The availability of the assessment tools is generally very broad. From the most common unstructured interviews and resumés to the job tryout procedures and work sample tests. It is not a surprise that the recruitment sphere is changing every year. Whether it is the recruitment or the candidates themselves. However, it is always a good tip to keep up with those changes in order to make your hiring process successful.

In a new Korn Ferry study that includes a sweeping country-by-country analysis, researchers found that by the year 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people. However, this does not mean that people don’t have talent. We know that everyone has talent, they just need a chance to show it.

Therefore it is important for recruiters to give everyone a chance to showcase their full potential. Choosing the right assessment tools is the key factor when it comes to the company’s future prospects, employer brand, talent acquisition, and the overall candidate’s experience.

Case-based screening

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there is a lot of ways of assessing potential candidates. All screening methods dispose of different quality, different ability to predict future job performance, different level of transparency, the diverse need of resources, and much more. Therefore we can agree that all assessment methods have different perks and drawbacks. However, some of them have more pluses and some of them have more minuses.

In the previous blog post, we talked about the meta-analysis conducted by Schmidt & Hunter in 1998, where they looked through 85 years of research findings, evaluating the predictive validity of different assessment tools.

Work sample tests in the combination with the GMA (General mental ability test) obtained the best score in the conducted meta-analysis, with a score of 0.63 on the scale from zero to one. In other words, the ability of the cases to predict a candidate’s future job performance is quite high, which is one of the biggest advantages of the case based screening itself.

What is the recruitment case?

So, before we dive more into the other perks of cases in recruitment. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly are those work sample tests or recruitment cases.

In 2006, Ployhart introduced a definition of the recruitment case which explains that it is “a test in which the applicant performs a selected set of actual tasks that are physically and psychologically similar to those performed on the job“.

So, what exactly does it mean? When you are hiring new employees, they will be introduced to a set of tasks that correspond to the tasks that are performed at the position they are applying for. For instance, a candidate applying for a sales assistant position will be asked to solve a case consisting of sales-related tasks.

The recruitment case usually consists of two – four tasks that will take 30-120 minutes for candidates to solve, depending on the complexity.

The perks of recruitment cases: Why use them?

As we mentioned before, one of the biggest advantages of using recruitment cases is their ability to predict how will the candidate perform in his/her future position. However, by using recruitment cases you can achieve even more than that. Let’s take a closer look at other perks of this assessment method.

Avoid bad hire

The survey conducted by CareerBuilder shows that nearly three in four employers are affected by a bad hire. Did you know that the average cost of one bad hire is nearly 15,000$? Employees with bad performance will affect the overall performance of the team which might lead to negative future results.

To avoid bad hires, recruiters should focus on having a broad talent pool for every job opening. As well as having a recruitment strategy that will provide them with a realistic preview of the candidate’s skill set, experience, and knowledge.

Keep the talent

As we mentioned before, the talent shortage is challenge companies have to deal with. Korn Ferry conducted another survey with 1,500 leaders around the world, and 66% of them said that there will be a shortage of talent by 2020. However, 95% of them are ensured that their company will not be experiencing any problems regarding the talent shortage.

Let’s use resumés as an example. A lot of people are familiar with the information that the majority of resumés are screened by ATS tools.

Previously, I have seen a post on LinkedIn, from a girl who was applying for a position at Spotify. Therefore, she designed her resumé in a Spotify theme and many people advised her to redo the resumé because it will not make it through the ATS.

We can agree that by using ATS tools, recruiters can actually lose talented applicants. According to CareerBuilder, the average cost of losing a good hire is nearly 30,000$. This is an example of how important it is to use appropriate screening methods that will give everyone a chance to unleash their full potential.

Candidate experience & Employer brand

Candidates preserve recruitment cases to be favorable in terms of fairness. In the two most extensive meta-analyses, recruitment cases, have been rated second overall in perceived fairness. How come? The reason is the information provided by the candidates and the company itself. Candidates will usually provide, prior to the actual solution, nothing but their email addresses. On the other hand, the company will provide candidates with a realistic job preview. That means a company is honest about the job in question as well as the challenges included.

This creates a fair and transparent recruitment process, which creates a foundation for a successful employer brand. And successful and well-managed employer brand is a key to attracting more and more applicants which also creates diversity within your workplace.

How to design a recruitment case?

The goal of each recruitment case is to get an accurate picture of each candidate’s competence level as well as provide them with a fair and transparent recruitment process with the possibility to showcase their skillset and talent.

The guide will be divided into 6 steps.

1. Job Analysis

It is important for hiring managers or recruiters to know precisely what kind of competencies they want to assess. So, the new employee will meet the required competencies in order to succeed and feel engaged within the organization. Therefore, it is important for HR managers and recruiters to clarify the context of the open job position.

The most important question to answer is: What are the goals/KPIs/criteria of success, and which tasks are the most important in the role?

However, in order to conduct a proper job analysis, it is required to answer a set of following sentences:

  1. The leadership style and competencies of the manager
  2. The team culture and competencies in the team
  3. The behaviour of other colleagues or external partners and customers
  4. Specific systems, methods, processes, and structures

Job analysis might as well include required licenses, certifications, current residence, etc. However, those factors have no direct influence on the competencies needed but it will be relevant to clarify them before beginning the recruitment process.

2. Competence mapping

It seems to be a logical thing to map the competencies you need from the new employees. However, only 24% of hiring managers have actually conducted a list of competencies required for candidates to be successful in the position they apply for.

