The role of talent assessment before and after the pandemic

The pandemic showed us how important it is to support and keep our employees. The question is how does talent assessment fit into that?

Talent Assessment

Talent assessments are often said to play a big role in optimizing recruiting and selection, increasing efficiency, improving brand strength and ensuring a positive candidate experience. A study by Aberdeen Group shows that companies that consistently use adequate and business relevant tools for talent assessment have lower annual  hiring costs by 75% and increased profit by 2.5% in comparison to companies that don’t have a defined Talent strategy. So, the question is what is talent assessment and what is its purpose?

A talent assessment isn’t just a personality questionnaire or skill test followed by a report that tells us if the candidate “passed or failed”. First of all the goal of an assessment is to understand behaviour that creates differences on an individual level and therefore help the employer make a decision, taking into consideration a broader, organizational context. Additionally, assessments should be adjusted to the needs and goals of the organization, depending on the job, function and organizational structure. 

There are a lot of talent assessment solutions. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that for useful and valid results the tests should be:

  • Scientific
  • Reliable and valid
  • Standardized
  • Objective
  • Ethically applied
  • Consistent
  • Relevant for the job

Effects of unprofessional application of psychological tools

In spite of great results and proven potential, some are still skeptical about talent assessments. This is mostly due to the unprofessional use of these tools by organizations. It is therefore important to note the causes that may lead to the reliability of the results being compromised.

We’ve witnessed many cases when the use of inadequate instruments lead to more harm than good. That’s because not every psychological test is also a psychometric test. What makes a test psychometric are the above-mentioned criteria. Only an objective and standardized test, that’s based on science and measures behaviour and skills that are relevant for the job provides valid results that really help us make a business decision.

Apart from that, there are also many examples when organizations aren’t consistent in applying assessments during the whole employee life cycle. By using them only for recruiting and selection they undermine their potential in areas such as leadership development, career planning, realizing development needs, identifying talent within the organization and building and developing teams. On top of that the majority of those that do invest in continuous employee development often use competency and skill training as a universal solution, even when it isn’t relevant for the job. Using adequate assessments during the whole employee life cycle makes sure that the right person is always on the right job.  

Using an invalid test that shows satisfactory results is denying reality

Talent Assessment today

Apart from determining what talent assessment should and shouldn’t be in order to deliver the best results, it should also be considered what organizations can do to maximize their potential.

The world of modern-day business is constantly faced with overcoming numerous new challenges and risks in a fast and efficient way. Especially since the pandemic started it became imperative to support and keep employees. But, to stay present, organizations had to stop hiring, reduce costs and completely change the way they work. Now, more than ever, it’s important that organizations find the best way to answer the following questions:

  • How to attract and retain key talent? When 1 in 4 candidates leave the organization within a year.
  • How to recognize those that will be successful in certain roles? When there is an enormous list of candidates applying for the same position, 65% don’t meet basic requirements.
  • How to identify effective leaders? When 50% of those that rise to leadership positions fail.

That’s where talent assessment comes into play. Ever since the pandemic normalized working from home, talent assessments established themselves as an especially good solution to these problems. Developing new assessment tools and re-imagining existing ones so they are a better fit for a virtual environment made selection of large numbers of candidates more efficient by making sure the process remained objective, transparent and, above all, fair.

To use the full potential of talent assessments it’s important that the organization has its outcomes in mind from the beginning, so that they can pick the best methods to achieve, measure and track them. There are various different desired outcomes and new research points to the importance of context and organizational circumstances in choosing the right ones to focus on.

Confronting yourself happens when a valid test shows dissatisfactory results

The Future of talent assessments

The pandemic changed some things forever. While it is beyond doubt that most of us can’t wait for the world to go back to normal, the reality is that the “new normal” stopped being new and became our usual, everyday life. One lesson that we will definitely take away from the pandemic is the use of modern technologies in business, even in those fields where they previously weren’t applied. These technologies have shown their potential in helping organizations achieve their attraction, development and retention goals and they will keep developing into the future.

As a closing note, every practitioner of psychometric testing now has the responsibility of making sure that the transition towards new technologies is carried out in a way that protects candidates’ data. This new approach to assessments is kept objective and standardized and as a result it’s precise, fair and celebrates individual differences in a business environment.


[1] Mollie Lombardi & Jason Saba (2010) Talent Assessment Strategies. A Decision Guide for Organizational Performance

[2] American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education. (2014). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association

[3] Burke, E. (2009). Preserving the integrity of online testing. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2(1), 35-38.

[4] Gonzalez, M. F., Capman, J. F., Oswald, F. L., Theys, E. R., & Tomczak, D. L. (2019). “Where’s the IO?” artificial intelligence and machine learning in talent management systems. Personnel Assessment and Decisions, 5(3), 33-44