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Talent Assessment | 3 min Read

A Guide to Employee Talent Assessment

Uncovering Talent And The Science Behind Talent

Talent is an individual’s natural ability or skill that can be manifested from the five core elements. Let’s understand ‘talent’ with an example:

A hiring expert is seeking the best talent for a leadership role in marketing. They will identify five core elements in an applicant. They are:

1. Personality traits:

It refers to the individual’s pattern of thoughts and feelings and provides recruiters informed insight into their personality

An applicant for a leadership position should have five core traits, such as Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism, to be a good leader. These are detailed below:

a) Openness: A leader who is open to employee suggestions and comfortable in discussing concerns with team members.

b) Conscientiousness: An individual with a futuristic-approach than being spontaneous.

c) Extraversion: An individual who is sociable, energetic and talkative.

d) Agreeableness: An applicant who is sympathetic, helping and kind

e) Neuroticism: Implies the emotional instability and negative emotions, such as depression and anxiety.

2. 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.

3. Cognitive Ability:

The candidate who has the requisite problem-solving, critical thinking, and verbal reasoning skills to handle a complex project.

4. Spoken English:

It refers to the applicant’s language ability to interact with people fluently and clearly. A leader with good communicable skills can convey the organizational goals to the team members and other stakeholders. And there is adequate coordination between the manager and the employees.

5. Technical Skills:

It refers to the candidate’s subject knowledge for a specific job role – a candidate with excellent domain knowledge of marketing and experience in heading a marketing project.

Hence, a talent acquisition expert defines the top talent in five core elements. The applicant matching all the five features of talent would be eligible for the marketing head profile.

What is Talent Assessment?

It’s a process used by employers to identify the right job candidates for the company. Besides that, a talent assessment predicts an applicant’s on-the-job performance and retention in the long-term.

Understanding Recruitment Assessment

Talent Assessments are pre-employment tests used by companies to recruit the best candidate for a specific job requirement. Large companies use hiring assessments to evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, personality, behavior, and work style. Moreover, it helps employers to understand the applicant’s on-the-job performance and whether they will continue with the company for a long duration. 

Talent acquisition tests are critical components for company performance and success, especially amid today’s turbulent economic landscape. 

As companies revive their business, they are apprehensive about what the new ‘normal,’ post the pandemic, would usher. Much like other industries and sectors, the training and development ecosystem is impacted. Talent acquisition experts are planning to entirely revamp the hiring strategy to employ the new workforce. Effective Talent Assessments tools can assist companies in identifying and attracting top talent.

Impact of Talent Assessment on Hiring

Today, firms are competing fiercely for talent, and a recent Harward 2019 study indicates that 26% of critical vacancies remain vacant even after five months. Large companies invest enormous resources, financial and otherwise, in advertising and recruiting the best candidate as the ultimate goal for organizational success is recruiting and onboarding outstanding talent.

The recruitment process of hiring applicants has evolved manifold with technological advancements and numerous developments in the training and recruitment industry. Earlier, limited talent acquisition assessments were available to assess the candidates for employment. They included subject knowledge/written tests, face-to-face interviews, telephonic conversations, video conferencing, etc.

Now, companies such as Mercer | Mettl have created diverse talent assessment tools and methods to assess the best candidates. Modern recruitment tools such as psychometric assessments, behavioral tests, job simulation, cognitive tests, etc. save time and expense. A recruiter has every company resource to hire the best and qualified candidates from the world over. This online platform is integrated and helps track applicants via comprehensive hiring tests. Besides, it is customized and enables you to create tailor-made tests or create your pre and post-employment test.

As per the 2019 Linkedin report, 58% of hiring professionals use soft skills assessments to evaluate the applicants, and 60% of recruiters are positive that these talent assessments would substantially impact in the next five years.

What is Talent Assessment Framework?

