(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Criteria Corp, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. They recently launched an app called JobFlare (iOS, FREE) that allows users to play “brain games” that are scientifically created to test the cognitive abilities that are considered the key predictors of job success. Enjoy the article!)
It might not come as a surprise to you that low unemployment and a growing skills gap have created a talent deficit. In the latest Manpower Group Talent Shortage Survey, more that 40 percent of global employers reported facing talent shortages.
But I think it’s important to note, that when we talk about talent shortages, this isn’t simply a situation where recruiters aren’t sourcing in the right places. There’s a bigger challenge. PwC’s 2018 CEO Survey reported that one-third of U.S. CEOs are concerned that today’s workforce doesn’t have the right skills.
So, when we talk about a talent shortage, we’re talking about not being able to find the talent necessary to run the business. And this has a huge impact on the bottom-line. I ran across an article in Harvard Business Review that said 80 percent of a business’ profits are generated by 20 percent of its workforce. If an organization needs 100 employees to run successfully, and has 20 open positions, think about how much profit is being lost every day. This doesn’t even include the stress being placed on employees who have to work twice as much because the operation isn’t fully staffed.
Possible Solution: Hiring Candidates Who are “Work Experience Light”
As a result of staffing shortages, organizations might want to consider hiring candidates who have little experience or are new to the field. But the question becomes, how does the company know they are taking the right chance with the right candidate?
Cognitive aptitude tests are a type of pre-employment assessment that measures an individual’s aptitude, or ability to solve problems, digest and apply information, learn new skills, and think critically. Think of them as a signal for raw brainpower. This type of test provides an indication of what an applicant is capable of learning, rather than an assessment of their current skills.
This is probably a good time to talk about assessments in general. Traditionally, I think assessments have been considered “filters”, similar to a resume. We might scan a resume to filter out a candidate who doesn’t meet the minimum criteria for the job opening. With cognitive aptitude tests, we might need to shift the way we think about assessment scores. Instead of filtering candidates out, they can actually call attention to candidates who may be “work experience light” but are motivated and have the potential to learn.
It also means that recruiters will want to look at when assessments are administered during the hiring process. Typically, an assessment is conducted later in the hiring process. But that makes sense if the purpose of the assessment is to filter candidates.
I asked Josh Millet, CEO of Criteria Corp, about where assessments should be positioned in the hiring process. “We recommend administering tests earlier in the hiring process. If you administer them too late in the process to people you’ve already interviewed, then you’ll miss out on those high-potential/low-experience applicants who didn’t pass the resume-screening stage.”
Don’t Filter: Broaden the Talent Pipeline Using Cognitive Aptitude Tests
Millet shared with me a story from a national consumer lending firm that illustrates how cognitive aptitude tests can fill the candidate pipeline. This company was hiring loan officers. The majority of candidates didn’t have experience, but that was okay because the company sent new hires to a 4-week training program. So, the company wasn’t necessarily looking for experienced candidates. Their goal was to make sure that the candidates they were hiring had the potential to learn the initial training and pass the required licensing exams.
The company used the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) to predict which applicants were more likely to successfully complete their training. The better the candidate did on the test, the better they did in training. Now I know what some of you might be saying. While one could argue that the CCAT was used as a way to “filter out” candidates (i.e. those who scored low on the test), another way to view it is that the assessment allowed the company to broaden their candidate pipeline with people who scored high on the test.
Regardless of a candidate’s work experience, cognitive aptitude tests are one way to show the potential for candidate success. And in today’s tough recruiting environment, organizations want to know they’re making the right selection.
If you’re interested in learning more about cognitive aptitude tests and the complexities of pre-employment assessments, check out Criteria Corp’s “Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing”. I have a copy sitting on the corner of my desk. It’s a well-written resource. And be sure to follow their blog to learn even more.11