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Talent Assessment | 3 min Read

What are talent assessments, and why are they useful?


The need to attract top talent has fostered immense competition and innovation among companies. It is often challenging for recruiters to find the most suitable candidate; organizations spend inordinate sums on onboarding candidates to meet their hiring goals. Further, there is an unprecedented surge in demand for new skills and abilities in an ever-changing business environment. As a result, HR managers’ hiring decisions are critical in sourcing top talent. They require crucial data and insights to make well-analyzed hiring decisions that align with the organization’s strategic objectives. To avoid errors and make informed decisions, HR professionals must utilize talent assessments for actionable and objective insights into talent acquisition and management.




What are talent assessments?

Talent assessment is a structured process employers use to identify the most suitable job candidates. This test may comprise various questions, job simulations, etc., that employers can use to assess an applicant’s performance and competency for a particular role. Companies and recruiters use these assessments to quickly evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, personality, behaviour and work style. It helps employers understand the applicants’ on-the-job performance.

Talent assessments are critical for company performance and success, providing a tangible business impact. Therefore, talent acquisition experts utilize a hiring strategy involving strategic talent assessment tools to ensure identifying and attracting top talent.


Why are talent assessments pivotal in identifying the right talent?

In a digitally connected world where an unprecedented amount of data is readily accessible, the datafication of talent holds the potential to redefine how companies’ approach, attract, develop and engage talent. Talent assessments can provide invaluable data-driven insights on defining, strategizing, and organizing hiring, training, and development activities.

A talent assessment’s outcome helps predict job-related performance, assuring an employer of the applicant’s ability to do the job well. These assessments are based on numerous recruitment and retention case studies and analyses of employee data.

Further, results acquired from talent assessments reveal the extent to which the candidates’ skills and abilities are aligned with the hiring needs. It simplifies recruiters’ tasks, helping them decide the suitable candidates who may be approached for the next rounds of evaluations or interviews.

The complete process, from creating, scheduling, and delivering the talent assessment, can be automated using candidate evaluation software. A talent assessment test may comprise a series of questions, job simulations, etc., that employers include to assess the applicant’s performance and competency for a particular role. This helps evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, work style, and other characteristics to ascertain their suitability for the role and culture fit.


The objective of talent assessment

Talent assessment is critical for long-term business growth. Some of its objectives are-

Evaluating skills and competencies:

Talent assessment evaluates an individual's skills, knowledge, and potential to determine suitability for a specific role or position. It aids organizations in finding candidates with the required abilities.

Making informed hiring decisions:

Talent assessments provide objective insights into a candidate's strengths and developmental needs. By using diverse assessment practices, organizations can make informed decisions about hiring suitable team talent.

Identifying developmental needs:

Talent assessments identify areas where individuals may require further development or training. Organizations can create targeted learning and development programs to enhance employee performance by understanding their developmental needs.

Assessing personality and culture fit:

Traditional hiring methods often overlook important qualities like personality and cultural fit. Talent assessments enable organizations to evaluate key personality traits and determine whether a candidate aligns with the company's culture.

Planning for succession and talent management:

Talent assessments are crucial in succession planning and talent management. By assessing the skills and potential of employees, organizations can identify high-potential individuals for future leadership roles and create effective talent development strategies.


How do talent assessments work?

Talent assessments help employers prioritize which candidates to interview and how to interview them. A talent assessment platform, generally known as an online assessment platform, provides HR managers and recruiters with a fully integrated assessment solution to help them screen candidates from a vast applicant pool early on. These tests can be administered online on a powerful cloud-based platform secured with advanced proctoring technology.

Listed below is the process that details how an assessment platform facilitates the talent evaluation process- from creation to analysis:


Test creation

Test administrators design an online assessment, sorting questions from their repository or accessing the platform service provider’s extensive assessment library. Tests can be tailor-made to suit the admin’s parameters for test duration, question order, section configuration, scoring logic, etc.


