Assessment process need not be torture

The
growth in web-based recruitment tools means that employers are increasingly
vetting candidates online. Dr Maria Yapp looks at the type of assessment
methods jobseekers must be prepared for

How
long ago was it since you last applied for a job? If it was more than, say,
five years ago, you can expect to see some different approaches to assessment.
The days are numbered when hiring someone involved little more than a brief
interview and a cursory run through the CV. Modern assessment methodology is
becoming more focused.  

The
internet

Web-based
job applications have become increasingly common. In some cases, web-based
forms provide the opportunity for candidates to assess themselves against the
demands of a role and receive immediate feedback on their likely suitability.
The Department of Education’s Fast Track scheme for teachers at
www.fasttrackteaching.gov.uk is a good example.

Some
personality questionnaires are now administered over the web and some firms are
considering introducing the administration of job-based exercises over the web
as a screening tool method.

Assessment
centres

Assessment
centres are evolving and changing their focus to become more commercial. Some
of the key developments in this area are:


The demise of the group discussion. Recruiters increasingly preferring
individual exercises that more effectively isolate the contributions and
achievements of each different candidate


More professional role plays. An increasing number of organisations are using
trained actors to add realism, vibrancy and challenge to these exercises


Business case studies instead of in-trays. Instead of shuffling papers and
making tactical decisions for an hour or so, as with the traditional in-tray,
organisations are increasingly giving candidates a more challenging business
case study to tackle. This places greater demands on candidates’ strategic and
commercial skills.

E-enabled
assessment

Pencil
and paper assessment methods are being replaced with more interactive,
e-enabled approaches.

Xancam
Consulting has worked with several clients to develop assessment centre-type
exercises where, instead of working through papers, forms and reports,
candidates receive a series of timed e-mails to which they must respond. The
value of this approach is that it can give the candidate a very accurate
portrayal of what it actually feels like to work in that organisation.

From
the assessor’s point of view, it is possible to see the order, timing and
priorities that candidates assign in their approach and to assess their
performance in ‘real time’.  

What
do recruiters look for – advice to candidates?

While
basic management capabilities continue to be assessed, organisations today also
place strong emphasis on a potential employee’s values and ‘fit’ with their
culture. Candidates should expect to be asked not only what they have achieved,
but also, how they have approached your work – and in particular, their
predominant style of dealing with people (be they colleagues, direct reports or
customers). Conduct some careful research into your potential employer and try
to identify the fundamentals of their culture and ways of doing things at an
early stage. Candidates should then be able to decide whether this is
consistent with the way they like to operate. If it is, then ensure they
communicate this clearly during the assessment.

Dr
Maria Yapp is managing director of business psychologists Xancam Consulting, www.xancam.co.uk

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