Case Study:  Applicant Assessment Systems

A modern recruitment process relies heavily on technology but recognizes that the automated systems used as part of the recruitment process are a means to an end and are not a substitution for all human contact and interaction with potential candidates.

Effective communications by the recruitment specialists are critical at the initial stage of outreach to and targeting of the talent pool all the way through the hiring and onboarding processes.  Also of great significance is the quality of the underlying assessment processes used to evaluate and select candidates for referral to the hiring manager.

An organization’s mix of occupations demands a recruitment approach that is flexible and open to customization, easily understood by candidates with diverse skill mix, up-to-date on the latest technology applications, linked to social media, and cognizant of the consequences of selection decisions on the specific organization and agency.  At the same time, Federal staffing must adhere to Merit System Principles and basic federal rules for veteran’s preference and other factors.  The primary goal of any recruitment process that includes automated hiring systems and other technology applications should be to ensure the highest degree of quality of referrals and selections and not other outcomes, such as reduced costs or fewer HR specialist resources.  

Automated staffing systems should not become replacements for effective recruitment programs and activities.

Lindholm & Associates, Inc. has had extensive experience working with (Monster Hiring Management, USAStaffing, NGA, Taleo, Avue, Resumix, all leaders in federal recruitment and hiring systems.  Our team clearly knows the advantages and disadvantages of each system.  

A good recruitment process combines more than one assessment method, ensuring the validity of the process is at the highest levels.  Use of any of the basic functions of any of the existing intake systems serves to only screen for training and experience (T and E) which, in and of itself, has low validity particularly when not used to measure a candidate’s behaviors and accomplishments against established criteria.  

In some ways, all of these systems share common functions: 

Initial screening of poor candidates

Review for minimum qualifications, and

Reducing the number of applicants to a manageable qualified pool

While most systems include a variety of assessment questions (such as Yes/No, multiple choice, multiple answer/multiple choice, etc.), additional assessment approaches (such as computer based testing, structured interviews, work samples, writing examples, etc.) offer far greater chance of attracting the best candidates.

Recruitment starts with decisions on which and how specific outreach activities should be exercised.  Reliance on job announcements, career boards and other sources of job information is probably far short of sufficient to meet an agency’s goals.  To be able to attract the best candidates with the most likely chance of successful performance on the job, a commitment must be leverage a full range of assessment methods.


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