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Talent Assessment | 10 Min Read

Best Features and Benefits of Online Assessment Software

Online assessment Tool

It’s a well-known fact that organizations using talent assessment tools are more likely to attract the right talent for various roles. Similarly, trainees/students who are evaluated through online testing platforms (via tests and quizzes) tend to fare better in classrooms. 

Some years ago, it was common for educators and trainers to use age-old tools of assessments, i.e., paper-based tests, or usual quizzes. They would use conventional methods to perform a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Sorting through an array of questions
  • Identifying the best ones
  • Arranging the order of the questions
  • Administering assessments accompanied by an invigilator
  • Add to that the time-taking process of grading and providing feedback 

However, changing the mode of conducting evaluations from paper to computer doesn’t change the fact that some issues persisted. The questions were to be typed checked for repetition, plagiarism, and other errors. Selecting qualified invigilators and physical location for conducting exams was another obstruction. Then came the era of online assessment tools that made all the difference!

While the offline process of evaluation didn’t make things easy for instructors and teachers, online assessment tools enabled them to get rid of the burden of large-scale customization and simplify their lives. And the use of an online assessment tool for evaluation has substantially increased, as is evidenced by the fact that the Global eLearning market for 2018-2023 will be worth $65.41 Billion. This staggering growth rate has paved the way for several e-Learning tools – online assessment tools being the high-priority.

Whether they are trainers, teachers, or instructors, they’ll have to adopt an online assessment system for facilitating the smooth running of knowledge tests. But before that, it’s imperative to understand everything about this tool, its applications, and how to choose the right online test platform!

So, what do you mean by an online assessment tool?

In simple terms, an assessment tool comprises a variety of questions used to conduct online assessments on a web/cloud-based platform that includes processes like administering, registering, and reporting.

Online assessment software: What’s in it for teachers?

Online tools are used in preparing all kinds of assessments, such as unit or chapter tests, academic quizzes, midterm, and final exams. Such tools are an excellent medium for examining students’ knowledge on a variety of topics. The online testing platform includes a myriad of features – the ease of writing different types of questions, namely subjective and objective questions, and auto-grading functions, to name a few. 

In general, teachers employ assessment tools in creating two types of assessment:

Formative Assessments are useful for keeping tabs on learners’ progress and getting insights that are essential for teachers in improving their teaching skills as well as for students in enhancing their learning curve. 

Summative Assessments are useful for measuring student learning upon course completion by comparing it with a relevant benchmark. Regardless of the type of assessment tools used by the teachers, there is not much difference in terms of the features and functionalities. Online tests are a paperless medium of evaluation and are auto-graded, that’s why teachers can save lots of time and effort while creating tests. Besides, instructors can also get benefitted in terms of:

  • viewing assessment reports
  • supervising students through online classrooms
  • granting certificates to learners

Teachers who have utilized online assessment tools have observed the following plus points: 

  • Ample Room for Experimentation

Online assessment systems are easy to integrate with the existing methods to enhance the effectiveness of teaching methods and make learning easier for students.Using these tools, instructors can devise different teaching styles by deploying different testing methods such as MCQs, fill-in-the-blanks, essay-type questions, or true-false questions.

  • Instantaneous Grading and Feedback

The auto-grading feature enables teachers to improve their efficiency by cutting down on the need to pick each question manually and grade the answer. A test/exam created using an online tool will enable teachers to generate dynamic feedback based on the answers to specific questions.

  • Conduct Assessment Anytime, Anywhere!

Online assessment tools can act as an excellent distribution channel that provides teachers with an option to administer tests to the students, irrespective of their physical location. This way conducting a test anytime, anywhere, is incredibly easy. Since the test happens online, there is no set limit for the number of students who can participate in the exam.Teachers must ensure that they have shared the test/quiz with the examinees on their specific email ids. Once the test is finished, students can be informed about the results.   

  • Monitoring Students’ Progress

The online test platform allows effective monitoring of each participant’s performance at fixed intervals, which is a useful feature. All online tests and their outcomes are available on a cloud-based system- a feature that adds convenience for teachers by enabling them to compare the older results against the recent ones. Instructors will, in turn, be able to keep a tab on student’s progress and conduct performance analysis in a much better way. 

  • Online assessment software: What’s in it for Businesses?

