Assessing Behaviour and Aptitude in Recruitment: Why it Matters |

With a recession looming and recruitment budgets likely to be cut, talent acquisition professionals are under immense pressure to deliver more for less. It can be tempting to sacrifice candidate evaluation for the sake of speed, but recruiters should be aware that the long-tail consequences of doing so are likely to come back to haunt them.  

The climbing cost of living may curb the ‘Great Resignation’ that we’ve seen across many markets over the last 12 months. But the changes to the workplace precipitated by the pandemic – like hybrid working and increased emphasis on employee wellbeing – aren’t going away. Nor are macroeconomic trends such as technological advancement, which demands that global workforces continuously upskill themselves to keep pace with the change.  

Organisations need new recruits who are capable of agile working, rapid upskilling and showing leadership amid change and uncertainty. With headcounts constrained, employers should be doubling down on candidate evaluation. To identify the right talent in the most efficient way, employers need to work smarter through the shrewd use of recruitment technologies. Here’s why, during the recession, assessing your candidates is going to be critical for successful recruitment

A solution to the skill shortage  

In the present tight labour market, and with costs on the rise, removing nonessential steps from recruitment processes seems prudent. But our research suggests that the pressure on talent acquisition managers to accelerate hiring could lead to costly mistakes in the long run. Our Spotlight Research Report revealed that a shocking 57% of new hires aren’t working out in some capacity, according to the people who made the hiring decision.  

The top predictor of candidate success in a new role is cognitive ability or ‘aptitude’ (Schmidt, 2016). Experience, or the contents of an applicant’s CV, are a comparatively unreliable predictor of in-role performance. To unlock a wider talent pool of top performing talent, hiring managers should switch their focus to assessing candidates’ fluid intelligence to ascertain their level of aptitude for learning ‘on the job’, and their potential for ongoing development. 

The Thomas Aptitude (or GIA) assessment enables you to gain a detailed understanding of a person’s fluid intelligence. This reveals how quickly they can grasp the fundamentals of a new role, process new information and their leadership potential. The assessment focuses on a range of cognitive skills including individuals’ abilities to reason (reasoning), detect errors (perceptual speed), and process numbers (number speed and accuracy), words (word meaning) and visual information (spatial visualisation). Predicting role and team fit makes good business sense, as does improving engagement and productivity by gaining insight into employees’ specific needs for well-being.  

Solving the skills gap

Due to technological development, skills readiness is an ever-receding frontier. Markets are evolving more quickly, which means that organisations require workforces that can keep pace and deal effectively with change and uncertainty.  

Both experience and learning potential are important factors in how effectively people deal with rapid change and advancing complexity. Experience consists of attributes that can change over time such as education, knowledge, work training and work experience, whereas learning potential is more about attributes that are stable over time such as personality traits, values and intelligence. As a result, to succeed amidst today’s complexity and change, leaders need to use both the knowledge they’ve built over time and their mental ability and agility to make smart, assertive decisions. 

Crucially, leaders also need employees in place across the entire organisation who have the cognitive ability to carry out these decisions. Leaders look to HR to fill their talent pipelines with managers who possess high cognitive ability, along with high-performing employees who are great candidates for leadership roles in the future due to their cognitive characteristics. To resource for change, organisations need people who have both the behavioural and cognitive potential for succession . To truly be successful, different leadership roles require particular behavioural styles, making exploring these a key component of any senior hiring process.   

“For every job... the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.” - Laszlo Bock former Senior Vice President of People Operations for Google.

Help with hybrid hiring 

In a hybrid hiring or working environment, communication is more difficult than it was in traditional office-based workplaces. It can be more difficult to determine what a candidate’s contribution to team dynamics will be in practice, and more challenging to integrate new recruits into existing teams and into your organisation’s culture. During acute skills shortage, hiring managers need to know which candidates have the potential to onboard successfully, learn the required skills quickly, and steer their organisations to greater heights.  

Aptitude assessments focus on a range of cognitive skills, are quick to complete, and provide a wealth of rich information on candidates in a remote hiring environment. Naturally, some of the skills that the Thomas GIA assesses will be essential in certain job functions, while others may be less so. Creating a job profile that specifies these essential capabilities will increase the efficiency and objectivity of your hiring process. In a remote or hybrid work environment, the assessment shows how comfortable a candidate will be processing new information, and thus how easily they are likely to adjust to this new working environment.  

Remote working may be a new normal, but our behavioural responses to it are predictable, since behavioural preferences are consistent over time (Furnham, 2002). Based on the results our British Psychological Society-validated Behaviour assessment, Thomas’ Remote Working Report offers detailed insights into how organisations can best manage, communicate with and motivate new hires in a remote environment. The report reveals the candidate’s likely response to remote work, and how your organisation can support them to do their best work in this setting.  

Beating bias in recruitment 

In situations that involve uncertainty, such as hiring decisions, people tend to fall back on unconscious biases.  For example, candidates of Black and Asian ethnicities are twice as likely to be unemployed as White candidates (BuiltIn). A Yale University study showed that even scientists, who are trained to be objective, are more likely to hire men, rank them higher in competency and pay them £3,300 more a year than women (Moss-Rancusin et al.). Two thirds of autistic adults in the UK are unemployed (National Autistic Society). Bias prevents organisations from benefitting from a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, but since it is so often unconscious, it can be challenging to make hiring fair. 

Another study found that when Black and Asian candidates ‘whitened’ their CV, they received up to 50% more invitations to interview (Gerdeman). CVs can be exclusive, and though anonymising them can help to minimise bias, privilege still has a bearing on access to opportunity and therefore on past career experience. Psychometric assessments allow hiring managers to measure what matters: candidates’ speed of learning and behavioural preferences, both of which have been shown to be reliable predictors of future career performance (MacRae & Furnham). Use of aptitude assessments at the screening stage can broaden your talent pool, making it more inclusive of less privileged but fast-learning applicants who will upskill and progress rapidly in your organisation. 

A competitive candidate experience

Reversing 2020’s unemployment trend, in 2021 half the world’s workforce was looking to move jobs (Microsoft). Research by Korn Ferry consultants suggests that by 2030, the global talent deficit may top 85 million positions. As technology continues to advance, the global skills shortage is only likely to become more acute. We have entered a candidate-driven market. 

The transparency created by platforms like Glassdoor means that candidate experience feedback can no longer be avoided. The fact is that 86% of employees and jobseekers research company reviews to decide on where to apply for a job (Glassdoor). Thomas’ candidate feedback reports (available for all assessments) enable enlightened recruitment conversations and provide candidates with valuable insights into themselves, elevating your organisation’s candidate experience.  

Assessing candidates against a role profile that includes behaviour or aptitude can both substantiate and accelerate hiring decisions, leading to improved recruitment outcomes. You can learn more about assessing Aptitude and Behaviour here and gain more insight into what’s not working for recruitment by downloading the full Spotlight on Recruitment research report.