What are talent assessments?

What are talent assessments?

Organizations and companies use different methods to approach hiring. Most of the time, their decision to create an internal HR department and, thus, pause any other temporary recruitment effort they might have been leveraging to date naturally follows the company’s positive growth. That includes relying on a third party HR consultancy or delegating hiring to managers. That is to say, as headcount increases over time, companies have no other choice but to focus on a more strategic approach of managing human resources. However, regardless of the process and/or strategy they follow, there are plenty of methods and tools to help efficiently assess candidates and personnel. One way to accomplish that is with the help of  talent assessments.  

What are talent assessments?

Talent assessments are HR assessment tools that help companies get a better understanding of the people they currently work with; or the ones they plan to work with in the near future — their new hires. The evaluation may involve assessing skills, behaviors, working styles, cognitive abilities, personality traits and attributes. In fact, this assessment effort is concentrated on evaluating how these aforementioned parameters align with parameters related to a specific role or company values.

In doing so, companies manage to make more well-informed decisions related to recruitment or human resources management, as a whole. These may involve evaluating and/or predicting job performance, potential and cultural fit of employees and employees-to-be accordingly. And the way to achieve that is by uncovering people’s hidden qualities; or their capacity to develop desirable qualities and abilities in the future. This helps companies not only take hiring decisions, but also set up strategies that support employees’ growth. This, consequently, results in a win-win situation, for both employees and the company; that is, as employees’ future success is correlated to what they can offer to the company. 

What are talent assessments used for?

As mentioned above, talent assessments are helpful, not only during the hiring process. They can also support the entire employee lifecycle, efficiently. Here’s how: 

Using talent assessment in hiring

Hiring is a challenging task for companies; and talent assessments help both HR professionals and non-HR experts, in the following ways:

1. Verify the accuracy of candidates’ resumes

Examining CVs is the first step of the recruitment process. Candidates send a brief summary of their education and employment experience, related to the job description specs. All this information serves to justify their intention to get the job. Part of that information can be validated in a relatively easy way. However, HR managers who screen these docs cannot tell whether candidates really have the skills they claim in their CVs or not. The solution is simple, as we’ll explain below. With the help of talent assessments, they can make sense of candidates’ claims and yield actual results. 

2. Decide whether a candidate fits for the job

There will be cases where, when the skills candidates claim to have can be validated. But, that alone won’t necessarily mean they can offer the company what is needed. To put it in another way, HR managers — or other people responsible for recruitment — need to make sure the people who will finally join their teams will indeed bring value; and that they have the skills for that particular job position. With the help of talent assessment tools — job-focused assessments, in particular — companies can make informed decisions as to whether candidates actually fit in. That is also helpful in case they don’t; they may be a good fit for another job position that needs to be filled.

3. Recruit for cultural fit

A candidate with great skills and considerable experience relevant to the role in question may, at times, not be the ideal choice. Consider this: roles are not separate and siloed; people work as members on a team. Simply put, companies are made of teams and teams have their own unique culture. And it’s that culture, which translates into a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices, that helps groups of people work together efficiently. Candidates’ compatibility — or ability to adapt — to the existing culture is what will define their future in the company. Candidates that are compatible with the company’s culture, will manage to collaborate with partners efficiently; and will also build healthy professional relationships. Both of these are prerequisites for a company’s success.

4. Eliminate mistakes and hire nothing less than perfect-fit candidates

Ensuring that candidates-to-hire have the required skills and are relatively likely a cultural fit is not enough; not for companies that have no other option than hiring the best. To further explain, fast-pacing companies need not only increase their headcount, but also further accelerate their growth. To achieve that, they usually follow a talent acquisition strategy; one that focuses on identifying and acquiring skilled candidates that will meet both company’s current and future increased needs. Long story short, talent assessments are of vital importance as they help HR managers create shortlists of the perfectly-fit candidates.

5. Carry out a mass hiring plan

There are cases of organizations and companies that need to expedite their recruitment efforts; that is, to hire a large number of employees in a tight timeframe, for any reason. To that end, such companies need tools that can help in that direction. So, with that goal in mind, a fast-screening process can be much more efficient. Using the right talent assessment tools, HR managers can evaluate candidates efficiently; and, thus, provide trustworthy results.

