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Are recruiter assumptions about their candidates correct?

Last updated: 07-26-2019

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 Are recruiter assumptions about their candidates correct?

To keep the right candidates engaged, it is vital recruiters know what they need from a selection process. But do recruiters know? We surveyed over 1,000 candidates and 200 recruiters to find out. 

The most important factor for candidates is that a selection process “results in a job they want to stay in”.

The rise of the gig economy is promoting a view that candidates aren’t looking for stability when job hunting. This isn’t what they told us. They told us a selection process needs to give them a realistic preview of the role they will be going into. Any assessments used need to be clearly relevant. They’re looking for a selection process which allows them to understand the skills they will need to succeed and give them a chance to demonstrate them. 

They want to be selected to a role they are suited to. 

This is where behavioural assessments can be incredibly powerful. Self-report questionnaires allow candidates to tell us quickly (our shortest behavioural assessment has a candidate completion time of just 6.5 minutes), and accurately, how well they fit with the role(s) being recruited to.

Working with an internationally-recognised technology client, we found the extent to which their salespeople have a preference for “Pursuing Goals” significantly predicted their overall performance. Perhaps more interestingly, the opposite was true for “Following Procedures”. The more these same salespeople preferred following procedures, the lower their overall performance rating was. Imagine how powerful this information is when the recruiting team is deciding who from a shortlist to put forward. 

Recruiters and candidates both want a process that “gives a positive impression of the organisation’s brand”.

The Recruiter Awards judging panel described us as “displaying a masterful use of technology”. This means so much to us as, increasingly, our clients want to demonstrate that they are at the cutting edge of technology. Selection processes have helped showcase how forward thinking our clients are through:

Introducing apps and scoring algorithms which allow our clients to select what matters for a role - and automatically assess a candidate’s suitability for a range of different roles - from one assessment completion.

Designing integrated workflows where early stages of the assessment process flow directly into, and power, video interviews.

Talent analytic apps allowing recruiters and hiring managers to share group-level insights into their candidates in a highly engaging and interactive format. 

Interestingly, in relation to the use of technology, most recruiters (66%) over-estimated how many applicants would want to complete selection processes on a mobile phone. The key to this is that

candidates have choice on how to apply and that the assessment being taken has responsive design to optimise its display on the chosen device.

30 minutes is the sweet spot for candidates completing an application process.

Collecting all the information you need in 30 minutes or less can have a 55% increase on the likelihood of a candidate staying in a selection process.

With this in mind, we have designed short behavioural and combined cognitive ability assessments. These ensure a candidate is spending as little time (at as little cost) as possible completing assessments, whilst ensuring they provide the information needed to make objective, and evidence based, decisions on a candidate’s suitability for a role.

So, are recruiter assumptions correct? What did our survey tell us?

The recruiters we asked generally knew what candidates are looking for. They correctly identified the importance of applying rigour to ensure hiring managers end up with a shortlist of candidates well suited to their role. They know candidates want to give a good impression of themselves – and therefore want to be well informed and well prepared for the selection stages. And whilst the importance of being able to complete assessments via mobile is overstated by recruiters, it is still an important consideration for candidates.

Short, sharp assessments seamlessly integrated through a “masterful use of technology”, and practice materials available in multiple languages, can help recruiters give candidates and hiring managers what they need without turning candidates off by adding significant time demands. If you’re not using well-designed assessments in your process perhaps it is time you started. 

Visit to receive a full copy of the survey and discuss the best options for you. 

Martin Kavanagh is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist at Saville Assessment. Saville Assessment, named Recruitment Industry Supplier of the Year at the 2019 Recruiter Awards, design highly predictive assessments which help recruiters deliver results for their clients. 

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