Concept Onyx Recruitment

Putting candidates to the test

Your shortlist of candidates is drawn up, you’ve arranged the interviews and have your questions at the ready. But first impressions can be deceiving and making a recruitment mistake can cost you a lot of time and money, so how do you make sure you properly assess candidates at interview?

Candidate testing is a current hot topic, particularly in the digital sector where employers may not have the skills and experience in roles for which they are recruiting. But it’s not just technical roles that can pose a problem, any role involving bringing in a new skill that is not already present in the business involves establishing whether candidates really can do what they say they can do.

Done correctly, testing can keep you from making the wrong hire and save you recruitment time and costs. These are a few of our tips on how employers can make the process relevant and respectful.

Technical skills: you can see the issue here, if you’re recruiting a web developer but don’t know your CSS from your WordPress widgets, how can you set a test and assess the results? Happily, you can involve a specialist creative sector recruitment company whose staff have direct experience, or you can use one of the many tools on the market designed to help you. Google ‘IT skills testing for technical hires’ and a number of solutions will appear, all designed specifically for non-technical recruiters. and are just two examples.

Design brief: a good design brief works on several levels. You will have seen the candidate’s portfolio of course, but setting a creative brief under test conditions allows you to assess how someone interprets a brief, to evaluate their creative skills and to see how they present their work both physically and verbally. And all to a deadline shorter than the most demanding of clients.

Free ideas: many candidates are wary of giving away their creative ideas for free, only to see them appear in a campaign several months later, particularly if they are unsuccessful. For roles such as account managers or digital marketing, consider creating a dummy company in a hypothetical situation rather than giving them a live brief to work with.

Psychometric testing: everyone puts their best foot forward under interview conditions making objective assessment of hidden traits such as personality, attitude and beliefs a nightmare. Start by drawing up a list of personality traits essential to the job, so you know what you are testing for.

Encourage candidates to be themselves and not try to trick the test. This benefits neither party and can backfire by faking them out of a job. Do try to give feedback to the applicant whether they are successful or not, it will help them use the information to improve areas of weakness and learn to perform better in the working environment.

Professional help: If you need any help putting a test together, give one of our consultants a call and we will be glad to help.


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