Why asking candidates to complete a recruitment assessment can scare the c**p out of them – and how to avoid it.

When you ask candidates to take a recruitment assessment, do you consider what goes through their minds? Do you take time to explain more about the process? Or is it more a throwaway comment at the end of a long e mail about their interview (“Oh, and by the way, we want you to take an assessment before we meet….”)?

If it’s the latter, you might, inadvertently, be adding hugely to their stress and anxiety about your recruitment process. Knowing, then doing something about it, can help you, as an employer, design a better recruitment process and create a more positive candidate experience.

So, why would candidates be concerned about the simple request to take an assessment? 

Fear of the Unknown

One of the primary reasons is fear of the unknown. Put simply, they don’t know what to expect. This uncertainty includes not knowing the format of the assessment, the type of questions it’ll ask and how their performance will be evaluated. Candidates often worry about whether the assessment will accurately reflect their abilities or if they could simply ‘assess their way out of contention’. 

Performance Anxiety

When candidates are being assessed for a role they REALLY want (or REALLY need), the pressure to perform can be overwhelming. They worry a poor assessment result will jeopardise their chances of getting the job, regardless of their qualifications, experience or interview performance. 

Concerns About Fairness

Candidates worry about the fairness of assessments. Is the assessment a true reflection of the skills and knowledge required for the job? And will there be biases in the assessment process that could disadvantage them?

Fear of Being Judged

Candidates already know that they are being judged in a recruitment process, which is already inherently stressful. But they understand you’ll be reviewing their CV and interviewing them. Recruitment assessments are something outside the realm of their usual experience. Being judged on the basis of something they don’t understand is a huge issue for some people.

Impact on Self-Esteem

Candidates who suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ may see ‘poor’ performance in an assessment as a reflection of their worth or abilities, rather than just one part of the hiring process. The damage this can cause to their already fragile self-esteem can make candidates apprehensive about taking assessments.

Time and Effort

Assessments take time and effort to complete. Candidates may be juggling multiple job applications, work responsibilities and personal commitments so a request to “go into a darkened room, without interruptions, for an hour and take an assessment” probably won’t help. 

Negative Past Experiences

Not all assessments create positive experiences and, if the wrong tool is used or the results are fed back incorrectly, it  can give assessments, in general, a bad reputation with candidates. It’s easy to see why bad experiences arise and how they can carry over to the next time (and the next time, and the next…).

Reducing/removing fear and anxiety from the use of Recruitment Assessments

Clear communication is crucial. Providing detailed information about the assessment format, content and purpose can help reduce uncertainty. 

Ensuring assessments are fair, relevant and free from bias is key. 

Providing feedback, post–assessment, can help candidates understand their performance and areas for improvement or, at least, give them a return on their ‘time investment’.

How Great People Inside works with its clients to remove the anxiety of taking assessments

We work, with our clients, to create a form of words they can use when asking candidates to take an assessment. It could tell them:

  • which assessment is being used
  • how long it should take
  • why the client is using assessments
  • what they expect to learn from using them
  • what they do with the information
  • the best way to approach answering the questions
  • how the results are evaluated
  • what feedback they can expect to receive

In addition, we emphasise that there is no right or wrong answer, just the candidate’s answer and that the assessment will not be used, on its own, to make ‘recruit/don’t recruit’ decisions.

Finally, we make the point that being recruited into a role they’re not suited to is not good for them or the employer. Not getting a job you wanted is disappointing but you may just have avoided a work situation that could have been uncomfortable or, worse still, only temporary.

Ready to make better hiring decisions with easy to understand psychometric tests?

No calls, no contract, no commitment – yours to try for free.

More from the blog

Unlocking your internal talent pool

Unlocking your internal talent pool

(from a presentation delivered at I Love Claims - New Generation conference in Manchester) Most employers are making decisions about who to recruit based on just a quarter of the information available on a candidate. According to Martin Goodwill, CEO of Great People...

read more