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Talent Assessment | 10 min Read

All You Need to Know About Online Assessments

What Are Online Assessments?

The pervasiveness of online assessments in different working areas speaks volumes about their usability and necessity. Online assessments evaluate an individual’s personality attributes, skills and behaviors. They comprise a series of questions that assess multiple aspects of a test-taker and are created based on the job role, level and competency requirement. Assessments offer an objective evaluation of an employee’s capabilities and predict on-the-job performance, allowing individuals to take assessments from any part of the world, as per their convenience, while saving traveling time and cost.

Also referred to as e-assessments, digital assessments or electronic assessments, online assessments have revolutionized the way recruitment and Learning and Development(L&D) practices across the globe. As per the Talent Assessment Study, the use of online assessments grew by 114% in recruitment and 116% in L&D from 2016-2017. This tremendous growth in adopting the online assessment system points to its effectiveness and efficiency in Human Resource Management (HRM).

Let’s take a look at their use case in education. Online assessment in education is a critical component that poses a significant impact on the holistic learning structure. Online educational evaluation is a systematic process of chronicling and utilizing empirical data on candidates’ skills, knowledge, and behavioral aspects. This assessment method can help teachers align the learning outcomes with teaching methodology to encourage a more effective learning process. Assessments are an impartial analysis of the individual learner or all individuals, such as a class, an institution or a particular program.


There are four types of assessments: Formative, Summative, Diagnostic, Benchmark, and Interim. Formative assessment is aimed at monitoring students’ learning and providing ongoing feedback that can be used by both instructor and learner to enhance the efficacy of the learning process. A summative assessment is intended to measure students’ learning at the end of an instructive unit. Diagnostic assessment is administered at the start to assess candidates’ prior knowledge. An interim assessment is distributed across an entire school or the region to analyze and compare applicants’ results. Benchmark assessment is incredibly essential in gauging the academic progress of large student groups.

Benefits of Online Assessments

The multifaceted benefits of online assessment are evident. For instance, whether it’s a corporation measuring training effectiveness or conducting certification programs or a college keen on adopting a digital approach to exams, there are multiple benefits of switching to this mode of assessment. The benefits of online assessments are equally welcomed by both the organization administering the test and the examinees themselves. Here are some advantages of online assessment that you should consider:

Digitally-savvy Candidates

Examinees nowadays prefer working on a computer and are not keen on adopting the traditional pen-and-paper approach. Candidates are so used to computer editing tools while writing that they can’t do without it; for example, copy and pasting text and using spreadsheets have become commonplace tasks.  It would be toilsome to switch to pen and paper when they have become accustomed to working digitally.

Minimized Administrative Burden

Evaluators can significantly reduce administrative hassles such as organizing and conducting exams by turning to online assessments. Printing and distributing assessments on paper and organizing the supplies of complete scripts for evaluation purposes is a tedious process.

Easy to Mark and Provide Results

Online assessments can simplify the evaluation process and provide test outcomes much faster than traditional assessments. With an automated scoring feature, results are available straight away.

Collaborative Authoring

In the case of an online assessment test, authoring questions becomes a collaborative process. The examining body can easily manage the tasks while creating questions because clear workflows are defined for reviewing and selecting problems before including them in the question bank.

Automated Test Assembly

After finalizing approved questions, test creators can simply create exam papers with the aid of automated tools, such as linear-on-the-fly testing(LOFT).

Onscreen Marking

An online assessment exam makes it easy to streamline and standardize the process of scoring and moderating results.

Environmentally favorable

Electronic assessment is more environmentally friendly with reduced paper consumption and lessened carbon footprint of logistics and production than its predecessor.


With the advent of online assessment exams came the convenience of reaching beyond the constraints of geographical limitations. Now examining bodies can reach out to candidates from far-flung areas, unlike before when administering exams was limited to physical test centers.

Enhanced Security

Security concerns are properly addressed in an online exam setting, where all test papers, examinee details, and grades are digitally available. Besides, the security level is remarkably high because only the people who are authorized to do so can access the exam. 


