Blog Article

Why You Need to be Testing for More than Just Computer Skills

Computer skills

Most office jobs today require computer skills – from typing and web browsing, to Word and Excel. When it comes to hiring for these roles, then, it makes perfect sense to seek out candidates who have these skills by using technical assessments.

This is a great approach, and will yield an improvement in your hiring results. However, testing for computer skills alone is a missed opportunity. Based on decades of research on job success outcomes, we actually know that testing candidates for qualities such as personality and cognitive aptitude, in combination with computer skills, will yield a better hiring outcome.  

How to Evaluate Candidates Beyond Just Computer Skills

To improve your hiring outcomes for just about any role, it’s important to maximize the talent signal that you’re getting from your hiring process. Each part of the hiring process imparts information about a candidate’s ability to succeed in the role. From years of experience and education, to assessment scores and interviews, each step is designed to help you make a good hiring decision.

But not every piece of information is created equally. Research in industrial and organizational psychology has delved into the predictiveness of various different selection methods and has found that some information is a lot more predictive than others. The more predictive pieces of information impart a stronger talent signal, which in turn helps you make a better, more predictive hiring decision.

A recent meta-analysis (Sackett, 2022) found that selection methods such as cognitive ability tests, integrity tests, emotional intelligence tests, and personality tests, are highly predictive of job success. What this means is that the information gained from each test can help to strengthen your hiring decision. And by combining multiple assessment types that are highly predictive, you can compound the talent signal and make an even stronger talent decision.

These assessments have another benefit – they’re highly objective and known to reduce bias in the hiring process. While a candidate’s resume and current skills can tell you what the candidate has been able to do in the past, predictive assessments are able to tell you what a candidate can do in the future. In other words, they provide insight into a candidate’s potential.

As a result, using a combination of assessments can widen your candidate pool to include people who you may have overlooked based on resume alone, increasing the diversity of your candidate pools and establishing a fairer and more objective process for all your candidates.

What about Computer Skills?

Computer skills are just one type of test that you can use to learn about your candidate’s skills and abilities. Testing for “hard” skills, such as basic computer literacy, typing, Microsoft suite proficiency, or coding skills, can be critically important to certain roles, and can and should be used to assess a candidate’s proficiency in these critical areas. 

But a candidate’s current computer skills are not enough to ensure long-term job success. Computer skills and languages evolve over time, and there’s no doubt that your employees will have to learn and adapt on the job to incorporate these new skills.

The ability and desire to learn new skills is based on cognitive ability, motivation, achievement orientation, learning ability, receptivity to feedback, and other soft skills. These types of competencies are assessed by other types of highly predictive assessments, such as personality, cognitive aptitude, emotional intelligence, and more. So, while hiring candidates with hard skills can add value today, ensuring you hire candidates who excel at critical soft skills is what often matters most because it helps to predict who can learn, grow, and excel in the long run.

The Results: Why Assess More than Computer Skills?

Many roles today require computer skills – from administrative assistants and office managers, to accounts payable and customer service representatives. It’s important that candidates for these roles have the skills they need to not only succeed on day one, but in the future as well. Combining computer skills with other more predictive assessments can deliver a stronger talent signal to make better hires.

Organizations that use a combination of highly predictive assessments are more likely to experience:

  • Better employee retention
  • Stronger performance
  • Higher revenue
  • More diverse candidate pools AND
  • A more efficient selection process.

To conclude: computer skills can provide you with valuable information about your candidate’s skills today. But relying solely on computer skills represents a missed opportunity. Incorporate the most predictive types of assessments into your selection process to experience better hiring outcomes across your entire talent pipeline.

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