Test Invitation

Here, candidates can receive assessment invites from administrators. These invites can be scheduled for specific times, dates, or IP addresses. Then, test-takers can access the link and begin their assessment.


Proctoring intervention

The exam invigilation part is where test-takers are monitored to ensure the integrity and credibility of assessment tests. Administrators can either deploy their proctors or leverage third-party online proctoring services.


Candidate verification

Candidates’ identity verification uses webcams and government-issued identity cards in a remote (online) proctoring setup. Proctors can scan candidates’ testing environment through the webcam and run diagnostic checks on examinees’ computers before initiating the test. Additionally, online proctoring enables proctors to deploy anti-cheating features, such as disabling screen sharing and multi-window browsing options.


Test experience

Once the test starts, proctors can control the test-takers’ computer screens and video feeds. Administrators and proctors can communicate with candidates individually or broadcast messages to several candidates simultaneously. Besides, proctors can perform several actions, such as terminating any candidate’s test session, capturing screenshots, or re-authenticating a test-taker based on the captured footage.


Results report generation

A talent assessment platform helps generate automated, in-depth reports and crucial data points, such as proctors’ chat logs, screen captures, live feed recordings, etc. The reports are furnished as soon as the test concludes. These reports are sent to the test administrator and are customizable to present actionable and relevant data.


Talent assessment strategy

  • Setting clear objectives guides the talent assessment process, aligning it with organizational goals and talent management strategy. It helps identify required competencies, determine assessment outcomes, and design appropriate methods and tools.
  • Job analysis examines job requirements to understand the necessary knowledge, skills, and qualities for effective performance. It informs the development of assessment criteria to measure relevant competencies accurately.
  • Choosing suitable assessment methods, such as interviews, tests, work samples, simulations, and assessment centers, evaluates a candidate's suitability for a specific job. Methods should align with job requirements, desired outcomes, and available resources.
  • Assessment tools and resources, including interview guides, tests, simulations, and software, should be selected based on validity, reliability, accessibility, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness. Valid and reliable assessments ensure accurate evaluations.
  • Data analysis and interpretation involve systematically examining assessment results to draw meaningful conclusions. Statistical techniques can evaluate individual and group performance, identify patterns, compare results against benchmarks, and generate actionable insights.
  • Monitoring progress and improvement over time is essential to recognize strengths and areas for improvement. It aligns development initiatives with assessed competencies and ensures ongoing talent management and development.


Talent assessment process

There are several vital steps to implement an effective talent assessment process.

Firstly, the business needs should be assessed by considering the roles the organization is hiring for and understanding why a talent assessment program is necessary. This involves examining how the talent assessment process can assist in gauging each candidate’s competencies.

Next, defining the objectives for the talent assessment process based on specific organizational goals is critical. It may involve developing a talent assessment framework to improve workplace diversity or identifying talented candidates. Choosing the appropriate assessments that align with these objectives is essential, considering reliability, usefulness, and potential disadvantages.

Once the assessments are administered, the next step is to review the results objectively, eliminate bias, and evaluate organizational goals for the position. In addition, recruiters must follow up with candidates by providing them with the assessment results after making an informed decision about the most suitable fit for the role.

Finally, the results of the assessments are examined, areas for improvement are identified, and necessary adjustments are made to the assessment process over time.


Types of talent assessments

There are numerous types of talent assessments. They include-

Psychometric Test

Psychometric tests are scientific methods that measure a candidate’s critical thinking abilities, intelligence, personality traits, cognitive skills, motivations, interests and behavioral style. Talent acquisition experts use psychometric test information to identify the candidates’ aspects that can be challenging to understand during face-to-face interviews. The assessment’s primary objective is to identify applicants who are likely to fulfill the job requirement at an early stage.

