There can be as much as a 400% difference in output between an organisation’s average performers and their top talent according to research set out in the Harvard Business Review. Alongside these staggering differences, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation estimate the typical cost of an unsuitable hire is £132k. These figures emphasise the critical role of Talent Acquisition in recruiting the right talent into the organisation and the impact that this can have on the performance of the organisation. It also highlights the potential benefits that can be achieved from placing a strong emphasis on assessing talent and ensuring organisational fit within your recruitment process.

Truly successful recruitment depends on the ability to accurately identify those individuals with the talents needed by the organisation. Best practice in assessment can make the difference between recruiting someone who turns out to be an average performer and uncovering the hidden gem who becomes part of your top talent. This involves creating an assessment funnel to enable you to might the right selection decision. A typical assessment funnel is show below:

Putting in place an effective assessment strategy ensures a well-considered and proportionate approach to assessing talent, rather than responding to assessment needs on an ad-hoc basis. An assessment strategy should set out your approach to assessment that will be applied across the organisation. If appropriate it should be supported by policies relating to use of psychometrics. In this article, we set out 10 of the most important questions you should ask about your assessment strategy.

1. Does the performance framework you assess set out the behaviours that are critical to future success?

Good practice in assessment is typically founded on a behaviourally-defined performance framework such as strengths, competencies, capabilities or values that the organisation wishes to see in its top talent. However, if your framework was developed some time ago, or was developed with a focus on current or past behaviours, then it may not reflect the behaviours you need going forward. It may be worth reviewing whether your framework reflects more future-focused behaviours such as the need for innovation, effective use of technology and the move towards more agile ways of working.

2. What is your core assessment solution?

Identifying the core methods that you expect hiring managers to use may be as straight-forward as setting out the assessment methods that you recommend for each stage of the assessment funnel from initial screening through to final selection. For many organisations, this will be an CV screening followed by screening interviews and a final face to face interviews. It is important to establish the minimum requirements that all hiring managers are expected to apply and ensure you are providing the tools and training to deliver them. It may also be helpful to consider whether other assessment tools can add value to your recruitment process and improve the quality of hire.

3. How do you tailor your approach to assessment for higher stakes roles?

Roles can be higher stakes because of the volume of recruitment activity, the level of the role or the importance of the role to achieving your strategy. Frontline customer-facing positions, your Early Career proposition and Senior manager and Executive roles are examples of areas that you may wish to develop a different, more tailored assessment solution to your core approach. These roles are likely to be where investing in a truly bespoke assessment solution is likely to add the most value to the organisation.

4. Have you put the candidate at the centre of your assessment strategy?

Increasingly businesses are recognising candidates as potential customers and that receiving a negative candidate experience will clearly impact on their perception of the organisation.  Putting the candidate at the centre of your assessment strategy involves considering the candidate experience in relation to all aspects of the process including the assessments themselves, the end to end candidate journey, candidate feedback mechanisms and any communication relating to the assessment process.

5. Are you managing the risks associated with your assessment strategy?

There are some obvious risks associated with assessment such as the collection and storage of sensitive personal information that clearly needs to be GDPR compliant and ensuring legal compliance with employment legislation such as the Equality Act. Alongside of these, there are additional risks that are not always considered such as the impact on brand reputation and business performance caused by mistakes made by poor hires.

6. Is your assessment strategy aligned to your approach to candidate attraction?

Assessment simply can’t take place without sourcing and attraction strategies that create the flow of candidates into your assessment funnel. During the sourcing and attraction phase it is necessary to present the role, organisation and the employer brand positively in order to generate a pipeline of potential candidates. It is important to ensure that the transition from attraction to assessment is seamless, both in terms of candidate experience and branding, and that the assessment process doesn’t detract from the messages of the attraction phase.

7. Does your assessment strategy support your diversity and inclusion agenda?

A key area where organisations can advance the diversity and inclusion agenda is in ensuring their recruitment process is fair and objective. A robust and objective assessment solution should help to drive fairness within your recruitment process and tackle any bias. As well as ensuring that you monitor adverse impact, it is vital that action is taken to ensure your recruitment process is consciously inclusive. For example, looking at whether an inclusive approach has been taken to identifying the behaviours set out within your performance framework.

8. What assessment partners should you be working with?

From psychometric distributors, video interview and assessment platforms and applicant tracking systems through to consultancy services and training providers, there are a number of suppliers you may need to partner with in order to develop a robust approach to assessment. The choice of the right suppliers can help to enhance your ability to accurately identify candidates who have the talents you need. It is also important that they adopt a partnership approach to fully understand your needs and develop solutions that are tailored to your requirements. The cost of bringing in specialist partners can quickly be recovered by

9. What training and support do you provide to ensure assessments are properly implemented?

Even the most reliable and robust assessment solution depends on being implemented effectively. Whilst Talent Acquisition professionals are often experienced in identifying candidates with the right knowledge, skills and abilities needed to deliver a role, the final selection decision typically sits with the hiring manager. If they have little or no experience in interviewing or assessing, this may introduce a risk that the final decision-making process may be less effective. For example, training can help to reduce the impact of unconscious bias by applying best practice in objective assessment.

10. How do you monitor the effectiveness of your assessment strategy?

Whilst metrics relating to speed of hire, fulfilment are clearly key to monitoring the effectiveness of your recruitment process, measures that examine quality of hire and longer-term retention are also critical to ensuring that you are selecting top talent and avoid a revolving door of candidates who are not a good fit with the organisation. Candidates are also more likely to have a positive impression of the organisation if they feel that a robust approach to assessment has been followed. Consideration should also be given to how costs are monitored including the opportunity costs associated with time spent by hiring managers. Without putting in place ways of measuring the impact of effective recruitment and all the true costs involved, assessment can end up being seen simply as additional cost and not as a tool for helping the organisation achieve its strategic objectives.

This article sets out some of the most important questions to ask about your assessment strategy. It represents just some of the areas we have supported clients explore. If you would like to find out more about our assessment services please visit or contact us at

Please comment on other questions you would ask or which question you would like us to explore further in our next article.


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