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Talent Assessment | 8 Min Read

Behavioral assessments: The what, why, & how

What are behavioral assessments?

Behavioral assessments offer a structured analysis of a person’s behavior using various methods like interviews, direct supervision, and self-observation. It involves observing, explaining, and predicting human behavior with the help of new-age digital tools.

Behavioral assessments are employed during the recruitment and employee development cycle to assess core competencies required to perform the organization’s job. These assessments require candidates to exhibit behavioral competencies in one or more tasks related to their work responsibility and mimic an actual workplace situation. The behavioral evaluation provides candidates with a series of simulated work environments with probable actions to be taken. Candidates have to tick either the best option or grade the possible activities based on their effectiveness.

Behavioral tests evaluate behavioral competencies, which comprise knowledge, skills, and personality traits in an individual. Such competencies are critical elements across job roles. Each behavioral competency can be gauged through a unique combination of questions, and the outcome optimizes workforce planning.


What are behavioral assessments in the workplace?

Behavioral assessments use new-age tools to measure behavioral competencies in a simulated work environment. These assessments offer candidates a series of realistic work-related scenarios, and they have to select either the best option or rank the possible actions based on effectiveness.


What do behavioral tests measure?

Behavioral tests measure behavioral competencies that are a combination of skills, knowledge, and traits in an individual. Behavioral competencies are a job’s components that reflect in the employee’s behavior and are observable in the workplace.

Behavioral competencies are differently defined for every job level and role. Therefore, having a comprehensive list of behavioral competencies important to your organization’s culture can help you combine the right types of behavioral assessment tests for better workforce planning.

How are behavioral assessment tests different from personality and cognitive tests?


Why are behavioral assessments important?

The hiring team spends a lot of time, money, and other resources in selecting and onboarding a candidate for a position. When the wrong hire is onboarded, it impacts the company’s culture and productivity, increasing recruitment overheads.

Behavioral assessment methods help recognize how and what is behind a person’s behavior, enabling you to hire the right candidates, nurture employees, and make informed decisions about your organization’s future leaders. Behavioral evaluations are outcome-oriented and match an individual’s behavioral tendencies with job demands, leading to extended associations and contented employees.

Understanding your employees’ behavior from the onset safeguards your organization from potential losses, simultaneously boosting the development process by identifying growth opportunities.


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Behavioral assessment tests for recruitment 

Traditional recruitment practices make it difficult to predict candidates’ ability to fit into the organization’s culture and fulfill job responsibilities. However, employees are significant to an organization’s growth, and an unsuitable hire can create challenging circumstances, economically and culturally. Traditional recruitment tools are neither objective nor reliable and prolong the time-to-hire.

Behavioral evaluation is a powerful tool to match candidates to job roles. These assessments accelerate the hiring process by cutting down the time-to-hire while ensuring that decisions are data-driven and are not instinctive.

Traditional recruitment incorporates some form of behavioral interviewing. These interview questions are based on resumes that don’t offer the necessary information to make objective hiring decisions or even to ask the right questions. Individuals applying for a job may communicate differently, respond to situations differently, thrive in varied environments, react to various stimuli, and respond to distinct management styles. A candidate who is a right fit for the job and the organization will flourish and grow, while an unsuitable candidate might feel disengaged and frustrated. These things are difficult to measure through a simple behavioral interview.

This is where behavioral assessments make their mark. They provide an in-depth understanding of the candidate’s preferences to predict if they are the right fit. Behavioral assessments help in screening and selecting the right candidates, thereby delivering a driven user experience. Since behavioral assessments closely emulate the job role and organization setting, they additionally empower candidates to make the right choice. Combined with behavioral event interviews or competency-based interviews, workplace behavioral assessments lead to an accurate representation of the candidate.

The success of any organization largely depends on its people. If you put the right people in the right jobs, they are more likely to perform well and propel the organization towards success.

Behavioral assessments for L&D 

While domain skills are essential consideration factors at the time of recruitment, there is an extensive application of behavioral assessment tests in L&D initiatives as well. Behavioral assessments provide an in-depth understanding of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This enables organizations and employees to collectively identify a roadmap for growth that caters to organizational needs and employees’ career plans.

Behavioral assessments also play an important role in leadership development and succession planning. They provide a brilliant opportunity for organizations to reiterate their vision and values and identify employees who share them. Depending on the types of behavioral assessments you employ, they can measure your organization’s core competencies, identify skill gaps, and create a training plan, contributing to the goal of workforce optimization for future success.

Behavioral evaluation helps identify high-potential employees who can be groomed to assume critical roles and create a pipeline of future leaders. An organization’s keen interest in its employees’ development reduces turnover and improves its efficiency because of objective alignment.


What are the different types of behavioral evaluation tools available?

Behavioral evaluation is a systematic determination of a candidate’s behavior using various methods like interviews, psychometric testing, direct supervision, and self-assessment. The purpose of behavioral evaluation is to observe, explain, and determine human behavior with advanced assessment tools.