Online assessments offer unparalleled ease of taking exams from anywhere. Features such as online remote proctoring enable examinees to take an exam from the comfort of their homes securely and conveniently.

In-depth Reporting

Online assessment reports are comprehensive and provide insights into candidates’ results and progress. Such a report delves deep into how candidates perform in a particular area and what areas require immediate attention. 


Administering online assessment tests seems to be a cost-effective affair because administrators can save time and resources while performing administrative operations, including exam creation, delivery and circulation, and evaluation processes. 


Administrators can conduct online assessments even for candidates with disabilities. It is easier to change the background color, font size, etc. Moreover, the test format perfectly caters to those candidates with special considerations.

Traditional Assessments v/s Online Assessments

The conventional assessments, such as pre-screening, pen-and-paper tests, multiple telephonic rounds, and face-to-face interviews, were prone to hassles. Sifting through a pile of applications, scheduling meetings with relevant candidates, managing expected availability and selecting the most suitable candidate became subjective, time-taking and challenging to manage. With online assessments, the time spent coordinating with job applicants, selecting qualified prospects and scheduling multiple rounds became easier. Candidates now must clear an online assessment exam even before the telephonic interview. This saves hiring managers’ time and provides them clarity in ensuring that only top talent qualifies.

Compared with traditional assessments, online assessments offer speed and accuracy in identifying and developing top talent. They streamline both these processes, enabling organizations to make the right ‘people’ decisions. Due to their multifold benefits, there has been increased adoption of online assessment tests in human resource management. They are now widely used in various sectors, such as education, government, consulting and others.

What Are Online Assessment Platforms and Their Advantages?

Online assessment platforms are an end-to-end mechanism for talent identification and selection. From screening and shortlisting to onboarding, they effectively map a candidate’s journey. When used together with assessments, these platforms automate human resource (HR) processes effortlessly.

Advantages of an Online Assessment System

The adoption of online assessment systems is rising steadily since these platforms can be used across the employee lifecycle, making human resource management more manageable than before. From hiring top talent, employee training and development, to succession planning, online assessment software offers umpteen benefits to employers.

i) Handle a Large Number of Candidates

Online assessment platforms allow talent experts to scale recruitment and selection effortlessly. The use of AI to automate manual processes has simplified many day-to-day tasks of hiring managers. Clean recruiter dashboards deliver a funnel view of applicants. HRs can view the number of applicants in the pipeline, test completion rate, pending tests and candidature status. Conducting online assessments has become seamless with customizable e-mails and auto-scheduling of multiple rounds.


ii) Extensive Question Library and Easy Customization

Online assessment systems are enriched with a wide variety of questionnaires. The questions are based on a wide range of competencies required for numerous job roles and levels. There are different types of questions, including MCQs, coding, graphs, equations, video, audio, database and many more. Hiring managers can either choose from a library of thousands of questions, upload bulk questions, or consult an in-house team of experts to get quick customization of online assessments.


iii) AI-Enabled Proctoring Delivers Secure Environment

The remote proctoring service, be it in the form of auto, live and recorded proctoring, helps maintain test results’ integrity. The three-step authentication process keeps a check on impersonation, which is critical, especially in high-stakes assessments. The AI-enabled platform flags any suspicious activities. Additionally, the online assessment software kills all background apps, does not allow test-takers to navigate away from the browser and bar screen sharing, thus ensuring the credibility of the test results.


iv) Comprehensive Post-Assessment Analysis

Online assessment exams are followed by comprehensive reports based on candidates’ performance. The reports provide essential insights to employers, facilitating the decision-making process in a much better way and understanding a particular team’s strengths and weaknesses. The exhaustive reports also cover section-wise performance and time taken to attempt different sections.