It’s a holistic framework that enables hiring experts to assess the candidates both internally and externally through the same lens. Let’s understand the process in detail:

  • The candidate assessment model identifies five core elements of talent that are personality traits, behavioral traits, cognitive, spoken English, and technical skills
  • The framework lists the core competencies for each core element. Some of the competencies for each core element are mentioned below: 

a) Personality traits competencies are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism. 

b) Behavioral traits competencies are personality attributes, Analytical attributes, Interpersonal Skills, and Leadership skills. 

c) Core cognitive competencies to measure cognitive intelligence are fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, core brain functions ( Attention, Speed, memory, visualization). 

d) Core technical competencies for each job role are different. The technical competency for the Java role could be an experience in object-oriented programming, Java build tools, error and exception handling, etc. Similarly, technical competency for a financial analyst would be different. 

e) Core spoken English competencies for a job role are pronunciation, fluency, grammar and listening comprehension. 

  • Identify the assessment tools for each core element to find the right job candidate for a particular job position.
  • Map the required competencies for a job position with the assessment tools, such as Psychometric, Cognitive, Behavioral, Technical, etc. to identify the right candidate for the job.

Some other elements that a talent acquisition expert expects from the applicant are listed down:

  • Experiences: The quantum of experience in doing a particular task plays a pivotal role in undertaking a new job role.
  • Education/Knowledge: Education refers to an individual’s formal degree or certification. Knowledge can be reading a book or a command over a particular subject.
  • Accomplishments: An individual’s achievements in personal and professional life. For example: Being a star performer in your team.

Best Practices of Candidate Mapping Assessments

Best Practices of Candidate Mapping Assessments


Use of right recruitment software

Hiring the best talent is the ultimate goal for any company, and they spend substantial sums to achieve the desired results. Talent acquisition experts must optimally utilize technology to recruit the right candidates. You should do your homework by making a list of recruitment software programs that are cost-effective, objective, faster, and require no human input. 

Efficient and scalable pre-employment software programs will help you 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. Please click on the link for more details.


A Descriptive Talent Acquisition Process

The recruitment assessment process should be informative and precise. Else the new hire’s job expectations may not be met. Talent acquisition experts can map the best talent through 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 best candidate. 

For example, a candidate attempts a behavioral assessment for a managerial role in the form of realistic work-related scenarios. The hiring expert will map the candidate’s behavioral competencies required for a manager profile, with the behavioral assessment tools, to shortlist the suitable candidate. Some online behavioral tools, such as caselets, will examine an applicant’s business acumen and prompt decision-making skills. 

In contrast, a case study simulator will evaluate the candidate’s analytical and innovative mindset. The candidate will be onboarded if the recruiter feels they are the right match for the job role. 

A candidate is screened through various assessments, including behavioral, psychometric, cognitive, coding and technical, etc. Here is the link offering key insights into behavioral assessment tools and how they add value to the hiring process, for more information on the candidate mapping process. 

The talent acquisition process should have a flexible and agile approach. The hiring experts should be proactive and quick in adapting to the dynamic industry developments, competitors’ openings, seasonality, applicants’ interests and expectations. 


The Right Tools for a Holistic Assessment

It is imperative for organizations to continually evolve their businesses with the changing market demands and customer needs and preferences. The ongoing pandemic has impacted market sentiments globally, and it is an opportune time for talent acquisition experts to realign their strategies to leverage the maximum benefits. 

Organizations are battling competitors to hire the best candidate. The right recruitment tools can benefit companies in hiring the best workforce. Mercer | Mettl has all the assessment tools under one roof for candidate assessment. Some of them are psychometric tests, behavioral tests, cognitive tests, technical tests, spoken English tests. You can choose from the vast assessment tools offerings to evaluate candidates, depending on the job role and job function. 


