Bad Timing and Your Employment Assessment

Katrina Kibben Assessments, candidate experience

Imagine your last employment assessment. You know the stress and sweat of days like that. Even if you’ve prepared in every way by researching the interviewers and the company, there’s something utterly unpredictable about being the center of attention—the center of something worse than attention: judgment. Then at your most anxious moment, they hand you an assessment. A test you’re usually not prepared for.  

I was not prepared – my first assessment was dropped on me like a bomb. I flew through the panel interview only to be walked into a room with seven other 20-somethings in poorly-fitting suits to take a math test. It smelled like a college dorm room with all the nerves and anxiety. None of us were told we would be taking a test. We were each handed a 4th-grade math test. 

While I understood the purpose of the test ( I was hired to teach reading and math to kids ages 4 to 14), it made me feel so small. They surprised me, for one thing. There was no explanation, just that if we didn’t pass, we wouldn’t be offered a job. The pressure was on. 

I passed, but God did I hate taking that skills assessment. I’m not too fond of math. I wouldn’t say I like tests. I love to teach. For this job, I couldn’t do one without the other two. 

That’s not the case with most assessments, though. Most don’t directly align with the work or the output at all. Case and point. The last assessment I took to work for a global recruiting firm? It involved over 3 hours of probability, accounting, and personality testing. A copywriter doing interest rate math assessments.  

What made it worse? They never even gave me the results. They emailed them to my manager with no guidelines or information. He didn’t know how to decipher the report or use it in any productive way. 

Timing matters when you send an employment assessment. 

I’m all for relevant, timely assessments. But these fools asking people to take up to 3 hours of assessments before they even get an interview? That’s just insanity. It happened last week. No lie, a friend was asked to do a complete brand evaluation, a Disc Assessment, and a Myers Briggs Personality Test. 

This was just more fodder for my ongoing assessment battle on Twitter. I dare you to tell an I/O psychologist that you can game a personality test that asks questions like, “are you a leader?”  

I’ll be honest, I don’t know anything about assessments. But I do know this: they need to follow some new rules. If you’re asking for over 2 hours of work to tell someone they’re unqualified? You’re not doing it right. 

The new rules of engagement on assessments 

Breaking down my banter, there are some universal truths and laws to apply to your assessment process. 

  1. No sneak attacks. Everyone should know they are going to take an assessment before your automation sends some links. 
  2. They should be timely. Immediately post-application usually isn’t it. Please wait until you’ve interviewed them, at least. You’re wasting everyone’s time and money before then. Don’t give me that shit about “it shows if they’re motivated,” either. 
  3. Explain why. Candidates should know how this assessment applies to the job. 
  4. Share the results. It’s rude to give someone a ton of tests with no results. 
  5. Never give math tests to a copywriter. 

Ok, that last one is just for me. 

If you’re about to post a comment about how assessments are lovely, hold up. This blog post is not an assessment haters rant. It is a current-assessment-process-hater post. 

So tell me. How do you manage the assessment process to make it better for the candidate experience?