  • The report includes the following:
  • Instant and completely accessible individual reports
  • Evaluate response style from the candidate’s journey
  • On-demand analytics report



 Individual Insights


Online Assessment Tool and Its Types

Online assessment tools have made hiring and employee development effortless. Using these tools, hiring managers and recruiters have facilitated end-to-end execution of recruitment drives. Assessment tools help in filtering out top talent most suitable for a job opening. They act as an effective measure to tap creme de la creme from top tier institutions. Other benefits of online assessment tools include:

  • Helping HR managers in determining a prospect’s role fitment
  • Enabling HRs to keep employees motivated and engaged
  • Shortlisting the ideal candidate from a large candidate pool
  • Reducing the chances of hiring the wrong candidate, considerably bringing down hiring costs
  • Lowering the attrition rate

Types of Online Assessment Tools


Psychometric Assessments

Psychometric assessments are a scientific method to evaluate a person’s competencies, behavior and aptitude. They are designed to assess personality traits and role fitment. They measure how individual behavior affects the workplace dynamics and vice-versa. The information gauged via psychometric assessment tests is then used by employers to make informed decisions. They are divided into three categories:

i) Personality Assessments

Personality assessments are based on the premise that observable changes in an individual’s behavior vary from person to person based on underlying traits. The traits may differ in people coming from different socio-economic backgrounds, cultures or religious beliefs and upbringing. Personality assessments aim to measure these traits objectively. They can be administered to observe a change in personality, screen job applicants and provide a holistic view of an individual’s weaknesses or strengths. Amongst the various trait theories, the Big Five OCEAN model reveals the five core personality traits.


ii) Behavioral Assessments

The purpose of behavioral assessments is to perceive, comprehend, elucidate and envisage human behavior. To understand which behaviors are expected at the workplace, hiring managers consult psychologists regarding appropriate workplace behavior. Hence, behavioral assessments are based on behavioral competencies and relevant indicators.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Mark Twain

 Agreeing with Twain’s ideology, American psychologist Paul Meehl wrote, “…behavior science research itself shows that, by and large, the best way to predict anybody’s behavior is his behavior in the past.”

Consequently, behavioral assessments are founded on this theory.

Identifying Integrity at the Workplace


iii)  Cognitive Assessments

Cognitive assessments measure an individual’s cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, verbal reasoning, numerical ability, problem-solving, decision-making, etc. The test results are an indicator of on-the-job performance and assess potential employees across job levels. These online assessment tests also measure role-specific IQs across multiple job functions.

Cognitive tests play a critical role in mapping the workforce’s development journey. They reveal the competency gaps on which employees need to be trained to perform better. They also help the HRs to improve the quality of hires.


Technical Assessments

While psychometric assessments assess the human personality, traits, behavior, and intelligence, technical assessments focus on an individual’s subject matter expertise in his/her line of work. They test the in-depth knowledge of the person. The questions in a technical assessment are based on the skill requirement of that particular role. The competencies in technical assessment vary with the job role, job function and industry. Technical assessments can be divided into three categories:

i) Coding Tests

Information Technology (IT) encompasses numerous coding skills. These assessments include a C developer test, Java developer test, C++ developer assessment, software testing, python development, and more. Coding tests assess prospects on various languages and technologies such as  Java Spring, ReactJS, C#, automation testing, Oracle DBA, SQL, and much more within real coding environments. Coding tests evaluate the output and consider numerous parameters such as code, time and space complexity.

The Competency Framework for a C# Developer


ii) Role-Based Tests

The purpose of role-based assessments is to assess the domain expertise of individuals. Unlike IT skills, non-technical assessments are a combination of domain, personality and cognitive competencies. This test enables hiring managers to onboard the most eligible candidate. Role-based assessments are customized for various job functions such as marketing, sales, finance, operations, customer support, etc.

The Competency Framework for a Financial Analyst


iii) Language Proficiency Assessment

English language proficiency test measures an individual’s fluency, pronunciation, grammar and comprehension skills. It plays a crucial role in effective communication. The Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered spoken English evaluator is critical for the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry since BPO workers are the first point of contact for both prospects and existing clients.