Virtual Solutions for efficiency and future-proofing

With most companies practicing ‘work from home,’ recruiters must substantially alter their hiring strategies. Online assessments are the best way to recruit top talent – saving financial and other resources. Mercer | Mettl offers all-in-one assessments that cater to your diverse recruitment needs. These assessments are scalable and affordable and enable companies and professionals to make well-informed decisions – whether in recruitment, training or promotion of employees. 

An extensive test library can help you measure applicants’ abilities and the shortlisted employees’ current skill sets. You can make smart hiring decisions by exploring a wide range of psychometric, role-centric, cognitive and technical assessments, among others.

Popular Recruitment Assessment Methods

Let’s examine how popular talent assessment methods play a crucial role in the hiring processes. Some of them are listed below:

Popular Recruitment Assessment Methods

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

Behavioral assessment is a tool used by recruiters to measure an applicant’s human behavior. It assesses a candidate’s generic personality, motivations and emotional intelligence to evaluate their suitability for specific industries, functions and roles. Besides, 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 a series of work-related scenarios with possible courses of action. They have to choose either the best option or rank the possible actions based on their effectiveness.

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

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

A technical assessment evaluates 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. The competencies in technical assessment vary with the job function, job role and industry. This test enables recruiters to filter out technical talent from a vast pool of candidates, using a combination of application-based questions, such as MCQs and simulators, to measure job-relevant skills. 

Coding Assessment measures the applicant’s know-how and evaluates them on languages and technologies, such as Java, Python, C++, Oracle, SQL, etc. The recruiters shortlist candidates with good scores in coding assessments. 

Spoken English Assessment measures a candidate’s pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and listening comprehension. The pre-employment test has become the most important criteria in the hiring process. It is the best filtration tool to assess prospects for customer-facing roles and industries, such as sales, BPO, hospitality, media house, branding, etc.

In addition to these talent assessment tools, there is another candidate assessment tool, generally used by companies to screen applicants.

  • Work Sample/Job Simulations


Job Simulations

A job simulator is a talent assessment method where candidates perform the tasks in real-time. A recruiter assesses candidates on organizational situations that are performed on the job. For example, a sales representative can be asked to deal with customers and resolve their issues over a chat. A hypothetical scenario can test their analytical and logical thinking skills. This type of talent mapping assessment is similar to a work sample. However, the former involves more ‘on-the-spot’ work. 

Recruiters conduct job simulation during the interview or via online hiring assessment tools. Job simulation exercise measures the candidate’s way of thinking and handling a complex situation with limited resources.


Some of the popular job simulators are listed below:

Coding Simulator

The coding simulator is a coding assessment that analyzes 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, 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. Besides, an online programming test can be conducted on a coding test platform where you can evaluate the candidate’s test cases of your choice and code’s effectiveness.

Online Behavioral Tools

  • Situational Judgment Tests: To analyze, rank, rate, or select the most effective response in role-specific scenarios.
  • In-box Exercises: To choose the best possible responses to the issues presented in the mails. 
  • Caselets Sets: To solve the problems highlighted in a business scenario
  • Case Study Simulators: To find relevant information, diagnose issues and recommend actions.

Offline Behavioral Tools

  • Group Discussion: The candidate’s ability to influence, communicate and work in a team.
  • Behavioral Interviews: A detailed description of the candidate’s understanding of a given business situation is observed. 
  • Role-Plays: The ability to enact a specific role within a business constraint
  • Case Presentation: A candidate’s ability to communicate with a group of people is evaluated.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

The online assessment platform offers research-backed assessments, an efficient cloud platform and in-depth analytics. Mercer | Mettl, a talent assessment expert, helps clients create customized candidate mapping tests across the employee life cycle, including pre-hiring screening, candidate skills assessment, training and development program for employee/students, certification exam and contests, etc.

Using its extensive library of tests and simulators, you can easily evaluate the candidate’s knowledge, underlying abilities, behavioral attributes and skills with utmost accuracy. 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 to making judicious decisions, and Mercer | Mettl’s empirical assessment platform enables the same.

