Rethinking Graduate Assessment.

Changes in college graduates’ career-seeking behavior, advances in technology and ever-stretched recruitment resources have led to a radical change in graduate assessment and selection.

Graduate assessment is now shorter, online, paperless, engaging and helps focus on the right candidates very early on. The graduate selection processes of yesteryear built around application forms, paper-based numerical and verbal reasoning tests (taking 30 minutes or more to complete) and resource-intensive assessment centers are over.

There is a better way! Graduate assessment must be short, online, paperless and focus on the right people very early in the process. Or graduates will vote with their feet.

Read about the 7 key facts graduate assessment is now built upon. 

Fact No. 1

Graduate assessment must be engaging.

There is real competition for top graduate talent. You can no longer get away with gathering applications and having the only communication with applicants be the yes/no letter (could you ever really get away with that?). On top of this, you cannot simply use the same assessments as every other company that is hiring. This doesn't differentiate you and 'assessment fatigue' will kick in. 

Make your organization the top choice by making the time candidates spend with you as engaging as possible. What does this mean? It’s about finding a way to interact with your applicants, treating them as individuals and including recruitment tests that keep them interested – and avoid the weariness of “here we go again!”

You’ll need to take a look at the design of your entire graduate recruitment program, paying special attention to the graduate assessments you include. Ask yourself: will it engage or disengage applicants?

When selecting the assessments to use:

  • Make sure the application can be completed on a mobile device. After all, that’s where candidates spend their time!
  • Use a modern, contemporary look and feel. Reject traditional, somewhat staid visuals, but don’t fall into the trap of making it a 'game' (we’ll come to that later).
  • Use quick-to-complete tests. Modern psychometrics now enable tests and questionnaires to generate a reliable score quickly.
  • Design an application process that reflects your company. Nothing engages graduates more than seeing what working with you would be like.
  • Include assessments that look like they measure what they are meant to measure. Face validity and robust psychometrics are essential (more about this further on).

Fact No. 2

Graduate assessment isn’t a game, but that doesn’t mean it has to be 'serious'!

Graduate applicants want to be taken seriously. It’s an important time for them — the start of their career. So, why the trend for games in graduate recruitment? Graduates want an engaging experience, but is shooting aliens or sailing the pirate seas the right approach?

Graduates want a job-relevant experience. Shooting aliens and sailing the pirate seas is too game-like in a high-stakes situation. However, level progression and interactive challenges with immediate feedback are gaming elements which really enhance assessments. 

Research* shows that with gamified graduate assessments:

  • 91% of candidates are left with an overall impression that is equal to or better than the traditional assessment format. 
  • 94% say the tests engage applicants and 90% say they reflect the hiring company's brand – as well as, or better than, traditional assessment.
  • 86% report being taken seriously and treated fairly using such gamified assessments.

*Research with over 500 assessment-experienced, millennial candidates compared perceptions of traditional assessment with the gamified assessment series, smartPredict.

Fact No. 3

Graduate assessment only works when you are crystal clear about what makes for success in your business.

Good quality numerical and verbal reasoning tests can highlight which applicants have the abilities you need. And that’s important. However, if you add in an element of behavior or personality, you get a more complete picture of how they’ll fit in and approach work in your particular business.

To find out what your business needs, think about your values, your culture, the people you want working with you. Understand what makes for success in the graduate program – and success beyond the program. When you know what’s needed, work to identify this in your graduate applicants. 

As an example, you may have worked hard to identify the corporate values and competencies for your organization and are encouraging these to filter across the work you do.

Think of the upside of hiring new graduates who understand and align with these values; they’ll be more likely to establish themselves quickly and be promoted rapidly.

Fact No. 4

Graduate assessment needs to be inclusive and open to all.

You need to use graduate assessment that is scientifically proven not to have bias for, or against, any groups of applicants. Moreover, it needs to identify those who have the potential to fit with your business.

With this in place, your graduate applicant pool widens — and helps you to bring in a diverse cohort of graduates.

Fact No. 5

Graduate assessment impacts your employer brand.

You want to stand out from the crowd — and be remembered for giving your applicants a positive experience. That’s a tough thing to do when all graduate recruiters are doing the same thing!

Think about what can make your selection process different. Competency-based video interviewing? A messaging app test? Doing away with paper at your assessment center?

In fact, research with an international consumer brands organization using gamified tests reported that 90% of applicants say that gamified assessments reflected the hiring company as well as, or better than, other assessments they experienced.

Real-life examples: 

  • Rolls-Royce deployed a gamified assessment based around typical situations or scenarios in its business. Candidates were asked to make judgments about what to do via a messaging app style of communication via their mobile. It gave Rolls-Royce a robust situational judgment score and provided the candidates with a strong insight into the role.

  • Nationwide commissioned the design and development of an escape room-type of assessment, helping it to stand out from its competitors, providing an innovative experience for its candidates and delivering efficiencies to its internal teams. 



     

    90% of graduate candidates think gamified tests give as good as or a better reflection of the hiring company*

    *Research with international consumer brands organization

Fact No. 6

Graduate assessment needs to be unique to your organization.

There are many sites and forums graduate applicants can use to get help on the graduate assessment process for top graduate recruiters. Practice tests are fine, candidates need to know what to expect (they calm nerves, help them to perform and let you see them at their best). 

However, it's possible for candidates to know too much before the assessment. You want to give them something a little bit different from anything else they’ve completed.

Psychometrics today allow test developers to create banks of items from which to build a test 'on the fly'. It means that you get all the reliability and robustness you need from the test as well as a fresh, new test for each specific candidate. You can also customize graduate assessment not just to include your logo and corporate colors, but to showcase what it’s like to work with you. This increases knowledge of and engagement with your business and encourages those who are not sure about working with you to remove themselves from – or drop out of – the process.

Fact No. 7

Graduate assessment must not compromise on psychometric quality.

Valid and robust psychometric assessments are an essential component of graduate selection.

Below are 10 questions to ask of your assessment to spot high quality psychometrics.

Is your graduate assessment:

  1. Objective in how it is administered, scored and interpreted?

  2. Reliable, accurate and consistent over time – and does it offer dependable results?

  3. Valid? Does it measure what it is designed to measure?

  4. Differentiating? Does a stronger candidate receive a higher test score than a weaker candidate?

  5. Providing value for money? Are the costs relatable to a benefit?

  6. Standardized? Does it offer comparison with normative or benchmark groups?

  7. Useful? Does the psychometric assessment add clear value to the talent process?

  8. Accepted by candidates?

  9. Cheat-resistant? Candidates must not be able to distort or fake test scores.

  10. Transparent and fair? Is the test and testing process clear and fair to all and do the candidates get appropriate feedback?

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