The Talent Scout Episode 25: Types and benefits of candidate testing
4 minutes | Posted 20 August, 2020

This post is written by our Recruitment Marketing Senior Leader, Shane Keane.
I think a lot of us are very guilty of thinking that we are highly intuitive. We often come to a conclusion about a person very quickly after first meeting them and we trust that this opinion is in fact truth. I know that I like to consider myself a highly empathetic, intuitive, and emotionally intelligent person to the point that I often think I’m capable of “reading” a person and knowing who they are. It’s in recent years that I’ve started to practice checking that line of thought by reminding myself that subconscious bias exists and that the way someone presents themselves on the first meeting is not necessarily a true representation of who they are.

Be careful of your biases

These gut feelings and intuition are ever-present when we are recruiting candidates and if we listen to them during our interview process instead of fully assessing our candidates it’s very easy to fall into the trap of a bad hire who interviews well. When we interview candidates, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, we’re often appraising them on 3 main criteria to establish their ability to perform on the job.

  1. The first of these areas can be called “Appears To”. This is the candidate’s appearance, pose, dress sense, mannerisms and expressiveness, as well as their interests and goals. It’s the area that really has the least impact on a candidate’s ability to be effective in a role and yet it’s the area that most of our gut feeling is based on.
  2. The second of these areas has a greater impact on a candidate’s ability to be effective in a role and can be called “Can do”. This area refers to a candidate’s knowledge and skills, their training and education, and their experience. Typically a resume gives us this information and we confirm this or dig a little bit deeper into this during an interview.
  3. The third of these areas can be referred to as “Will do” and this is the area that has the biggest impact on a candidate’s ability to be effective in a role. This area refers to a candidate’s attitudes and beliefs, internal motivation, stability and persistence, maturity, intelligence, aptitude, and temperament. These are things that we like to believe we’re all really effective at assessing in an interview but the truth is we’re not. We get caught up in our own biases and false truths from past experiences causing us to draw conclusions about people that simply aren’t true.

Now this isn’t an argument against the interview process that we all know. Instead it’s an argument to improve it by combining it with different forms of candidate testing allowing you to make sure you’ve truly seen everything a candidate has to offer.

Types of testing

There is a huge volume of different tests you can avail of to round out your interview process and give you more insight into how your candidate fairs in terms of “Can do” and “Will do”. Some examples are numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning tests to establish the strengths and weaknesses of candidates in these areas and back up some of their educational and experiential claims.
Situational Judgement assessments allow you to perceive how a candidate approaches various scenarios in the workplace by presenting them with a scenario and asking them how they’d likely respond from a multiple choice of options. This can be useful if a candidate is moving from a similar role or industry towards your organisation but if the role is brand new to the candidate, you likely will not glean much of use here.
Most of the testing I’ve mentioned covers the “Can do” section that we discussed but doesn’t cast must insight on the aptitudes presented by the “Will do” section. To gain an understanding of a candidate’s “Will do” our best avenue of approach is personality and psychometric testing.

The benefits of using candidate testing in your recruitment process

I imagine some of you may have rolled your eyes when I mentioned personality tests, certainly the personality test debate is a decades-old dilemma that HR professionals have been pondering for a significant amount of time now. But not only is it useful as a selection tool by giving you insight into how your prospective new hire will perform on the job, it can also be an effective tool for employee retention. In fact, using personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (also known as MBTI) of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) may help you better understand your team, the way they think, and who they’ll work well with.
Myers Briggs testing and HBDI testing are both personality tests that we offer to our clients, but equally, everyone who joins our organisation undergoes at least one of these tests. It can certainly have a powerful impact on a workplace to better understand how your colleagues work and think, and that has certainly been my experience of these specific tests.
There are no right or wrong outcomes when it comes to the results of a personality test. But as I’ve been saying throughout, the findings can help you build a better idea of your prospective candidate beyond just a gut feeling.
This in turn will allow you to separate the “ok hires” that will coast within your organisation from the “excellent hires” that will drive your organisation forward. Similarly, personality testing may help you increase employee retention within your organisation by allowing both management and the greater team to become aware of the different ways that other people think, better understand how other people operate and work best, and understanding where personality clashes may occur and how best to resolve them.
Using testing is not a sure-fire way to make an excellent hire. But it is a means of removing incorrect bias from your interview process and getting a more robust idea of who your candidates are. If you’ve never used candidate testing before I suggest introducing it as part of your final shortlist process to start with, once you have those three top candidates that you’re moving forward with – use testing to see if someone stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Equally, if you’ve never used candidate testing of any form before and you’re not sure where to start then reach out to us here at Scout Talent, we’ve carried out testing on candidates on behalf of hundreds of clients and we’d be more than happy to assist you in showcasing the best that your candidates have to offer.
If you need support with candidate testing, please reach out to us at or call us on 1300 366 573.
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