The art of accurate assessment

Updated: May 6 2014, 02:49am hrs
A Nasscom-McKinsey report states that only about 20% of Indian graduates are employable today, posing a grave challenge for companies and graduates to find the right fit. Even though the remaining 80% might hold the relevant degree and qualifications, they are still not considered well enough for recruitment. Why What exactly is lacking in the majority of our graduates that makes them unfit for the jobs they aspire for Seeking answers to this question has led the HR industry, corporates and the graduate community to rethink the entire eligibility and employment process.

Until a few years ago, candidates had to go through an assessment process, testing only their knowledge to rate them suitable or unsuitable for a particular job. But, today, the dynamics of the business world are changing and job roles are taking on a global significance. So, job aspirants need to be equipped with more than just an educational degree. They have to possess the right skills and competencies required to fit into the changing landscape. Corporates increasingly seek candidates with soft skills related to team building, communication and analytical abilities, relationship management, business development and problem solving. In such a challenging and competitive environment, the need for skill-based assessment is scaling up. Using customised assessment programmes to determine the skill-based employability of potential recruits is gaining prominence in the hiring process across sectors.

The assessment of knowledge versus skill is similar to the case of practical versus theoretical examination. Theoretical exams test the amount of information a student has, but practical exams determine whether the student knows what skills to apply, and where and how to apply them in practical situations. In some cases, skill-based assessments are sophisticated enough to evaluate the analytical thought process of a candidate in approaching the solution to a particular problem. For example, the business case study simulator can assess case analysis and decision-making skills in a candidate, which culminate as an overall measure of business acumen.

Job aspirants need to be prepared for the changing landscape of hiring assessments. They should take up practice tests where their knowledge is put to use. For programming-based roles, one needs to be more hands-on in solving problems. Concepts and their application should form an integral part of the preparation regime. There are plenty of practice tools available online.

There are few assessment companies that provide skill assessment modules that test a candidates ability to apply the knowledge that they possess in real-life practical situations. Candidates undergo skill-based assessments, based on organisational needs. Skill-based assessments for different requirements are customised according to the difficulty level. There are also dedicated simulator-based assessments available, which are slowly gaining popularity. Simulation, as most of us are aware of, is the imitation of a real-world process, model or problem on a smaller scale by adapting its key characteristics. Simulation is already a major force in the areas of aerospace and other military programmes. Its utility in the field of education and, more precisely, in the science of assessments is being realised slowly but steadily.

Skill-based assessments reduce training costs to a great extent. Using the right test to identify the right candidate can help companies reduce the time and money spent on training them post-recruitment. Lateral hires are expensive hires by nature and they are usually not too keen on taking up the assessments. In that case, assessments can be held as contests. This will also help in prospective employee engagement.

The reaction from the HR community towards the changing landscape of assessments has been positive so far and the scope is immense. Simulators will be the game-changer and will have a huge impact on the assessment and hiring process. Hence, job aspirants should focus more on the application part of knowledge.

Ketan Kapoor

The author is co-founder & CEO, Mettl, the online assessment and testing platform