How do you hire a diverse candidate pool?

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Published on: August 2020

Written by: BTS Assessment Team

For decades, assessments have been a proven tool that organizations turn to for hiring and promoting the right people. However, did you know assessments can also be used to create more diverse and equitable succession? In this moment when organizations are thinking carefully about their talent pools, promoting, hiring, and developing talent inclusively is critical.

How do assessments help with inclusion?

Properly developed assessments take the human bias element out of the evaluation equation. By establishing clear, specific criteria, your organization won’t rely on your hiring manager’s “gut feeling.” Instead, you’ll be able to carefully calibrate your assessments to ensure they are actually measuring what’s required for success on-the-job. Validated assessments yield successful business outcomes for companies and produce fair and accurate results for participants. Not all assessments are created equal, so administering multiple assessments and simulations are an effective way to diminish adverse impact, meaning that doing so diminishes discriminatory effects on protected groups, thus promoting inclusion.

Hiring talent isn’t the only time when assessments can be used to promote inclusivity. During the development process, once an employee is in a role and a manager views them favorably, the manager will likely help the employee access development opportunities and ultimately get promoted. However, without a formal assessment process for selecting who accesses these development programs or clear guidelines describing how they work, there is significant potential for bias. Managers informed about assessments learn that using the results of an assessment for selection is more reliable and accurate than relying on their “gut feeling.” This “gut feeling” is what typically results in managers identifying high potentials that look exactly like the existing management. Leveraging assessments can prevent this from happening and ensure that talent opportunities are directed to the right people.

Do all assessments help with inclusion?

Not just any assessment will work towards the goal of hiring a more diverse candidate pool. Assessments that are focused on the behaviors and mindsets needed to be successful on the job are critical. These types of assessments evaluate candidates for the skills that matter in their specific day-to-day working environment, such as diffusing a situation with an angry client or mentoring a junior employee. On the contrary, assessments that test for knowledge (popular examples include IQ tests or the SAT) are known to cause an adverse impact. Talent decisions made using those assessments negatively impact protected groups. Qualified candidates can be passed over because the assessment is biased towards individuals with specific backgrounds, which adversely impacts individuals based on race, color, religion, socio-economic status or otherwise that is not relevant to the job.

What does an assessment that successfully promotes inclusion look like?

A leading financial services organization wanted to evaluate how previous work experiences impacted new hires’ performance over time. For many years, the firm had prioritized hiring individuals with specific work experiences, assuming they would perform better in a financial services environment. However, they recognized that they were missing opportunities to hire non-traditional candidates.

Thus, the firm hired BTS to create a validated assessment, which was aligned to the behaviors and mindsets that new hires need on-the-job. As part of the recruitment process, the firm evaluated each candidate with an assessment that simulated the job. Candidates who passed the assessment were hired, and the firm followed their progress over multiple years.

This study produced telling results – the farmers, housewives, and unemployed candidates passed the assessment at equal rates. In addition, the assessment predicted multiyear success for non-traditional candidates.

In conclusion

Organizations have always used assessments to eliminate bias and create an objective way to evaluate candidates. At a time when inclusion is top of mind for most organizations, properly developed assessments remain the tried and true solution for selecting and developing diverse candidate pools.