If used correctly, talent assessment tools can positively impact the organizational key performance indicators, such as recruiting costs, employee engagement, hiring manager satisfaction, employee performance, and more. Businesses can make the most of online assessment software to screen eligible candidates for roles and evaluate the employees’ current skills. Similarly, HR managers can include pre-employment assessments in their processes to gauge the skills of potential candidates on various skills, such as MS Office suite, healthcare, IT language, etc. Here are some points that make online assessment tools imperative necessity for businesses:

  • Effective recruitment process

Decision making is an integral part of pre-hiring assessments. HRs can use these tools to accelerate this process. The online assessment tool provides these professionals with objective data regarding the skills, cognitive abilities, personality, and work ethics of candidates. Likewise, hiring time and cost of hiring get reduced substantially.

  • Enhanced employee productivity

One of the most notable aspects of the online testing platform is that the test results are automatically saved on the cloud, readily accessible whenever required. It’s incredibly easy to view and compare test outcomes of recent and older exams to provide employees with a clear idea about their performances and areas that require improvement. Productivity levels of employees will maximize with such an intervention. HR professionals can use internal employee evaluation results as a ready reckoner, should they wish to seek high potential talent for leadership development.

  • Retentivity of knowledge

Employers can use online assessment tools for assessing the retention ability of employees. How? Times when line managers conduct a training session on any specific operation or introduce a new business concept, they analyze the grasping power of their team members by performing a post-training assessment. Conducting such assessments would prove useful in enhancing employee performance. And employees will get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

Why is There a Need for Online Assessments in Hiring?

The emergence of online assessment tools for hiring and workforce development has helped organizations hire the right talent for competitive advantage. With software, recruiters can now quickly assess across domains, regardless of time and place.

Interestingly, candidate evaluation software includes customized assessment tests for a highly diversified clientele, be it for the corporate sector, educational institutions, universities, and government bodies, among others. Irrespective of its use for admissions management, administering examinations, or evaluating individual performance, online assessment tools have become indispensable.

Going through the routine of organizing recruitment drives, job fairs, and convincing board members of a company are possible scenarios that are not new to the hiring stakeholders. The constant issue of maintaining an adequate headcount for unique business requirements, be it a new project, service offerings, and a new line of business, etc., is evident.

However, it is no secret that hiring experts have limited functional capacity when sifting through vast volumes of candidates, and the board members are aware of the perils. Several suggestions are usually laid out to improve the hiring process, such as contacting recruitment agencies, creating a job portal, or investing in employer branding activities, etc.

All these methods involve higher costs and are more likely to affect the bottom line. It’s often the case that existing hiring strategies call for a revision, but they are too much of a hassle. For example, calling up recruiters, meeting them, and asking for their time and researching on improving hiring strategies seem time-consuming propositions.

Online proctored tests and interviews are good options to secure candidates from Tier-2 and 3 colleges, who, otherwise, are out of bounds. Apart from being the safest mode of employee engagement, online assessment tools can fill the gap in the shortage of talent.

How Online Assessment Technology is a Boon for HR Managers?

According to a survey of job seekers, conducted by career coach Jane Downes- 40% of candidates experienced an ‘unacceptable time-lapse’ between response to a first-round interview and receiving a second interview. While this is on the candidate side, on the organization side, there is always the pressure of filling a particular vacant position and the looming possibility of “wrong hires”. There is a disconnect, and the onus is on the HR managers to fix it. HR managers of business organizations have to embrace a calculated approach to exploit technology to the best advantage of the “people business”.

Existing recruitment systems need to adapt to achieve these objectives. The long and tiring process of an old-fashioned pen and paper test, which often lacks transparency and adds to physical logistics, has to be avoided. The need of the hour is to balance between lowering the operational risks and improving HR communication through valid and reliable assessments. Taking a cue from online assessment platforms is the first step.

Online assessments are a cost-effective way to ensure that business organizations are hiring the right people. Here are a few reasons why,

For Streamlining the Screening Process

Online assessment platforms offer various tools, including pre-employment screening, personality assessments, and skills testing, to navigate the swamp of CVs and applicants that can easily drown a recruiter. Since tests are web-based, there is no need for the candidates to come for the first round of an interview (written test). This type of examination significantly reduces the time recruiters spend making phone calls, arranging venues to schedule written tests, and often preparing the tests themselves. Recruiters can easily skip the first-level screening to directly interact with pre-qualified candidates who have a higher probability of getting selected.

For Increasing Your Campus Reach

It is self-evident that conducting campus recruitment or college recruitment/walk-in drives is a tedious job. Not only do organizations end up wasting time and money, but there is also always a limitation on the number of campuses they can reach. With online assessment platforms, providing auto-invigilation via online proctoring, campus recruitment tests can be conducted across multiple colleges simultaneously, without the actual presence of an invigilator.

