Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Online assessment tools

Have you recently had a chance to take an online assessment as a part of the recruitment process? I should tell you from my personal experience that those things can be quite tedious and long, but also you are constantly riddled by the question: how do I trick the system?

The system can be tricked - no doubt about that. I am making this bold statement purely because anything created by one human being can be reverse-engineered by another. In the past couple of months I have completed quite a number of various online questionnaires, forms, tests and other forms intended to find out who I am and what I do.

Undoubtedly, there are many advantages to using an online tool in the selection process: they save time, money, efforts and provide consistency alongside with objectivity. At the same time, inadvertently they will sort out potentially brilliant employees who get bored with online assessments / are having a bad day / press wrong buttons / or because the system has been configured improperly. Obviously, each company will be looking for different things in candidates and each assessment tool will be tailored made for them - there are no cookie-cut solutions when it comes to selecting future employees. Still, my success rate so far has been around 50% with those and I can never really predict if I am doing great or poorly on the test.

For instance, I applied for the Sony European Graduate Prorgamme. They offer you to rate the responses to typical management situations according to the degree of their appropriateness in that particular context. There are 20 of them and thinking of each one can get quite tedious. The system is fully automated and there is surely a cut off score that defines if you are progressing in the process of if you receive a "we are sorry" letter. Well, I did not get in.

A different example is The Momentum Programme at Prudential. Their online assessment tool is a combination of pre-selected response choices and free-text answers. While this approach is more time and effort consuming, you get much better results, primarily because they are qualitative.

Which one is better? As always - it depends. For the candidate, doing an automated "click-the-button" test is easier and faster: those normally get completed in about 20-40 minutes. Writing essays is more difficult and you need more time - it took me a couple of hours to complete the Prudential online assessment, but that effort paid off: I have received an invitation for the assessment center at the end of March in London. I am not sure what conclusions we can draw from this, but my observation is that when I get a chance to convey my personality and experience through a narrative, my results are much better. If I am dealing with a robot, I normally fail.

I am still undecided about online assessments. Yes, there are advantages as well as drawbacks and in some situations they can be real life savers. As long as one fully understands the risks associated with using those and uses the tools effectively, there are definitely large organizational benefits that can be reaped. In the meantime, I should be packing for London!

1 comment:

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