Ask yourself: “If the new employee is to succeed in this specific context, solving these specific tasks, what are the 3-5 most important competencies they need to enter the organization with?“

Not defined competencies increase the risk of a badly marketed job position, therefore you won’t be able to target the right candidates. Which leads to a potential screening of irrelevant resumés. Competencies need to be as clearly defined, measurable and behavior-oriented as possible and described in a way that makes them assessable for recruitment cases.

3. Case framing

In order to map the competencies correctly, try to answer the following questions:

A. The recruitment process

Describe the timeline of the recruitment process and what will happen in each step. You should also consider:

A: Why did you choose this recruitment process?

B: What is the purpose of each step?

C: Who will participate in each step?

The provided information will result in candidates‘ trust in the process as well as in attracting more appropriate and right candidates.

B. The purpose of the case

Describe the purpose and reason for using this assessment method. We also suggest including the information about the data processing and their usage in the recruitment decision.

C. The competencies

As we mentioned before, candidates value a fair recruitment process and a Realistic Job Preview. And this is the way how to achieve it. Include the description of the competencies you want to assess. By doing this candidates will know what they should focus on. Which also provides you with a realistic preview of the competencies each candidate posses of.

D. The scoring

Describe the scoring process. Who will be scoring and what information of the candidates will be included? Or will it be an anonymous scoring process? If the competencies you want to assess have different weights, you should include them as well.

E. The solution format

Decide and describe the format in which you expect the solutions to be handed in.

A: Which media? (text, code, video, audio, etc.)

B: Which file format? (PPT, Excel, Word, etc.)

C: What will be the length?

It is important to keep in mind the format should be realistic. It is important to standardize the solution as much as possible, in order to avoid biased decisions based on the actual format.

F. The practicalities

Describe where, when, how, and how long will the candidates solve and deliver the case to the employer. The more details and information provided upfront, the lower is the risk of candidates being frustrated and stressed out during the recruitment process. If the candidates are lacking information, they might drop out of the case or reach out to you with questions. Which will require more resources from your side.

Case framing provides candidates with clear information about the recruitment process which also increases the trust in the process from their point of view.

4. Case task design

Now, we can move to the actual case design. We recommend focusing on three factors.

A. Fidelity

Fidelity means the degree to which the material presented and the case solution, are similar to the real-world context.

The higher the fidelity, the higher is the engagement and perception of fairness by the candidates. This is also important in terms of the actual solution, candidates can only come up with a good solution if they are provided with accurate information.

The way how they solve and deliver solutions has a significant impact when it comes to predictive validity.

B. Context

Therefore, make sure to think about context. The Context is the information you give to the candidates in order to solve the task. Your context does not have to include all of the information included in the attached visual, keep in mind it only has to include information relevant to the tasks you asked your candidates to solve. Ask yourself a question: Do candidates need this information to solve the given problem? If the answer is no, that it is not necessary to include that piece of the information.

Tip: You should always tell candidates, should they be lacking some information, that they are free to make assumptions, as long as they present them.

C. Focus

The meaning of the focus is whether the task given is considered to be broad or narrow. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage of the broad focus is the performance relevance since a job position is often a mix of different tasks, skills and competencies. The drawback of the broad focus is that it is more challenging to create specific feedback and separate competencies, it makes the result much more subjective to bias, and much harder to administer scoring to non-professionals.

Narrow focus makes it easier for you to assess the concrete competencies, create and provide them with specific feedback, and specify scoring criteria towards candidates and across reviewers.

In conclusion, the whole case task design process should be resulting from the actual job analysis. Take your answer to: “Which are the most important tasks in this role, what are the success criteria, and therefore which competencies do you need to succeed?”. Then you have to design a task that will be corresponding with the tasks that will be performed by the candidate once he/she is hired. Also, keep in mind that it should be possible to solve the task in a real-world way.

5. Case scoring design

Rating and scoring of the recruitment case are as important as the actual design. And why? Because this will be the data used while making your recruitment decision.

It is up to you to choose whether you want to rate your solutions in a numeric way, for instance from 1 to 10, or even 1 to 100, you can even use “passed” or “not passed”. It is only important to be able to distinguish between the candidates with the highest level of competence and the lower level of competence.

Don’t forget about your competencies and their different weighting. The weighting can be done by having a factor you multiply with when scoring the competencies.

We suggest avoiding scores like: “Very poor”, “Unacceptable” or “Very bad”. It will create a risk of providing a bad candidate experience.

We also recommend creating a description in a form of a table with different scores upfront. Where you for each competence and each score describe how it will be activated by the solution. This will make it easier for non-professionals and more people to judge the answers.

6. Case feedback design

Provided feedback is one of the most important things when it comes to the overall candidate‘s experience and it can also help you with building your employer brand. It has been shown that the affective well-being of rejected candidates with received feedback was significantly decreased compared to those who were rejected with no feedback.

The advice from the literature is to:

A: Provide a short and generic description of the foundation of the rating

B: Provide a detailed description of how the solution should have been to have given them a perfect score in your company, in this role in this case.

In this way, you decrease the risk of the candidates disagreeing with you.

Keep in mind that recruitment cases are extremely contextual and therefore copying cases from other companies that were seeking candidates for similar roles might give you a wrong assessment for your open job position.

As mentioned before, case-based screening brings along a lot of advantages. Building your employer brand is one of them, but don’t forget that one thing leads to another, and in the end, the case-based screening will create an actual chain that might result in the positive future prospects of your company.