For Hiring The Right  Candidate

So he can sing, he can dance but can he code? If you are a technical recruiter, don’t let these questions haunt you. The “wrong hire” situation can be easily avoided by measuring candidates’ skills using short skill-based simulation tests. It will be interesting for someone involved in the HR processes to know how easily innovation can drive hiring, just by adding a quick puzzle (Fizzbuzz), quiz, or test using an online assessment platform. While geeks have fun cracking the “code”, you can have fun hiring the right candidate.

For Hiring for an Unfamiliar Field

According to CBS, recruiters often hire for positions that they know “nothing about”. This truth is no solace for the HR department, where turnaround time and turnover go hand in hand. This we feel is the best part about an online assessment platform, it lets you customize. Operational Manager, instead of an HR recruiter, can create a standard test for the desired profile and voila! recruiters can simply send the standard online test to the candidates. This eliminates two rounds of technical and operation manager interviews. As an extra measure, recruiters can easily add a layer of psychometric assessment to the online test to check the interest level, job-fit, and stress-tolerance of a candidate.

It is interesting to note how these same features can quickly transform into a seamless employee engagement tool, allowing training managers to track performances, measure learning needs, and enhance training effectiveness. On top of that, the support is always a phone call away. With these features and many more, embracing online assessments make the all-important task of measuring the suitability of a candidate streamlined and light on logistics.

How Different Sectors are Using Online Assessment Software?

1. Corporate Sector

The shift from manual to automated processes is continual. However, it is an alarming fact that numerous recruiters yet consider traditional hiring practices to meet their needs. Organizations are taking to online assessment platforms to speed up their recruitment processes and onboard the best talent with the least possible effort and time.

The ease with which the potential of entry-level and experienced professionals are assessed using automated tools and online assessments highlight the practicality of the platform. Moreover, the platform assists companies in making data-driven recruitment decisions to hire the best talent and identify the essential needs of the workforce. Undoubtedly, organizations have greater leeway to assess candidates for cognitive, behavioral, and communication skills, and to measure their domain knowledge.

An organization is only as good as its best employees. A well-thought-out, strategic approach to adopting assessment-based hiring greatly supports in identifying and retaining the best talent. These assessment platforms speed up processes, enabling companies to assess high volumes of candidates, optimize their recruitment process, bring down costs, and improve the quality of hires.

As organizational needs are ever-evolving, assessment software is useful in matching candidates’ skill sets to organizational requirements. Additionally, these platforms can help facilitate upskilling programs for developing the workforce for emerging opportunities. Using software’s proven assessments, employers recruit and retain high potential candidates with the utmost ease, which translates to enhanced productivity and better job performance.

2. Educational Institutions

Outdated exam delivery methods have made way for digital means. With the advent of online examination management systems, the examination process has become more streamlined, be it a semester or entrance test. And it bodes well for universities and colleges that want to ensure quality education, alongside the in-depth analysis of students’ knowledge and skills. Reinventing examination models through online assessment is important for every organization amid digitalization.

Test administrators need the ease of measuring relevant competencies with precision while keeping exams updated and relevant, without the concern of impersonation. Ensuring transparency while administering examinations is critical for getting valid and reliable results.

That’s why online assessment platforms encompass everything, starting from application processing, online test scheduling to test center management. Thus, planning and delivering secure tests and examinations have become incredibly easy for leading institutions, PSUs, government departments, and corporate establishments.

3. Government Sector

The public sector is also not left untouched by the aspects of using online assessment software. These computer-based assessment solutions are useful in recruiting top talent for various state and central government departments. An in-depth skill assessment, backed by analytics and well-defined test reports, can help to identify credible candidates in a very short timeframe.

Public sector organizations are up for recruiting highly skilled professionals in a competitive market. Despite that, there are fewer available public sector positions for applicants, making it difficult for government agencies to find potential candidates.

What Features to Look for in an Online Assessment Software?

Here’s a rundown of the features you must look for in an assessment platform:

1. An Assessment Battery

online_assessment_platform_features_Assessment_Battery

When measuring candidates’ skill sets, personality, and abilities, an assessment battery is the most efficient method. A test battery is a set of tests, clustered together, aimed at evaluating candidates’ reasoning and problem-solving skills for a particular position. Assessment batteries vary from role to role, based on the needs of the employers and job requirements.

