reduce attrition and turnover: The assessment is also critical to the employee. Finding an opportunity that fits their skills, experience, behavior style and cultural comfort level helps them fulfill their potential. These are employees that will stick around, increase productivity and reduce costs associated with attrition and turnover.

Develop your talent: Assessment-based, talent-consulting tools can help you keep and develop talent. Career coaches align your employee’s career goals with your business goals. In this win-win scenario, employees become more engaged as they work with an online coach to uncover potential in themselves and opportunities in your company. Developing talent within lowers hiring costs compared to looking outside and improved employee engagement helps cut attrition.

IBM Kenexa® Assessments Solution Brief and Catalog Choosing the right person for the right job using career assessments. Read the brief

Key features of effective career assessments According to Career Assessment Goddess, two key factors for effective career assessments are: Validity – does the assessment truly measure what it is designed to measure? Reliability – if so, does it accurately and consistently measure those things over time, for example, if the test is given to different candidates, are the results consistent? 

Elements to look for to help with validity and reliability:

Based on science: Look for assessment tools that are built using input or are based on research from Ph.D.-level experts or licensed Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists. Home brew won’t do.

Deep content: A reliable assessment provider should show deep content across a range of job types (clerical to executive) and measurements: work style preferences, acquired experience, company culture, values and preferences; and HR goals from onboarding to development of future company leaders.

Technology-enabled: Career assessments are available online in a variety of applications. Even better, advanced assessment capabilities can bring artificial intelligence and high-powered analytics to the task to reduce your work while boosting the accuracy of the assessment.

Consumability: Check out the input: HR professionals, usually, are not IT experts. You need to be able to navigate, control and optimize an assessment tool in an easy, flexible, natural way. And the output: The most valid, reliable report in the world won’t mean much if you can’t understand it or use it. The challenge is finding output that makes sense and informs decisions and also delivers details in terms of profiles, follow-up questions and next steps.

Data-driven: One of the key advantages of accurate career assessments is that they use analytics to help you make fact-based decisions, rather than relying on intuition and instinct. Look for providers that know what they’re doing in terms of handling and analyzing data — lots of it and in as many ways possible.

IBM® named a leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Modern Talent Acquisition Systems 2017 Vendor Assessment Career assessment capabilities are helping power IBM talent acquisition solutions. Read the report to learn more and evaluate other providers. Read the report

Case studies

ATB Financial See how ATB Financial is leveraging HR Analytics to understand how employee engagement impacts loyalty and success. Watch the video

Recruit-Drive When it seems like everyone’s applying to your business, how can you find the candidates best-suited to a role? Recruit-Drive saw a chance to use analytics to help employers cut through complexity. Read the case study

Orlando Health To drive talent development and retention in a fast-changing clinical environment, Orlando Health looked for a rapid, cost-effective way to manage competencies for thousands of healthcare employees. Read the case study

Red Lobster Red Lobster shortens the hiring process and finds better candidates with IBM Kenexa Talent Acquisition Suite. Watch the video

Blog Conversations about transforming talent management

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[1] 6 sample questions employers ask to assess your personality, Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, July 16, 2015 http://www.businessinsider.com/sample-questions-on-personality-tests-2015-7

[2] Regret hiring an employee, like Trump with Jeff Sessions? Here’s what to do, Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish, May 30, 2018 https://moneyish.com/ish/regret-hiring-that-terrible-new-employee-heres-what-to-do/

[3] Employee Retention Remains Top Workforce Challenge, SHRM Study Finds, Staffing Industry Analysts, January 25, 2018 https://www2.staffingindustry.com/site/Editorial/Daily-News/Employee-retention-remains-top-workforce-challenge-SHRM-survey-finds-44838

[4] Career assessment, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Career_assessment