Re-thinking graduate assessment.

Changes in graduate career-seeking behaviour, advances in technology and ever-stretched recruitment resources have led to a radical re-think of graduate assessment and selection.

Graduate assessment is now shorter, online, paperless, engaging and helps focus on the right candidates very early on. The graduate selection processes of 'yesteryear' built around application forms, paper-based numerical and verbal reasoning tests (taking 30 minutes to complete!) and resource intensive assessment centres, are over.

There is a better way! Graduate assessment must be short, online, paperless and focus on the right people very early on. Or graduates will vote with their feet.

Read about the 7 key facts on which graduate assessment of today is now built. 

Fact #1

Graduate assessment must be engaging

There is real competition for top graduate talent. You can no longer get away with just gathering in applications and the only communication with applicants is the yes/no letter (could you ever get away with that?). On top of this, you cannot simply use the same assessments as every other company hiring. It doesn't differentiate you and ‘assessment fatigue’ kicks in. 

Keep your organisation ‘front of mind’ for those you want to hire by making the time they spend with you as engaging as possible. But what does this mean? It’s about finding a way to interact with your applicants, treating them as individuals and including recruitment tests that keep them interested – and avoid the weariness of ‘here we go again'!

You’ll need to take a look at the design of your whole graduate recruitment programme but pay attention to the graduate assessment that you include. Ask yourself: will it engage, or disengage, your applicants?

When selecting the assessments to use:

  • Make sure the application can be completed on a mobile – after all, that’s where candidates spend their time!
  • Use a modern, contemporary look and feel – reject the traditional, somewhat staid visuals, but don’t fall into the trap of making it a ‘game’ (we’ll come to that later)
  • Use quick-to-complete tests – modern psychometrics now enable tests and questionnaires to generate a reliable score quickly.
  • Design an application process that reflects your company – nothing engages graduates more than seeing what working with you would be like.
  • Include assessments that look like they measure what they are meant to measure – face validity and robust psychometrics are essential (more about this further on)

Fact #2

Graduate assessment isn’t a game, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ‘serious’!

Graduate applicants want to be taken seriously. It’s a big time for them; the start of their career. So why the trend for games in graduate recruitment? Graduates want an engaging experience. But is shooting aliens or sailing the pirate seas the right approach?

Graduates want a job relevant experience. Shooting aliens or sailing pirate seas is too much 'game' in a high-stake situation. But, level progression and interactive challenges with immediate feedback are gaming elements which really enhance assessments. 

Research* shows that with gamified graduate assessments:

  • 91% candidates are left with an overall impression that is equal to or better than the traditional assessment format. 
  • 94% say that the tests engage applicants and 90% say that they reflect the hiring company's brand – as well as, or better than traditional assessment.
  • 86% report being taken seriously and treated fairly using such gamified assessments.

Research shows that candidates like good gamified assessment within their graduate recruitment process

*Research with over 500 assessment-experienced, millennial candidates compared perceptions of traditional assessment with gamified assessment series smartPredict.


Fact #3

Graduate assessment only works when you are crystal clear about what makes for success in your business

Good quality numerical and verbal reasoning tests can highlight which of your applicants have the abilities you know you need. And that’s important. But if you add in an element of behaviour or personality, and you get a more complete picture of how they’ll fit in and approach work in your particular business.

To find out what your business needs, think about your values, your culture, the people you want working for you. Understand what makes for success on the graduate programme – and success beyond the programme. When you know what’s needed, find a way to identify this in your graduate applicants. 

As an example, you may have worked hard to identify the corporate values and competencies for your organisation and are encouraging these to filter across the work you do.

Think of the upside of hiring new graduates who understand and align with these values: they’re likely to establish themselves more quickly and get promoted rapidly.

Fact #4

Graduate assessment needs to be inclusive and open to all

You need to use graduate assessment that is scientifically proven not to have bias for, or against, any groups of applicants - and shows those who have the potential to fit with your business.

With this in place, your graduate applicant pool widens - and helps you to bring in a diverse cohort of graduates.

Fact #5

Graduate assessment impacts your employer brand

You want to stand out from the crowd - and be remembered for giving your applicants a positive experience. That’s a tough thing to do when all the graduate recruiters are doing the same thing!

Think about what can make your selection process different. Competency-based video interviewing? A messaging-app test? Doing away with paper at your assessment centre?

In fact, research with an international consumer brands organisation using gamified tests reported that 90% of applicants say that gamified assessments reflected the hiring company as well as or better than other assessments they experienced.

Real-life examples: 

  • Rolls-Royce deployed a gamified assessment based around typical situations or scenarios in its business. Candidates were asked to make judgements about what to do via a messaging app style of communication via their mobile. It gave Rolls-Royce a robust situational judgement score, and the candidates a strong insight into the role.

  • Nationwide commissioned the design and development of an escape-room type of assessment helping it to stand out from its competitors, provide an innovative experience for its candidates and deliver efficiencies to its internal teams. 

90% of graduate candidates like gamified tests and think they give as good as or better reflection of the hiring company

90% of graduate candidates think gamified tests give as good as or better reflection of the hiring company*

*cut-e research with international consumer brands organisation

Fact #6

Graduate assessment needs to be unique to your organisation

There are way too many sites and forums on which graduate applicants ask for and get help on the graduate assessment process for top graduate recruiters. Practice tests are fine. Candidates need to know what to expect (it calms the nerves, helps them to perform and lets you see them at their best). 

But there comes a time when candidates know ‘too much’ before the assessment – and you want to give them something a little bit different from anything else they’ve completed.

Psychometrics today allow test developers to create banks of items from which to build a test ‘on the fly’. It means that you get all the reliability and robustness you need from the test as well as a fresh, new test just for a specific candidate. You can also customise graduate assessment not just to include your logo and corporate colours, but to showcase what it’s like to work with you. This increases knowledge of and engagement with your business and encourages those who are not sure about working with you, to remove themselves from – or drop out of – the process.


Fact #7

Graduate assessment must not compromise psychometric quality

Valid and robust psychometric assessments are an essential component of graduate selection.

Below are 10 questions to ask of your assessment so you can spot high quality psychometrics.

Is your graduate assessment:

  1. Objective in how it is administered, scored and interpreted?

  2. Reliable, accurate and consistent over time – and offers dependable results?

  3. Valid: does it measure what it is designed to measure?

  4. Differentiating: does a stronger candidate receive a higher test score than a weaker candidate?

  5. Providing value for money: are the costs relatable to a benefit?

  6. Standardised and offers comparison with normative or benchmark groups?

  7. Useful: does the psychometric assessment add clear value to the talent process?

  8. Accepted by candidates?

  9. Cheat-resistant? Candidates must not be able to distort or fake test scores.

  10. Transparent and fair: is the test and testing process clear and fair to all and do the candidates get appropriate feedback? 

Call us to talk about how we can power your graduate recruitment.

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