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5 Steps to Improve Companies’ Talent Assessment

Finding and hiring the right employees is tougher than it’s ever been; improving your talent assessment processes can work wonders

Corporate recruiting teams face a lot of pressure to find candidates that can excel in the plethora of roles that their companies need to fill. The process of hiring successful employees now consumes more time and resources than ever, according to CEB data, but companies have yet to see any corresponding results.

For example, the average time to fill a role has increased by 50% over the past five years (from 42 business days in 2010 to 63 business days in 2015) but with minimal improvement in the quality of those hired — manager ratings of new hires today average 8.02 (out of 10 points) compared to essentially the same score of 7.97 five years ago.

HR managers across the globe are wondering why larger investments in talent programs have not led to better business outcomes. The answer is to establish an integrated approach to all of the company’s talent management activities.

As one vice president of talent management in CEB’s networks of HR professionals said, “We do not have a consistent processes for assessment, selection, and development across the firm, which can lead to poor decisions.”

Solving the talent assessment part of that conundrum is based on 10 best practices, according to CEB analysis; five are covered below, and five will be covered in the next post in this series.

Five Best Practices

  1. Create a foundation of support and expertise: Assessment strategies must be based on real business goals, which means HR leaders will need to liaise with stakeholders around the company. These internal customers should help HR define specific metrics to measure employees’ baseline performance and conduct comparisons over time – the more specific, the better.

    For example, HR teams should set a goal not to “improve retention” but to “reduce attrition by x percent in XYZ market, division, or role.” Unsurprisingly, programs with stated, measurable objectives are far more likely to achieve results and demonstrate a return on investment.

  2. Identify and measure the attributes that underpin business success: Different roles require different competencies, so assessment strategies must consider three factors when finding the right candidate.

    • How to define the attributes of high performance: Whether a company defines high performance as a competency framework, a leadership model, or job description, it must be up to date and aligned to its overall strategy. Employees are then able to understand exactly what they must bring to the table for succeeding in their role.

    • Using a comprehensive process to measure the attributes of HIPO employees: Companies need to consider a candidate’s skills, behavior and personality, particularly when hiring for high-level roles. A robust assessment process covers a candidate’s potential (personality and cognitive ability), knowledge (skills and judgment), and on-the-job behavior – good indicators of employee potential as job responsibilities change in the future.

    • Continuous validation and evaluation: As job roles evolve and companies grow, talent strategies should be monitored and updated constantly.

  3. Provide answers, not test results: Traditional talent assessments provide results in the form of test scores and personality profiles that HR must then interpret. But a more sophisticated approach is to customize assessments for specific, job-relevant answers that would help companies fill open roles quickly and with employees who will help a team hit business goals.

    Over time, these types of assessments can provide companies with a larger picture of the strengths (and limitations) of the employees that are joining the company, or those already there. Recruiters can then use this data to identify development areas in the talent pool and make better decisions on hiring and succession planning.

  4. Capitalize on advanced analytics and big data: Using talent analytics to make business decisions is only going to become more common with 70% of recruiting heads already seeing results from their current analytics data and 73% predicting that analytics will become significantly more important in the next two years.

    But even the best analytics software is only as good as the data fed into it. A complete talent assessment strategy is designed from the ground up so analytics can be built into the process. This requires central storage of assessment results, standardized metrics for company-wide analysis, and data collected from different sources – for instance, performance management and HRIS systems, as well as external labor market data.

  5. Align assessment innovations with technological advances: Our research shows that it takes 30% longer, on average, to identify the right talent which leads to greater costs for companies in terms of recruiter time as well as in positions left vacant for long.

    As a result, companies are constantly looking for ways to speed up the hiring process without compromising on quality and thoroughness. One way HR managers do this is by integrating the assessment process into the talent management system, which automates routine tasks and reduces overall time to hire by up to 50%.


More On…

  • Talent Assessment

    Learn more about CEB's work on building a talent assessment function.

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