Behavioral Assessment

Behavioral assessment is a tool recruiters use to measure applicants’ underlying behavioral traits. It assesses candidates’ generic personalities, motivations and emotional intelligence to evaluate their suitability for specific industries, functions and roles. These assessments require individuals to exhibit behavioral competencies in activities relevant to their job roles that resemble actual organizational situations. The candidates are presented with work-related scenarios with possible courses of action, and they must pick the most suitable option or rank the possible actions based on their effectiveness.

Cognitive Ability Test

Cognitive intelligence is among the best predictors of training proficiency and work performance, particularly in complex jobs. Unlike most recruitment practices that evaluate candidates on their current skill sets, hiring candidates based on cognitive abilities yields a talented pool with higher IQs and analytical skills.

Cognitive ability tests are psychometric tests that measure an applicant’s critical thinking, verbal reasoning, numerical aptitude, problem-solving and decision-making skills. These assessments predict an applicant’s on-the-job performance and assess current and potential employees across job levels. The test results help employers select the top fit for the job role.

Technical Assessments

Technical assessments are instrumental in evaluating an applicant’s functional and subject knowledge for a specific job role. The questions asked in technical tests are based on the skill requirement of a particular job role. Thus, the competencies in a technical assessment vary depending on the job function, role, and industry.

Coding Assessment

Coding assessments help measure the applicants’ know-how and evaluate them on programming languages and technologies, such as Java, Python, C++, Oracle, SQL, etc. Recruiters can shortlist candidates with good scores in coding assessments.

Communication Skills Assessment

Communication skills assessment measures a candidate’s pronunciation, fluency, grammar and listening comprehension skills. The pre-employment test has become an essential criterion in the hiring process. It is a filtration tool to assess prospects for customer-facing roles and industries, such as sales, BPO, hospitality, media house, branding, etc.

Coding Simulators

Coding simulators are software tools that enable applicants to write and test their code in a simulated environment. Tech recruiters can use the tool to analyze the candidate’s hands-on experience and the ability to solve a problem in their desired programming language. The applicant is evaluated on parameters such as problem-solving skills, performance on the desired task, and coding proficiency in general programming languages. Once the candidate completes the coding, they are auto-graded in real-time based on code quality, efficiency, correctness and scalability.




Uncovering talent and the science behind It

‘Talent’ is an individual’s natural ability or skill that can manifest from the five core elements. They are:


Personality traits

It refers to the individual’s pattern of thoughts and feelings and provides recruiters with informed insight into their personality. To be a good leader, an applicant for a leadership position should have five core traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These are detailed below:

  • Openness: A leader who is open to employee suggestions and comfortable discussing concerns with team members.
  • Conscientiousness: An individual with a futuristic approach than being spontaneous.
  • Extraversion: An individual who is friendly, energetic and talkative.
  • Agreeableness: An applicant who is sympathetic, helpful and benevolent.
  • Neuroticism: It implies emotional instability and emotions, such as depression and anxiety.


Behavioral traits

It refers to an applicant’s pattern of responses in a hypothetical situation in an organizational setting. The recruiter observes the candidate’s behavior and evaluates the job role-based fitment.


Cognitive ability

It refers to an individual’s requisite problem-solving, critical thinking and verbal reasoning skills to handle a complex project.


Communication skills

It refers to the applicant’s language ability to interact with people fluently and clearly. A leader with good interpersonal skills can convey the organizational goals to the team members and other stakeholders, resulting in the desired coordination between the manager and employees.


Technical skills

This refers to the candidate’s domain knowledge for a specific job role, such as a candidate with excellent domain knowledge of marketing and experience heading a marketing project.


Talent assessment solutions

Talent assessment solutions are tools and processes used by organizations to evaluate the skills, abilities, and potential of individuals during the hiring or development process. These solutions offer a range of assessments that can measure various aspects of a candidate’s capabilities, such as cognitive abilities, job-related behaviors, and competencies. By utilizing talent assessment solutions, companies can make more informed decisions about hiring, promotion, and talent development, improving workforce productivity and performance.

