The current economic conditions have resulted in fewer jobs, increased number of candidates competing for these places, and tightened HR resources and budgets. As a result, HR departments have continued to rely on the recruitment processes that were designed to work effectively during times when the applicant numbers and competition was not so great. Tightened budgets have also meant HR has been unable to seek the consulting advice in order to help adapt their processes effectively; instead they have relied on ‘quick fixes’ such as increasing ‘cut-offs’ on ability tests. The downside of this measure is the increased cut-offs can lead to the removal of potential candidates who are behaviourally very competent, and instead invite an increased proportion of ‘geeks’ who are great on tests, but not necessarily a great fit with the organisational culture.

In assessment, it is common to hear about the fairness, reliability and validity of the recruitment tools and processes, but how often do we hear about utility? In essence, this addresses whether the cost of using the consultancy and psychometric solutions is lower than the benefits it brings to the organisation.

What makes assessments so powerful in predicting performance is they encourage consistency and standardisation.

By continuing with recruitment processes that were designed to work best at a time that was different to now, and by implementing quick fixes, many organisations have incurred cost due to wrong hires, and failed to take advantage of the benefits that selecting the correct talent could have brought to the organisation.

Another aspect that has been compromised recently is that of consistency. What makes assessments so powerful in predicting performance is they encourage consistency and standardisation. The only aspect of assessment that introduces subjectivity into the process is that of human intervention, primarily the ‘assessors’. Training can help assessors set a benchmark and to use best practice for assessment whilst avoiding common pitfalls. Annual refresher training has also added much value to help realign trained assessors towards best practice. Recently tightened budgets means this element has also disappeared, thus introducing more ‘error’ into selection decisions.

Using consulting advice is likely to bring about more savings and better performance results for the organisation in the longer run. It is important to bear in mind the best practice principles around assessment and to continue with training where possible. Candidate experience has become a growing trend as organisations compete to offer better assessment experiences to their applicants; after all, we all want to retain our candidates as customers.

Whilst the economic climate has played a dampening role, market conditions are likely to improve, and although it may be too early to implement innovative or new approaches to any process, there is no harm in being proactive about these for the future.