How the Recruitment Process Is Changing: What You Need to Know about Virtual Assessment Tools

May 11, 2020 Charlotte Schaller

This article was first published in Business Impact

The impacts of COVID-19 have changed businesses around the world dramatically and with social distancing in place, many firms are adapting their recruitment processes too. Charlotte Schaller finds out what this means for your career prospects.

Under lockdown, assessment days and in-person interviews aren’t possible, but companies can continue to hire with virtual tools. As a candidate, however, it’s best to get a good understanding of what virtual recruitment looks like and how to prepare.

Here we talk about virtual assessments and interviews, and how artificial intelligence changes processes.

Virtual assessments

Virtual or online assessments consist of several tests that measure the various abilities and characteristics of a candidate. These can include performance/aptitude tests (which measure abilities such as concentration, logical conclusions or text comprehensions) personality questionnaires (that evaluate qualities such as willingness to cooperate, ambition or sensitivity) and knowledge/skills tests (which determine a candidate’s understanding of specific professional knowledge).

Normally there are no more than five tests to take for a specific role and breaks can also be taken between the assessments, meaning you may have several days to finish them before the deadline.

However, within this timeframe, individual tests generally have a time limit. This isn’t done to give an indication of how you deal with stress, but rather, if there was no limit, all applicants would get all the answers right and have exactly the same result, making the test redundant. So, remember, it’s normal to be unable to answer all the questions in the given time.

So how can you best prepare for a virtual assessment?

Familiarise yourself with them

You don’t need any special prior knowledge to complete virtual assessments, but it is a good idea to familiarise yourself them. Watch videos online to gain an understanding how different types of tests work, their functions and design so there will be no surprises in the real thing.

Check your equipment

Most tests are suitable to be completed on smartphones and tablets – though this does vary so check in advance. Generally, however, it’s recommended you take the assessment on a PC, laptop or notebook using the latest browser version. Having a stable internet connection is also key – you want to remove stress of slow and non-responding connections midway through a timed assessment.

Besides this, other materials are generally not required – although for some tests it is useful to have a calculator or a pen and paper. For example, some of the exercises are made up of various steps and you might find it beneficial to jot down your thoughts. If any kind of aid is required, you should be informed during the test’s introduction.

Manage your nerves

Being nervous is normal. It can even have a positive effect, channelling your attention and mobilising your energy. Practicing is likely to help nerves.

Create a calm environment

Ensure there are no interruptions or distractions. Once you start a test, you can’t stop it and continue later. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure you have a quiet atmosphere and time to work through the test from beginning to end. Turn off your phone and let family or roommates know you can’t be disturbed.

Keep a steady pace

We know that individual tests are timed, so try to answer questions quickly but carefully, still attempting to avoid mistakes. Bear in mind that incorrect answers can generally have a negative effect as points are often deducted on performance tests.

Don’t worry about technical problems

In rare cases, technical problems can lead to the test suddenly being blocked, for example, if the browser crashes. Stay calm and contact the company who invited you to do the online assessment so that they can unblock the test for you to retake it later.

I have a disability – what should I do?

Special arrangements must be made by the organisation to ensure accurate and fair assessment of all candidates. In some cases, challenges can be overcome with technical aids or the right settings. Therefore, keep in contact with the company to make sure you’re properly supported.

Video interviews

Video interviews have become essential tools in hiring as they can easily take place between an interviewer and candidate with common apps such as Skype.

However, a tool which is now more widely used – but that applicants may be less familiar with – is video assessments. During video assessments, candidate responses to questions are recorded and some are scored with artificial intelligence (AI).

Video assessments are used to analyse the content of the interview using natural language classification and processing. Traditional assessment processes have shown that what people say about their past behaviour in specific real-world situations can reliably predict future behaviour and traits and skills. So, the AI looks at this but in a way that removes unconscious human bias while searching for evidence of good job-related behaviour, helping objectivity.

What are the best ways to carry out a video interview?

Mind the tech

It may seem trivial, but check simple things to ensure a smooth experience: Is your device plugged in? Sound working? Headphones handy?

Have a Plan B: Make sure the interviewer has your contact number so if the system somehow falls-over, they can then ring you directly.

Connecting with the interviewer

Try and send the right messages with virtual visual cues. For example, you won’t actually be able to make eye contact, but when you are talking, look at the little camera as it will appear that you’re speaking directly to the interviewer.

Also, distractions will be obvious to the interviewer so make sure to close down all other applications so you’re not sidetracked by incoming messages. Appear interested at all times.

Be yourself

Don’t let virtual tools obscure who you are in real life. Although you are applying for a job, recruiters still want to see the real you so they can assess how your values, behaviour and personality fit with the company. It’s easy to feel disconnected but employers want you to feel at ease and natural.

Remember that surroundings are important too. While you want to find a quiet space with nothing too obscure in the background, some family photos or personal art can help show who you are.


Overall, although there has been a shift in the way many companies are recruiting employees, don’t worry. Virtual recruitment is much like face-to-face and requires very similar steps: preparing examples, thinking about job history, wearing an appropriate outfit etc.

What may be unfamiliar is the tech. But taking the time to properly prepare can help overcome worries. Also, bear in mind that online talent assessments and video interviews are not new and have been developed to become high-quality and scientifically-sound to offer a great experience for candidates. Platforms are quicker than ever, assessments are available in a multitude of languages and processes are designed to make sure individuals are supported through the entire process.

Are you interested in reading more about video-based assessments? Click here.

About the Author

Charlotte Schaller

Charlotte joined Aon's Assessment Solutions in January 2015. Since joining she has worked across a breadth of projects including design and delivery of digital assessment and development centres, situational judgment tools, creation of online bespoke ability tests and team building workshops. She now heads the UK team; driving the growth of the UK market, managing talent and driving learning and development within the team, ensuring high quality delivery and service to their wide variety of existing clients.

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