For instance, organizations that are looking to hire coders may want to administer a coding test to assess the applicant’s knack for coding. They may also want to administer a psychometric test to evaluate important positive characteristics such as trustworthiness, honesty, and motivation. Similarly, administering cognitive tests would simplify technical hiring and training for organizations. Then there are tests like aptitude, sales profiler, and domain, which not only critically assess sales competencies but also ascertain the functional skill of teams. All these tests, combined, constitute a test battery, which can also be administered as a sequence of assessments.

2. Integrated Platform

online_assessment_platform_features_Integrated_Platform

Implementing spot-on hiring processes using the best candidate evaluation software is critical. There’s nothing like a self-manageable online platform that structures online interviews and encompasses scientific assessments in a streamlined workflow. Such a platform works well in streamlining the recruitment process, whether it be for keeping track of applicants, or evaluating them via assessments, or interviewing them.

There are some excellent features typical of an excellent online software platform: candidate management, online assessment, and online interviews. Concerning the candidate management, it is imperative that the platform adequately manages applicants and creates customizable workflows effortlessly. It should include a plethora of different assessments to evaluate candidates for varying roles and responsibilities. Moreover, conducting online interviews should include collaborative tools, alongside provisions to immaculately grade and maintain records digitally.

3. Customization

online_assessment_platform_features_Customization

A bland-looking assessment platform cannot strike a chord with respondents, which brings to the fore the need for a customizable assessment platform that suits all needs. Such a platform allows users to either pick a custom-built test from its vast library or helps them to create their test by either using standardized questions or providing an option to add new questions, depending on a job-specific competency framework.

The responsiveness of the platform is also important in every aspect of the user experience – adaptability across all screen sizes doesn’t restrict users from accessing the tool in different devices. An effective assessment system is well-equipped to conduct systematic and fair assessments. It’s also scalable enough to perform a multitude of tests, namely psychometric, aptitude, cognitive, and coding, to name a few.

4. Better Candidate Experience

online_assessment_platform_features_Better_Candidate_Experience

A robust assessment platform caters to the varied needs of businesses seeking to build a strong HiPo pipeline, renew their training and development processes, and create effective talent acquisition strategies. What makes a platform high on features is the one that also considers the candidate experience. In addition to an easy user interface, questions available on the platform should be in a language comprehensible to the candidates. It helps a candidate to take those tests which are created with precision, not to mention the added support of images, videos, flash, and other rich media content.

5. Online Proctoring

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online_assessment_platform_features_Online_Proctoring

Reliability and security are the two crucial features of a credible candidate evaluation software. Conducting an assessment in a highly cheating-proof environment is critical for evaluators. Consequently, it will become much easier for examiners to detect all forms of malpractices using AI-backed, anti-cheat solutions that include real-time monitoring, secure browsing, and authenticity check.

Administering examinations on a large scale is no mean feat, but online remote proctoring makes it reasonably easy to prevent candidates from cheating. It stands to reason that those indulging in malpractices can be kept at bay with essential features such as facial recognition, multiple device detection, device detection, and distraction detection, etc. A secure online assessment platform ensures that any candidate who indulges in cheating gets flagged during the examination.

6. Data Security

online_assessment_platform_features_Data_Security

With the objective of data security, assessment platforms assure safety. There is much at stake while monitoring the applicant’s activity during an online assessment, which includes everything ranging from candidate’s data, and question sets to benchmarking reports.

Hence organizations must have their data stored in the cloud. If the online assessment data is well encrypted, the chances of misusing it are minimized. Data encryption prevents unauthorized access to question sets. Undoubtedly, employers can be assured of the sanctity of the results in such a secure environment.

7. Different Types of Test Questions

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online_assessment_platform_features_Diversity_of_Question_Types

Ascertaining the justifiability of assessments without the inclusion of competency questions would be a futile exercise. Evaluators need to include a variety of question types in their assessment platform to measure candidates’ knowledge levels.

Below are some commonly used question types that aim to give a better understanding of  the candidate’s thought process:

  • Case Studies
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Subjective Writing
  • Coding Simulators
  • Guesstimate Questions
  • Diagram-Based Questions
  • Spreadsheet Questions
  • Fill-in-the-blank Questions

8. Analytical Reports

online_assessment_platform_features_analytical_report

An in-depth analysis of an individual’s performance is possible with comprehensive analytical reports, which are generated by the assessment software. What makes software worth-considering is its ability to tailor-make the offerings as per the clients’ needs.

Custom reports are more helpful in providing key insights into candidates’ performance than standard template reports. When it comes to catering to specific organizational needs, flexible reporting is a quicker, more convenient way of going about it. Today, a data-driven recruitment strategy is the best approach to hiring top-quality employees.