The Role of Online Assessment Tests in Recruitment and Employee Development



Online assessment exams are the key to an effective recruitment strategy as they provide tangible results by assessing candidates objectively.  They help in determining if a job prospect is a right fit for the open position. The use of online assessment tools allows companies to identify top talent while reducing hiring time and recruitment costs. Also known as pre-employment tests, online tests streamline the hiring process and increase the likelihood of new hires being a great addition to the team.  As ideal assessment tools, they have found use in campus/fresher hiring and lateral hiring.

According to Mercer | Mettl’s Talent Assessment Study 2018, the use of hiring assessments grew by a whopping 114% from 2016 to 2017. The report also revealed how companies use online assessment tools such as cognitive tests, personality assessments, technical, or role-based tests to scale their people’s decisions. At a time when in-person interviews have become a talk of the past, evaluating job applicants has become all the more difficult. More organizations will take to online assessments to tide over the disruption caused by COVID-19 to meet their recruitment needs.


Source: Talent Assessment Study 2018

Learning and Development

Employee learning and development directly impact revenue, cost and overall productivity. The change and churn are making numerous job profiles obsolete. A majority of organizations have frozen their ongoing recruitment. The focus of businesses has now shifted to sustenance, employee engagement and development. With a host of upcoming skills and technologies in-demand, organizations must continue investing in employee training.


The current situation demands employees to upskill and cross-skill to stay relevant. To meet these requirements, employers first need to identify their workforce’s training needs by utilizing the pre-training assessment, followed by skill gaps identification and a development plan proposition based on the assessment report. Employers can then analyze the training effectiveness via a post-training evaluation, which helps map employees’ development journey.

Succession Planning

Since the worldwide lockdown, the rate of business losses appears to be surmounting. Hence, organizations need a skilled and experienced leader to navigate through this turbulence, someone with a deep understanding of effective crisis management, workplace disruption and problem-solving. However, to build a leadership pipeline, businesses must first identify the high-potential (HiPo) employees who possess the knowledge, expertise and potential to take-up future leadership roles.

When organizations commit to succession planning, they build a leadership pipeline that develops high-potential talent, keeping those team members invested and on track for future success.

Jill Pioter
Director of Branding and Communication, Psychological Associates

Online succession planning tools play a significant role in identifying and developing high-potential employees. Unlike subjective leadership evaluation, online assessments offer an objective assessment of competencies, skills, and behaviors critical for leadership positions. 

Effective succession planning provides:

  • Improved retention of Hi-Pos
  • Increased availability of skilled leaders
  • Planning of career paths

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Advancement in HR technology has wholly revolutionized HR processes. The flaws in traditional talent practices have been eliminated with online assessment tools and platforms. Businesses that have acted wisely, and taken the online assessment route, have experienced a superior quality of hires, efficient skill gap analysis, effective development strategies and easy-to-implement processes. Organizations that are still following traditional talent management practices have no choice but to shift to the online mode. In such unforeseen circumstances, where all business activities can be solely dependent on digital platforms, it is about time to adopt HR tech to maintain business stability, consistency and growth.


Get the answers to the most commonly asked questions about online assessment tools.

We have listed the answers to the most typical concerns in the FAQ section:

Why do we do online assessments?

The use of online assessments enables organizations to save a lot of time and resources. These assessments are not time-consuming, and multiple test-takers can simultaneously take the online assessment exams, eliminating the need for delegating specialized personnel for the same. Besides, the candidates can take the assessments from anywhere, any time. Test administers can easily see the candidates’ responses and give instant feedback and results. And that enables you, as a recruiter, researcher, trainer or teacher, to get a better understanding of your users, their strengths, improvement areas and needs. 

What is an online assessment test for a job?

The online assessment test is designed so that employers can identify specific abilities or characteristics of candidates with the utmost ease. This type of assessment is used to select candidates based on their suitability for a particular job. The online electronic assessment is frequently used now in HRs. To learn more about the online assessment exam, visit Mercer | Mettl.

What are the 4 types of assessments?

One can classify assessments into four major categories, namely Diagnostic, Formative, Interim and Summative.

What are the tips for taking an online exam?

