Design Trends in Talent Assessment

November 7, 2019 Ave Shalom

“Design thinking” is a concept that’s often tossed around in business, but that doesn’t mean it’s always understood or implemented well.

Design thinking at its core describes an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge our assumptions and redefine problems in pursuit of novel solutions to business problems. While user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) play a role in design thinking, it’s only part of the overall model.

This gap in application means there are still plenty of opportunities to pursue user-centric, analytically informed design in improving talent assessments. Thirty years ago, psychometric tests were primarily a pen-and-paper exercise. Then personal computers shoved them aside. Now we’re seeing a new crop of emerging technologies changing the way we think about assessment, particularly on mobile devices. And design thinking is integral to that shift.

But while we may see design thinking as only about the visual design, the reality is that its value comes from helping clarify user intent and creating an enhanced experience. Here’s how to apply design thinking to improve your assessments.

Go Beyond ‘Looking Nice’

Design in this context goes much deeper than choices about colors and shapes of buttons. Trends come and go. What matters is that you build an infrastructure that’s malleable and created with intent.

The goal should be to build a tool that achieves the objective in a reliable, efficient way. It means taking advantage of the way technology allows candidates and employers to feed data back and forth to each other in real time to create tools that better meet the needs of both.

With assessments, this also means balancing two often-contradictory aims:

Generally speaking, the longer and more structured an assessment is, the more valid it is. But few candidates have the patience to endure a completely thorough assessment. They generally prefer shorter assessments, in natural settings.

Striking this balance is both an art and a science. And design thinking can help employers get that balance right.

Emphasize the Candidate Experience

Designed well, assessments can contribute to an extraordinary candidate experience that communicates the values of the organization and fits the employer brand.

That kind of experience can protect a brand’s overall reputation, with consumers and with candidates, by making it more likely that people will talk about your company in a positive way regardless of the end result. Social media has amplified the power of word-of-mouth influence, which means that giving a candidate a good experience often has a cascading effect.

In creating assessments, the goal should be to use design thinking to give candidates something that's easy, intuitive and enjoyable to complete. They should gain something from the exchange, such as insight into their skill set and career possibilities. The tests should be based on adaptive scoring techniques that match questions perfectly to that specific candidate, making them feel challenged but not overwhelmed.

The setting should feel natural, akin to the apps they use in everyday life. Ideally, it should feel so natural that candidates won’t need instruction on what to do. Applying for a job can be a stressful experience, and assessments can be daunting and overwhelming. But if you can present candidates with something that feels familiar and comfortable, it helps them relax. They're more engaged and it’s easier to get a true assessment of their personality, skills and aptitude for the role.

Build Elegant Tools for Hiring Managers, Too

Candidates aren’t the only side of this equation. Assessment tools must also be designed to meet the needs of the talent professionals who rely on them every day.

While people haven’t always had the same level of expectations for their workplace software, that mindset is changing in HR tech. People now expect the same high level of intuitiveness and user-centered design in their work software as in the applications they use in their personal lives.

Thoughtful design for talent professionals follows all of the same principles that we follow to guarantee candidates a positive experience. Done well, it results in elegant, intuitive dashboards that allow them to pull the right data at the right time, empowering them to focus on the human side of their jobs.

If you want to get to know more design trends in talent assessment, we recommend this white paper "How Design Thinking is Transforming the Future of Talent Assessment".

About the Author

Ave Shalom

Ave Shalom is the Creative Director for Assessment Solutions within the Human Capital Resources business at Aon. Ave has 20 years of experience as a creative strategist, designer, and online solution developer. She has been a subject matter expert for design-driven software development and for design thinking as an aspect of human resource planning. Ave’s role at Aon involves working with product and marketing teams to create brand compliant yet novel approaches to UX/UI and marketing practices. She directs design and creative strategy for the Assessment Solutions business and contributes to content creation and ideation for both future-forward and in-the-now projects. Prior to joining Aon, she worked for Modern Survey and contracted at Ameriprise Financial. She owned a web and graphic design business, Valley Hill Design and taught digital media courses at Bethel University.

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