One popular type of talent assessment is cognitive ability tests, which measure a candidate’s reasoning, perception, and problem-solving skills. These tests provide insights into an individual’s ability to think critically, make sound decisions, and adapt to new challenges. Higher scores on cognitive ability tests often indicate a person’s potential to reach and maintain workplace goals.

Additionally, talent assessment solutions may include other assessments, such as personality tests, situational judgment tests, and job simulations, which comprehensively evaluate a candidate’s suitability for a specific role.




Best practices in talent assessments

Best practices serve as a roadmap for organizations to utilize talent assessments. These guidelines represent the most viable action to help hiring managers conduct talent assessments. Some of the best practices are-


Using suitable candidate evaluation software

Hiring the most suitable talent is the goal of any company. Talent acquisition experts must optimally utilize technology to recruit suitable candidates. They can perform an initial analysis of top recruitment assessment platforms that are cost-effective, objective, faster and require minimal human intervention. Efficient and scalable talent assessment programs help make data-driven decisions based on the candidates’ skills and abilities, reducing the risk of unconscious bias. Mercer | Mettl has some of the best online recruitment tools to assess candidates based on the required skills, abilities and knowledge.


Ensuring descriptive talent acquisition process

The recruitment process should be informative and precise. Talent acquisition experts can map the top fit using the competency mapping process. It is a process where recruiters match the required job competencies for a specific job role with the various available assessment tools to shortlist the most suitable candidate. The talent acquisition process should have a flexible and agile approach. The hiring experts should adapt quickly to the dynamic industry developments, competitors’ openings, seasonality, applicants’ interests and expectations.


Selecting appropriate tools for a holistic assessment

Online talent assessments are the most appropriate way to recruit top talent, saving financial resources. Mercer | Mettl offers all-in-one assessments that cater to diverse recruitment needs. Such talent assessments are scalable and affordable and enable companies and professionals to make well-informed decisions, whether in employee recruitment, training or promotion. An extensive test library can help employers measure applicants’ abilities and existing employees’ skill sets. They can make smart hiring decisions by exploring psychometric, role-centric, cognitive and technical assessments.


How Mercer | Mettl can help

The online assessment platform offers research-backed assessments, an efficient cloud platform and in-depth analytics. Mercer | Mettl, a leading talent assessment service provider, enables clients to create customized talent assessment tests across the employee life cycle, including pre-hiring screening, candidate skills assessment, training and development program for employees/student certification exams, etc.

Hiring managers can use its extensive library of tests and simulators to accurately evaluate the candidate’s knowledge, underlying abilities, behavioural attributes, and skills. In addition, a wide range of psychometric, cognitive, role-centric, and technical assessments is available for making well-informed recruiting decisions.

A thorough, well-researched and analytics-led approach is pivotal in making informed decisions, and Mercer | Mettl’s empirical assessment platform enables the same. Some popular online assessments offered by Mercer | Mettl are the Psychometric Test, Cognitive Test, Behavioural Test, Technical Test, Coding Test and Communication Skills Test.



Talent assessments are valuable tools organizations can utilize to evaluate individuals’ skills, abilities, and potential. By employing various assessment methods, such as cognitive ability tests, personality assessments, and job simulations, companies can gain deeper insights into candidates’ suitability for specific roles. Talent assessments provide a standardized and objective way to measure competencies, identify high-potential individuals, and make informed talent decisions. These assessments aid hiring and contribute to talent development, succession planning, and overall workforce optimization. With their ability to enhance decision-making, improve productivity, and drive organizational success, talent assessments have become an indispensable resource for modern businesses in building high-performing teams.



1. What is an example of a talent assessment?

2. What is the nine-box talent review?

3. What is the difference between talent assessments and a talent assessment marketplace?

4. What are the three components of conducting a talent assessment?

5. What is a talent assessment platform?

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated May 16 2024

Written by

Archita Bharadwaj has worked as a Content writer at Mercer | Mettl since April 2023. With her research background, she writes varied forms of content, including blogs, ebooks, and case studies, among other forms.

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