What Happens When Internal Selection Can No Longer Take Place In-Person?

Adopting virtual assessments quickly to support high-profile internal assessment programs during the COVID-19 pandemic

When lockdowns around the world began, those organizations with planned in-person, in-house development centers were forced to cancel them with immediate effect. While this was essential, companies could not indefinitely stall internal promotion events. They needed to adapt – and adapt quickly.

Switching to virtual and demonstrating equivalence

Talent leaders looking to assess current employees for promotion or entry to leadership development programs faced two challenges.

The first problem faced recruiters and HR assessors alike. There was an immediate need to switch the face-to-face event to one which could run entirely virtually across technology, removing the requirement for travel and in-person contact.

This is where Aon’s expertise came to the fore. Working with clients from different industries and of varying organizational size, Aon redesigned selection processes to now include AI-augmented video interviewing, online group and individual assessment center exercises – as well finding a way to collate virtual assessor feedback.

Logistics and practical details were key – as was the need for an engaging and immersive participant experience, albeit remotely. However, paramount was making sure that any assessment remained valid and valuable.

The second challenge involved a layered overassessment redesign for those running internal promotion or development centers. Any new virtual selection process had to be equivalent to that of the previous in-person process. Current and former participants (and other stakeholders) needed reassurance that those selected using a new virtual process would be as rigorously assessed as any previous candidate. Crucially, they had to be sure that the same talent decision would have been made. It was a question of trust and confidence in the process.

This is the story of how Aon worked with one energy company to tackle these challenges.

Moving entirely to the virtual space

This global energy firm has four different levels of assessment center events, each one assessing internal candidates and their readiness for their next step in leadership development. The different assessment events assessed different levels of skills and competencies and each accessed different assessments. The firm was already using a range of online assessment with exercises and assessor observations completed within Aon’s testing platform. Now assessors needed to be able to join the development center event over the web rather than in person.

Within weeks of having to cancel in-person events, Aon had taken the content and redesigned it to run across Aon’s virtual assessment center platform. Logistically, the assessments were back on track. However, the equivalence with the previous in-person assessment events had to be proved.

Confirming equivalence

The internal talent team and participants needed to be sure of the assessment results’ reliability and to know that, regardless of how candidates were assessed, there was an equivalence in score and outcome. This impacts both the actual and perceived fairness and objectivity of the promotion process.

Aon determined the equivalence through anonymous data analysis of those different assessments used. As well as verifying equivalence with the in-person events, the analysis went further and gave the firm additional information about participants’ competency strengths – highlighting areas of general development needed.

Building a positive participant experience

Assessment result equivalence was essential. However, all stakeholders needed to perceive that the selection process was robust and equal to that of an in-person event. The firm wanted to ensure that candidates were engaged with the experience and not feel they were having any less of an assessment. As such, feedback from assessors was strengthened and greater attention paid to communication.

The result: delivering the planned assessments and enabling career progression

Moving entirely to virtual assessment events was no mean feat. Successful delivery of the project required flexibility, innovation, strong project management and attention to detail. Different skills were needed at different times: psychometric design and architecture of the assessment gave way to the detail of the logistical implementation and execution of the testing sessions. It took experience and knowledge but also collaboration, a positive attitude and the combined Aon and client team members working together to resolve issues.

The results:

  • In-person assessment centers became virtual events within weeks.
  • 540 participant assessments were planned at the start of the year – and 540 assessments took place – across 46 assessment events.
  • Equivalence was proofed between the virtual assessment events and those in-person.
  • Participants gave strong and positive feedback on the process. Nearly one-third of participants gave the maximum 10/10 score and the Candidate NPS score was a positive 31.
  • Qualitative feedback from participants was upbeat. They commented that the assessment was “very engaging”, that it offered “a beneficial and enriching experience” and that the feedback session with the assessor was “excellent” and offered “very simple but powerful tips”.
  • The firm now has a range of streamlined, virtual assessment events which benefit from the scalability that technology offers. As a standardized process, it is capable of roll-out wherever – and whenever – this global organization wishes to deploy it.

Aon has the technical capability, expertise and assessment know-how to move in-person assessment events to an entirely virtual platform, while maintaining assessment integrity, candidate engagement and internal talent team confidence in the results.

Contact us to learn more about your next steps to take advantage of technology and move your development centers to virtual events.

About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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