Some of the popular online assessments offered by Mercer | Mettl are listed below:

Psychometric tests:

It measures candidates’ four critical aspects of human personality and assess whether they are a good match for a specific job requirement. The four key aspects of human personality are positive personality traits, dark personality traits, motivation, values, preferences and cognitive ability.

Cognitive Tests:

It assesses the applicant’s critical thinking ability, verbal reasoning, numerical ability, problem-solving skills, etc. to execute a specific task, depending on the job function and type.

Behavioral Tests:

This test measures the candidate's human behavior and course of action in a given organizational situation. The recruiter measures an individual’s behavioral competencies, such as skills, knowledge and personal traits.

Technical Tests:

It analyzes the applicant’s subjective knowledge of specific domains, such as IT, accounts, sales, HR, marketing and operations, etc.

Coding Test:

A coding assessment evaluates the candidate’s ability to write code. Mercer | Mettl offers customized coding assessments for applicants to choose ready-made tests from a comprehensive test library. The coder can attempt assessment in a risk-free, secure and proctored coding environment.

Spoken English Tests:

It evaluates the candidate’s spoken skills, such as pronunciation, fluency, grammar and listening comprehension for job roles, such as BPO, sales and marketing, etc.


How do I prepare for an assessment test?

 There are a few tips you can follow to pass the assessment test successfully:

  • Prepare well and brush up your concepts with practice exercises
  • Be informed about what entails an assessment such as cognitive, psychometric, aptitude or spoken English questions
  • Prepare for the interview
  • Practice IQ tests, mock assessments
  • You can conduct a personal SWOT analysis 
  • Be well rested before the assessment 

What do employers look for in an assessment test?

 The four critical elements for success on-the-job are mentioned below:

  • Skills
  • Aptitude
  • Knowledge
  • Personality traits

What is a written assessment in an interview? 

A written assessment can be a subject knowledge test for a specific job role asked by an employer in the interview. The recruiter will analyze the candidate’s writing ability, comprehension and thinking ability.

What other techniques can be used by recruiters to assess talent?

Some techniques that can be used by talent acquisition experts to evaluate the candidate are listed:

  • Job simulations
  • Psychometric assessments
  • Virtual job interviews
  • Behavioral assessments
  • Cognitive tests
  • Coding tests
  • Spoken English tests

How to take an assessment test?

An assessment test can either be taken online or at an exam center. The candidate should be relaxed and well-prepared before attempting the test. Besides, the applicant should manage their time and answer questions by reading all instructions carefully.

How do I pass the talent assessment test?

An applicant who is well-prepared, confident and has thoroughly practiced question papers can ace the test smoothly. Besides, the candidate should be prepared for questions that may be asked for each different assessment component. Components in the test can be personality tests and interviews. Besides, you can also make a list of strengths and weaknesses as they can be discussed during an assessment.

What are the four components of conducting Talent Assessment?

  • A well-thought-out competency framework that spells out all the skills, knowledge and attributes required by the organization for present and future success.
  • The assessment should be customized to the competencies required for each job role. It will help recruiters in finding the right candidates for the specific job position.
  • The assessment platform needs to be agile and robust to ensure scalability and security.
  • Talent assessment should provide clear, analytical and in-depth performance reports of the candidates.

What is talent assessment test?

A talent assessment test, also known as a pre-employment assessment, is a well-structured process used by employers to identify the company’s most suitable job candidates. The talent assessment test comprises various kinds of questions, job simulations, etc., that employers include for assessing the applicant’s performance and competency for a particular role.

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated March 3 2021

Surbhi Sharma

Written by

Working in the content marketing industry for 6 years, Surbhi has written interesting and creative content pieces on Digital Marketing, Technology, Human resource, Accounting software, Home decor etc. She shares her knowledge on several web-platforms like Digital Vidya, Pulse, and Social Media platforms. A mother of one daughter, she loves to spend time with family and pursue her creative stints such as sketching and singing.

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