Using talent assessments to evaluate employees

A business may use talent assessments to evaluate existing team members, with the following goals in mind: 

1. Identify employees with high leadership potential

It’s not unusual for businesses to occasionally — or strategically — focus on upskilling and/or reskilling a number of employees. So, that usually happens when there’s a strategic plan that requires some of them assuming managerial roles. To select the most suitable employees that will finally fill these roles, requires companies to use the proper assessment tools. To that end, talent assessments help evaluate the personality traits pertinent to each individual; as well as other crucial personality aspects of their leaders-to-be.

2. Promote employee growth

Employees’ continuous training is a major priority for companies that need to drive forward, toward success. Complementing their skill helps both reduce turn over and attract new talent. A prerequisite for successful training is understanding employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Talent assessments help in that direction, as they assist in identifying these elements; and also in giving insights, regarding the current readiness of each employee. This way, companies are able to focus on the appropriate training forms, for each one of their employees; and, of course, further establish an efficient development strategy.

3. Planning succession 

Companies and organizations need to prepare in advance as to how they’re going to fill the gaps created, when employees withdraw. An employee may withdraw due to one of the following reasons:

  • they decided to move on to new environment 
  • retirement — an inevitable scenario
  • unexpected illness or death

To ensure business continuity, companies focus on identifying team members that are the most suitable to replace them. In the same fashion, it is equally important to evaluate the person/role that is about to withdraw, too. Talent assessments help in that direction; they give insightful estimations regarding the skills and traits these people need to have, in order to pick up the torch.

4. Survive and recover from a crisis 

Crises put companies under a lot of pressure. They need to act quickly and identify ways that will help them maintain positive interactions and efficiently handle any performance issues that may arise. Talent assessments help in this direction, as they provide the tools to analyze behaviors and skills, accordingly.

Categories of talent assessments

Work Samples

One of the most effective talent assessments employers and HR people use mostly in the beginning of the recruitment process, is work samples. Using work samples, companies are able evaluate a candidate’s ability to perform specific tasks; of course, these are tasks pertinent to the role they’re going to take on. In particular, work samples are ideal for evaluating the skills and capabilities required from candidates, when selected for that particular job position. That goes to say, the evaluation looks for competencies they will not have the time to develop over time, with training.

Personality tests

Another useful type of talent assessments most companies use is personality tests. Using a relevant software solution HR managers are able to evaluate each candidate’s or each employee’s personality profile, individually. Personality tests are usually available online. Alternatively, they may focus on specific traits against which they can evaluate each person.

Personality questionnaires come either in the form of rating statements (candidates rate themselves, using scaled traits) or in the form of statements that correspond to hypothetical scenarios.

Using personality tests (usually) HR managers are able to firstly create shortlists of candidates; and then select the candidates that are, most likely, the best fit for a particular job or team. Furthermore, they’re able to identify weaknesses, strengths, needs and attributes that will help them make more informed decisions; at least, as to how they’ll manage to promote team building within their organization. In the same way, they’ll have all the information they need to apply their training strategies; and make decisions, as to how they will promote or move people around, on rotating rosters.

Behavioral assessments

Behavioral assessments help uncover core job-specific drives and needs, and also assist in revealing behavioral patterns. All of these findings are helpful, as they give managers insightful information as to how they should manage their personnel. That goes to say, by identifying people with potential to succeed in specific roles, they’re able to proceed with the right promotions; or make the proper changes on their roster.

Cognitive Ability tests

Also known as cognitive assessments, cognitive ability tests are intelligence tests that measure cognitive abilities; these help HR managers make decisions over what hire will be the best. Cognitive ability is considered to be an unbiased and reliable predictor of a candidate’s potential to succeed in a specific role.

Managers use cognitive tests to evaluate, among other things, a candidate’s logic, ability to work with information and reasoning. The evaluation of a candidate’s reasoning may refer to verbal, math, spatial or any other type of intelligence aspect, pertinent to a particular role. Needless to say, a candidate’s cognitive abilities can also help evaluate and predict how they will respond to challenges they’ll be faced with. More specifically, it’s their cognitive scores that will define their ability to process information and learn new things, to identify problems and come up with solutions and, generally, adapt to their new work environment.


Talent assessments are HR assessment tools that help companies and organizations make well-informed decisions in hiring and managing human resources. They provide insightful information regarding people’s — both candidates and employees — profiles, including skills, abilities, behaviors and their capacity to further self-develop and improve on what they can bring to the table. Companies have a long list of assessment types at their disposal, to choose from; that is, from work samples and behavioral assessments to personality tests and cognitive assessments. The majority of these solutions are offered online. With the help of such tools, companies can succeed in promoting their employee’s growth and in driving their business forward.