Virtual not distant

As the response to the Covid-19 coronavirus rapidly evolves across the world with significant social distancing or lockdown measures in place to control the spread, organisations are having to rapidly adapt to a virtual way of working.

Many organisations need to maintain hiring for key roles to support business continuity.  However, the requirement to minimise the size of gatherings and with so many working from home, means face to face assessment is particularly challenging and there is a significant challenge to minimise disruption. In this article I wanted to share some perspectives and practical solutions for how to tackle assessment in a virtual environment.

When face to face is no longer an option

The early stages of volume assessment are less problematic as they are often already virtual.  Online assessment is widely used and more focused techniques such as customised, blended assessments provide organisations with a focused way to assess candidates accurately, fairly and providing a great candidate experience.  Sova also integrates video interview into this process for organisations like Lloyds or Santander to enable candidates to be further filtered down to those you would like to bring through to your final assessment stage.

Following the sifting stage, typically candidates would then be brought in for a face to face assessment.  In volume hiring, this will regularly take the form of an assessment centre and this is where the challenge becomes very real for recruiters.  Likewise, the closely related development centre approach is widely used for key internal talent and again this is now problematic to conduct face to face.

When it comes to reshaping the face to face assessment centre, there are a range of possibilities.  One option is to essentially give up on assessing robustly and using video conferencing tools is another.

However, these approaches suffer from significant disadvantages.  Having invested in the creation of an accurate assessment process, designed to measure your key competencies and select the best talent it makes no sense to undermine this investment by lowering the decision-making bar when it comes to making final hiring decisions. Additionally, trying to keep the benefits of a well-designed assessment centre (with multiple candidates and assessors), but manage it virtually is fraught with logistical challenges.

So how do you manage multiple activities for each candidate and assessor when you don’t have everyone in the same building?

No need to compromise

Thankfully, there is a practical solution already available which we is already being used by organisations including Deloitte, Equinor, Santander, National Australia Bank, British Airways, PoliceNow and many others.  Our Digital Assessment Centre technology transforms the assessment centre experience for candidates and assessors. The platform allows you to manage complex schedules, candidate instructions and exercises and for assessors, scores and notes can be input into the system directly for fast, accurate and effective analysis. Furthermore, we have integrated Zoom video conferencing, so assessment centres can be run completely virtually with multiple candidates and assessors.  Essentially you can ‘lift and shift’ your final assessment stage into the Digital Assessment Centre technology, without sacrificing rigour or creating major logistical challenges for yourself.

How does it work?

Online exercises: Each of your exercises, be it an interview, case study, role play or group exercise, is configured within the digital assessment centre software.  This enables assessors to manage and score each activity, and candidates can access their materials and respond in exercises where relevant.

Scheduling: The pain of managing the assessment centre timetable is then removed via scheduling tools which can automatically populate the schedule with candidates matched to assessors, removing the need for an individual to create each timetable. In the virtual environment, the system enables coordinated allocation of Zoom video conferencing rooms to each activity, removing the need for any logistical coordination on the day – this is all fully built into the schedule.

Virtual assessment: Each assessor is provided with their own schedule of tasks for the assessment process on a tablet or desktop, which they work through chronologically. Within each exercise they access the correct Zoom room to connect with the candidate, be that an individual or group exercise.  As each exercise is completed, assessors submit their results which are captured centrally in the Digital Assessment Centre results matrix.  Equally for candidates, the experience is similar straightforward to ensure everyone is in the right virtual place, at the right time.

Online results matrix and wash-up: No collation of results is needed at the end of the assessment centre as these have all been collected in real time as the centre progresses.  Assessors can regroup for a review and wash-up session as soon as the centre is complete, with a full results dashboard fully populated.

Reporting: In addition to the summary dashboard, automated candidate and assessor reports and be produced immediately upon completion, ready to share with stakeholders as required.

In summary, the Digital Assessment Centre allows all aspects of scheduling, virtual assessment, and online results capture and reporting in one cohesive solution.  Analysis shows significant time savings on administration of up to 30% as well as significantly more efficient use of assessors through the automated scheduling tools compared to manual timetabling.  Beyond these labour savings, the approach removes the pain of coordinating multiple candidates when conducting a traditional paper-based process.

Put simply, the technology is there to rapidly digitise your assessment centre process so you can operate 100% virtually.  You can maintain the rigour of selection decisions and make the change easily, whilst quickly adapting to virtual assessment in your organisation.

Listen to our on-demand webinar where we discussed how you can look to virtualize your recruitment processes and minimise disruption. Click here to listen.