Have you ever had a skills assessment test? Did you know you were having one at the time? Maybe after years of employment you had to do one? These are all things that have become commonplace in employment and you’d be surprised to hear you are not alone when it comes to wanting to understand more about skills assessments.
Whilst we are going to go into more detail later on, a quick definition of a skills assessment is “a test designed to understand if potential employees have the skills to perform the tasks required for their role.” In other words, do you have what it takes to be part of the workforce based on your skillset?
Throughout this guide we will give you a better understanding about skills assessments, what the tests measure, how they are used in the workplace and give you a bit more detail into the different types of skills assessments.
Thomas’s assessments have all the tools and resources you need to check through your skills assessments requirements.
What is a skills assessment?
Often referred to as 'psychometric assessments', skills assessments are designed to test two key areas; personality (your preferred style of behaviour) and aptitude (your ability in certain areas such as verbal and numeracy skills). These assessments help employers measure the kinds of skills you’ll need for a particular role.
Skill assessment tests are just part of the talent assessment equation. However, where they are different from other fields is that their aim is to identify the skills you have in relation to the job that is either being filled or has been filled and you trying to understand what skills gaps there may be.
The most commonly used talent assessment tests:
- Skill assessment tests
- Psychometric tests
- Personality tests
- General mental ability assessments
- Integrity assessments
- Job knowledge tests
- Situational judgment tests
If you were to go over the above list you can see that skills assessments are generally different. They aren’t focused on measuring knowledge (like job knowledge tests do) or personality traits (like most psychometric and personality tests). In fact, a skills assessment tests measure actual skills, most commonly referred to as soft skills and technical skills.
Commonly, a skills assessment test is done with a series of questions in a variety of areas.
From multiple question assessments to face-to-face interviews, all of these test scenarios would be conducted with written and oral examinations and more recently, combinations of both to give a better insight into skills assessments.
What do skills tests measure?
Skill tests are designed to help managers understand the skills of individuals and teams, as well as identify areas where training is needed. Whether it is aligning your current employees or new employees to a skill matrix or whether you want to identify where there are gaps in the skills that need addressing, a skills test will give you all the information you need to be able to make the right decisions.
Because of the very nature of skills assessments, there are many different forms that they can take on and their marking is different.
For example a hard skills assessment, i.e. writing a piece of code will only give you an answer that is either correct or not. The same applies with a case assessment where the candidate is asked to create a presentation with an embedded video - they can only either succeed or fail in that regard.
However, cognitive ability can be measured on a sliding scale basis. Naturally, every assessment has a way of being accurately measured dependent on what is being tested. But how does it concern the management decision to hire?
The better the test and identifying the candidates with more relevant skills, the better the hire. Some candidates may also be suitable for more than one role which could be an advantage for both the business and the candidate. Understanding the level of skills you have in the workforce and what needs to be further developed is of strategic advantage.
How are skills assessment tests used in the workplace?
Nearly 82% of all companies use some form of pre-employment assessment tests, according to the recent Talent Board's Candidate Experience Research report. That is a marked growth over recent years but why? Because skills assessments can give us insights into the candidate or current employees that a basic interview or C.V. can sometimes miss.
These are some of the reasons why businesses can choose to use skills assessment tests, including:
To hire new employees
This will give insight into the candidate before any decisions are made. Are they suitable for the role being advertised? Would they suit a different role altogether? Do they have the necessary skills or would they require the right amount of training to be developed into the right candidate?
To evaluate current employees for different roles
For current employees this can be interesting to see who may be underperforming simply because they don’t have the necessary skills for their role but could have skills needed in other areas of the business.
To identify employees with high leadership potential
Leadership assessments can also help identify those who have the most amount of leadership potential based on the behaviours and skills. Understanding who can lead a team or potentially lead a team based on these assessments is always going to be an advantage for businesses thinking about the long term future.
To compare talent within an organisation against industry or geographical benchmarks
It could be that you are starting your business from scratch but need to staff your team quickly. One of the best ways is to understand what others in your field look for and doing a comparative analysis of your potential hires to see if they have what it takes to make your business a success.
To develop employees’ long-term value
One of the most important attributes of any successful business is how the staff feel about ongoing development and improvement. Importantly, staff want to feel valued and a skills assessment can keep highlighting where there is room for improvement.
The different types of skills assessments
There are four main types of skills assessments, these include; hard skills, work sample, cognitive ability and personality tests. Being able to determine what is right for your business is going to be key, however good assessment skills tests will carry the majority of the things that you are looking for in your ability to assess candidates.
We are going to take a closer look at each of these and understand how they can help you and your organisation make the right choice when it comes to the company’s decision making process.
Hard skills assessment
These are testing skills in a specific area such as software development, maths or typing. This is the ideal examination for the kinds of roles that require the proficiency of candidates when completing frequently performed work activities.
Work sample test
These are “real job interviews” where candidates may be put in a position to resemble tasks employees do in their day to day. These can look like situational judgment tests, case study presentations and technical coding tests.
Cognitive ability test
This is trying to understand how a candidate would perform in unexpected work scenarios. This would be looking at a candidate’s ability to think abstractly when using numerical and verbal reasoning skills.
This is trying to measure how someone’s personality comes across. I.e. Extroverted candidates would be ideal for customer facing positions, whilst introverted candidates would not.
How Thomas can help you understand the skills of potential employees
Using the globally recognised and respected 'Big 5' psychological theory our Personality assessment (also known as the HPTI or High Potential Trait Indicator), helps you to understand if someone is well suited to a certain job role or position. Assessing six core traits (Conscientiousness, Adjustment, Curiosity, Risk Approach, Ambiguity Acceptance and Competitiveness) it can also help to identify leadership potential by as well as help identify the best candidate for a role, adding confidence to your recruitment.
Whether you are looking for the next superstar to join your team, possibly even start to change team dynamics or you want to measure the level of conscientiousness in your workplace, the Thomas assessment platform allows you to recruit with data, not just gut feel.
If you are interested in learning more about our assessments, speak to one of our team.