9. White Labelling

online_assessment_platform_features_white_labeling

A white label is a legal approval to allow one party to place its brand name on a product/service produced by another party, typically for a reasonable fee. White labeling boosts a brand’s public awareness and enhances the credibility of the company’s products/services.

Online assessment platforms that consist of white-labeling features can help organizations to build a strong brand around themselves, rather than accrediting someone else for the services rendered. These platforms make it easy to customize the testing interface for companies to reflect their brand’s personality succinctly. Besides, they take personalization to another level by allowing brands to upload their logo, change the interface background, and the color scheme as needed.

10. Secure API Support

online_assessment_platform_features_secure_API_Support

It’s well-known that APIs have made life much easier by reducing the need for human intervention and allowing the construction of custom workflows that significantly reduce cost, time, and efforts. With APIs, users or companies can customize their most-in-demand services. API is a software-to-software interface with its own set of programming standards and instructions that allow easy access to a web-based software application.

Moreover, it’s quite evident to see some of the most sought-after online assessment platforms, releasing their APIs so that web developers can work conveniently with these core applications. For example, Mercer-Mettl’s assessment platform offers its REST APIs that work exceptionally with search engines, and seamlessly supports all major LMSs – Moodle and Blackboard, to name a few.

11. Invest in a Multi-Linguistic Platform

Suppose you need to conduct exams in several remote locations in the country and beyond. In that case, you must consider selecting a platform available in multiple language options for different regions and nationalities.

12. Compatibility Across the Devices

The proliferation of mobile devices has opened a can of opportunities for learners to take their online tests on the go. At the same time, it has necessitated the technologies that allow the seamless conduct of computer-based exams on any device, including desktops, tablets, and mobiles. It simplifies the entire procedure and makes it enriching for the candidates.

13. Multiple Simulators

Always prefer deploying online skills assessments that offer multiple simulators for measuring the practical experience. It allows the evaluation of blue-collar skills along with specialized skills. Check the availability of features like code snippet evaluator with IDE integration, online coding editor, custom library, and evaluation flexibility. You can check the query writing skills by choosing a platform enabled by the Database Query simulator. For service-oriented QPs, there must be simulators that test the business acumen of candidates. Such a multiplicity of options helps you make an informed selection of a simulator that satisfies your testing needs.

14. Periodic Result Analysis

You can make data-driven decisions by selecting a system that offers periodic result analysis and reports. These reports provide a detailed summary of candidates and NOS level analysis, training partner analysis, score distribution analysis, performance criteria, and testing items analysis. Such a comprehensive analysis largely simplifies the timely reporting of results.

The consistency of the skills assessment test and its reliability are also essential factors to be considered apart from the technical aspects. Always invest in a system that is developed by professionals after gaining years of experience.

15. 24×7 Support

online_assessment_platform_features_24_7_support

Providing round the clock support to the customers would make for a useful feature. An online assessment platform is regarded as a trustworthy product if it sincerely addresses customers’ queries. Even though it is expected of the service providers to support their clients at all times, not many meet customer expectations. It all boils down to keeping specific points in mind as a service provider:

  • Having a capable customer support team and sincere account managers to solve clients problems
  • Providing  24X7 software support to help customers at every step of their journey
  • Providing the ease of connecting via phone, chat, or email for clarification on any doubts or queries
  • Facilitating step-by-step onboarding and training session from product experts for customers convenience
  • Offering strategic guidance for creating custom assessments using the best practices from the beginning to the end
  • Assigning dedicated account managers that keep the clients updated on the status of their assessments while strictly adhering to data-protection guidelines
  • Sharing timely updates on new product features, value-added services, and vital insights to build the best hiring process

The Mercer | Mettl Way

Mercer | Mettl’s online assessment platform is a holistic tool for effectively conducting recruitment, campus hiring, training, succession planning, certifications test, and much more. The platform is built for accuracy and efficiency and supports a wide variety of assessments such as psychometric, language proficiency, domain, and cognitive. These assessments are safeguarded against cheating through online proctoring. Each of the features mentioned above is available on this platform, ensuring that customers are provided with the best possible means of assessment at one touch-point.

Conclusion

Seeking to hire the right candidate without having a strategic approach is an exercise in futility. Hiring managers can make better hiring decisions by opting for data-driven evaluation of candidates, which makes the online assessment platform a critical element of organizational progress.

Originally published March 12 2020, Updated August 11 2020

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Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

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