Online and offline Behavioral assessment tools


How do you conduct behavioral assessments?

Different types of behavioral assessments represent different frameworks to assess key behavioral competencies. These competencies can help employers determine the behavioral strengths, skills, knowledge, abilities, values, and ethics that align with the company culture.

Behavioral assessment tests can measure a plethora of behavioral tendencies. They include result orientation, teamwork, conflict management, establishing trust, work delegation, etc. A behavioral test probes specific behavioral dispositions with an understanding that behaviors can change easily. Behavior is adaptable and can be observed, meaning it responds and changes according to an external environment.

Here’s how organizations can use behavioral tests in their hiring and L&D processes:

Competency: Tool Mapping

Competency-tool mapping involves creating an organization-specific competency framework or using an available framework to identify relevant indicators of behaviors and map them on available tools. Two or more tools are typically combined for a reliable and holistic overview of the test-taker. Competency-tool mapping considers job compatibility with the workplace behaviors required to succeed on the job and in the organization.

For instance, caselets can assess business acumen and prompt decision-making, while a case study simulator may better evaluate an analytical and innovative mindset.

Tool Creation

Tools and questions are created based on specific job functions. They emulate the job’s realities, posing questions that reflect actual workplace situations.

Content Validation

Content validation is vital to obtain optimal results. Multiple iterations of the content in consultation with subject matter experts is the best practice to reflect the real essence of the organizational environment.

Test administering and report generation

For online behavioral tests, organizations can opt for virtual assessment centers. They are easy to roll out, highly time and cost-effective, easily scalable, and generate instant reports. Conversely, offline tools often involve one or more assessors observing candidates at a physical assessment center. The reports typically take longer because the assessors need to cull the results together.

Data analysis and individual development plans

The reports should provide a detailed behavioral profile of the test-taker, including actionable insights and plans for recruiters and learning and development(L&D) experts. Data analysis can help organizations understand the key skill gaps and training needs at a group level. Individual development plans can be customized for each test-taker to help them understand and work on their development areas.


Advantages and disadvantages of behavioral assessments


  • Behavioral tests are strong predictors of job performance.
  • Behavioral tests have high face validity because test content is based on a real job environment, providing practical insights into the applicants’ fitment. 
  • Using realistic content in behavioral tests evokes a favorable reaction from the test-takers.
  • The potential for adverse impact in terms of gender, age and ethnicity is lowest in behavioral assessments because of the use of job-relevant content.
  • Behavioral evaluation tools are based on real-life scenarios relating to the job and organization. Therefore, they are customizable as per requirement.
  • These assessments offer candidates rich insights into the organization and the role for which they are applying.
  • It could also reduce turnover in the long run, as the candidates are likely to have more precise and realistic expectations about their roles.


  • Given their context-specific nature and in-depth analysis, they are more time-consuming than generic assessments. Developing bespoke behavioral assessments requires job analysis, identifying critical incidents, developing the test content, establishing content validity, etc. However, online behavioral assessment tests are comparatively quicker than offline tools as the latter requires multiple stakeholders, while the former can be easily conducted virtually.
  • Due to the same reason, behavioral assessment tests may incur a greater expense, although they are often associated with higher ROIs. Using online tools can reduce expenses and resources spent by hiring and talent teams.


How Mercer | Mettl can help

Mercer | Mettl has a vast repository of behavioral tests and tools that can be used across an employee’s lifecycle, from selection, promotion, upskilling, progression and continual development.

Our behavioral tests can be combined with a rich library of tests – personality, aptitude, and domain – for powerful insights into recruitment and development. You can choose to administer any combination of these tests, based on your requirements, through Mercer | Mettl’s virtual assessments and development center to ensure continuity in your talent management processes.

Mercer | Mettl’s behavioral assessments are recognized for their:

  • Validation: Strong correlation with on-the-job performance
  • Reliability: Highly reliable results as assessments are based on realistic job scenarios
  • Customization: Customized as per your organizational requirements
  • Extensive repository: A vast array of content for each job role, job level and industry


Mercer | Mettl’s behavioral assessments are recognized for their:

  • Validation: Strong correlation with on the job performance
  • Reliability: Highly reliable results as assessments are based on realistic job scenarios
  • Customization: Customized as per your organizational requirements
  • Extensive Repository: A vast array of content for each job role, job-level and industry


What are behavioral assessment tests?

What are behavioral assessments used for?

What are the features of behavioral assessments?

What is the purpose of behavioral assessments?

What are the three main types of behavioral assessments?

What are the five phases of behavioral assessments?

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated November 5 2023

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

Behavioral Assessment/Test

Behavioral Tests To Measure Workplace Competencies

Behavioral assessments are extensively used in education and workplace settings to observe, identify, and explain behavior. In the corporate context, behavioral assessments require individuals to demonstrate behavioral competencies through multiple activities relevant to the job role and resemble an actual organizational situation.

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