The entire process can be divided into three stages: before the assessment, during the evaluation and post-assessment

Before the Online Exam: Stage of Preparation

  • Comprehend the test guidelines
  • Understand the test format
  • Perform a thorough check of your computer
  • Plan your time
  • Move to a peaceful test-taking spot with lesser distractions
  • Determine when you will sit your exam online 
  • Brace yourself to take the exam

During the Online Exam: Focus stage

  • Don’t lose track of time 
  • If allowed by your examiner, print and save copies of the assessment questions as well as your responses
  • Finally, look over the test before submitting it
  • Click submit

After the Online Exam: Reviewing stage

  • Self-assess your progress
  • Check your grades
  • Learn from your past mistakes and never repeat them

How to pass online job assessments?

Listed below are some points that students might consider while preparing for online assessment tests:

Focus on Preparation

Students might encounter various questions on pre-employment tests, but most of them aim to measure the same things. Such tests intend to evaluate the competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence of the candidates. Online assessment tests might also focus on integrity, social skills, trainability, ambition, self-discipline, reliability, and political skills. If test takers can plan their preparations around these points, it will help them understand what they are being tested on, enabling them to respond with utmost confidence.

Practice Diligently 

It all boils down to one fact that job assessment tests are much like any other exam students will appear over time. Like everything else, studying and practicing are the only two ways to improve performance. Moreover, various online resources and study materials help enhance the skills for the exam. There are several self-assessment quizzes and tests that can assist applicants in improving their reasoning and logic skills. Timely guidance from subject matter experts also comes in handy.

Authentic Self-expression

Since online assessment tests can gauge candidates’ competency, students must ensure preparedness for all challenging sections, namely personality sections. Candidates strive to make the best impression while taking pre-employment tests, but they must refrain from misrepresenting facts about their personality to gain an unfair advantage over others. 

Various exams come laced with anti-cheating solutions that lure test takers trying to manipulate the exam. Moreover, recruiters also deep dive into the candidate’s work history, CV, past accomplishments, and can conduct face-to-face interviews. Examinees are likely to land in a problematic situation if what they intend to portray doesn’t match their responses. It’s always advisable to answer honestly and focus on real personality.

Can you fail a personality assessment?

Recruiters often use personality assessment to ascertain the fitment probabilities of graduates into the company. The test questionnaire includes questions that determine what kind of a person a candidate is and sometimes reveals underlying aspects of the candidate’s personality in an interview. The questions also shed some light on the behavioral characteristics and motivation level of applicants. Such online assessment tests are also designed to be cheat-proof so that nobody could beat the system. There’s nothing like being honest in all aspects of the job application process. Candidates should refrain from malpractices in the online assessment because it will have a detrimental impact on their career, especially for graduates in their first job.

While aspirants may think of personality assessment as potential barriers to employment, the truth is nobody can ace a personality test, and they can’t fail either. The main goal of personality tests is to determine a person’s strengths and weaknesses, among other personality traits, how a candidate fare is then compared against the job requirement. This exercise ensures that only the right candidate is selected for the role. Since new college graduates have no prior experience to attest to their potential, a personality test will prove beneficial. 

Various personality tests are available on the internet that candidates can take for self-assessment. The applicant must have completed a personality test when he /she is applying for the job. The reason is that both recruiters and candidates can benefit from this fact. This way, companies will find if the candidate is suitable for the role and the organization itself. The applicant will also become sure of their choices, whether or not to join a particular organization. 

Can you cheat on online exams?

Many institutions of higher education are opting for proctored exams to keep cheating at bay. Mercer | Mettl’s suite of remote proctoring technologies ensure cheating free online exams. Online proctoring with AI-powered tools helps in conducting virtual exams securely and seamlessly.

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Originally published December 4 2019, Updated June 16 2021

Megha Singh

Written by

A writer at heart, Megha has been in the content industry for 4 years. Starting her career from print, her journey spans across IT, legal and consulting industries. She has been associated with Mercer | Mettl as Assistant Manager, Content Marketing for 2 years.

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