hr potentials blog

Finally a reality: Effectively assessing hundreds of candidates from the comfort of their homes!

Published on by Rok Andrée, CTO

Augmenting hiring practices with psychological assessment leads to improved employee productivity. Once a company recognizes that it faces another significant challenge.

The traditional in-person psychological assessment can be slow, costly, and an immense burden for job candidates and existing employees.

Why is a traditional assessment so burdensome?

My colleague, a psychologist, has already gone into great detail about the issues, drawbacks, and potential of the traditional in-person and remote assessment in a previous blog post.

But to summarize: to obtain reliable results, candidates must have a controlled environment, free from distractions and interruptions. This is usually achieved by having them come to the employers assessment center. There, the assessment is administered, either on paper or digitally, with materials or equipment provided by the administrators of the assessment.

There must surely be a better way, right?

We have the technology …

Let's imagine a candidate conducting the psychological assessment from the comfort of their home and at a time of their choosing. What requirements do we need to create an environment that mimics that of a potential employer's office and replicates the presence of a psychologist?

The first requirement is to be able to see the candidate and their room. This will ensure that they are engaged and not disturbed by anyone else or anything. For this, a camera is all that is needed. Revolutionary, I know.

However, the camera alone may not be sufficient to prevent cheating on it’s own. Another way that a person may try to cheat is through verbal communication. This can be tackled by adding a microphone to the room.

But a crafty person may be able to show another person their answers, written on a piece of paper. Imagine the other person sitting out of view and the candidate communicating with them by writing on paper on the table, away from the camera view. Here is where the human eye can tell if someone is cheating. Administrators or reviewers can detect where someone is looking and it's easy to spot when somebody is taking a peek at something off-screen. Though they may be able to get away with a few answers, it's very difficult to cheat enough to make a difference with a large number of questions and the time limits imposed.

Additionally, by using computer-generated tests with items being different each time, the possibilities of cheating become nearly impossible. The devious plans are now surely foiled.

Not yet. The assessment is conducted on a computer and we expect the candidates to be looking at their screens. Why not just cheat using the computer? The candidates might be tempted to open a chat window or look for answers using the web. Screen monitoring is, thus, a necessity. This is again nothing revolutionary. We all know it by another name: “screen sharing” when using popular video calling apps, such as Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet.

… a viable implementation …

So now we need to implement these solutions. With the advent of the (now mostly standardized) web and its interactive applications, we can avoid the impracticality of asking hundreds of candidates to install programs on their computers. We can save time and eliminate the need for a small army of tech support agents.

We’ve all seen the success of web-based video calling applications, which utilize the camera, microphone, and screen share capabilities of browsers. While the implementation still requires some less-than-popular work from the programmers, the users will be spared from the ordeal.

You may be thinking - wow, that was easy! Well, it was, more or less. But the hard part isn’t collecting the information. The hard part is reviewing it in a timely and cost-effective way.

After obtaining the audiovisual recordings, we still have to carefully monitor them for any anomalies. This process can be done manually by certified reviewers going through the entire recording. This is not only time-consuming and counterproductive; instead of one person monitoring all the candidates at once, they are now monitoring them one by one.

Partial or fully automated monitoring is required. A long list of analyses can and are beening done with traditional computer science tools. However, one would not go amiss by leveraging the AI advancements of the past few years.

So most of the technology has been around for a while now. What changed?

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… and the willingness of candidates!

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise and virtually all workers suddenly had to equip their home computers with cameras and become acquainted with video conferencing software. Furthermore, the concept of recording oneself in front of the computer quickly became normalized.

What’s more, this is not just a theory - we’ve tested it and proven that it works. We have been extremely surprised by just how well the candidates have accepted monitoring as part of the remote assessment. We have not detected any change in the number of candidates who refuse the psychological assessment nor received any complaints from the candidates.

Psychological assessment not only boosts productivity but also promotes job satisfaction and fairness in hiring processes. I see no reason why mass assessment (i.e., assessing dozens or hundreds of applicants) will not soon become the norm in the industry.

We put it into practice!

At HR Potentials, we have put the theory into practice with TestAnywhere. Currently, this tool is only integrated into our psychological assessment platform, but can easily be integrated into an assessment platform of any type.

After working out the many platform-specific kinks, we have devised a solution that works seamlessly, no matter the combination of hardware, software, or abilities of your candidates.

If you want to try it out, contact our representative and they’ll arrange a free demo for your company.