Despite persistent slow hiring by businesses, spending on employment testing rose about 20 percent in the US last year to between 1.5 and $2 billion annually (  One reason for the increase might be that organizations using assessments report on average 18 percent more of their organizational goals achieved and 15 percent more of their new hires achieving their first performance milestone on time (Aberdeen Group). So what’s next for employee assessments?

SHL Previsor’s recently released 2011 Business Outcomes Study report reviewed several recent trends in assessment.

Multimedia-based assessments

At the top of the list was the increasing use of multimedia-based assessments. These can take the form of audio, video, and/or animation. These technologically advanced assessments not only look realistic but do predict the critical business outcomes they are designed to impact. In addition, those who complete these assessments consider them relevant and realistic, resulting in high overall candidate engagement.

More Organizations Integrating Assessments into their Applicant Tracking Systems

As organizations are inundated with increasing numbers of applicants from multiple sources, there is a clear trend to integrate all of that information seamlessly into Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS integrations increased 70% in 2010 over 2009. By integrating assessments into an ATS, HR professionals may use a single interface to manage the full range of hiring data and processes about prospective talent. HR professionals who leverage this approach are driving additional cost savings, a reduced time to hire, and of course the bottom line productivity impact from improving the quality of hire.

Structured Interviewing Gains Ground

Although structured behavioral interviews have been around for decades, the interest in this approach has seen resurgence with the availability of new, robust online tools. Overall, structured interviews add consistency and objectivity to what could otherwise be a somewhat arbitrary hiring mechanism. Many assessment programs include a structured interview guide in each candidate report, where the questions are customized based on how the candidate responds to the assessment questions. According to our 2011 Global Assessments Trends Report, nearly 95% of survey respondents’ companies use or plan to use structured interviews in their hiring processes, up from approximately 85% in the previous two years.

Testing Goes on the Road: Remote and Mobile Assessments

Organizations are embracing the use of remote testing. In a recent survey, 83% of respondents reported that their organizations use remote assessments as part of their recruitment processes. Smart phone/ mobile testing is inevitable as this type of technology surpasses traditional ways individuals access the Internet and could potentially prove to be a competitive advantage for companies who want to engage candidates early in the process.

Assessments Support Employee Talent Development

Assessments are often thought of as a way to identify the best candidates for a position, but another important and growing use for them is to assess the incumbent workforce fordevelopment and succession planning.  Pairing assessment results with other information, such as multi-source (360 multi-rater) performance ratings, can give decision-makers more refined and informative data to evaluate, develop, or promote talent.

Personality and ability scores can often be paired with 360 degree feedback and on the job performance data to provide a rounded picture of a person’s potential and actual performance. In some cases, organizations ask employees to create their development plans after an in-depth assessment and integration of the resulting data. Overall, the information from objective assessment programs can be used successfully to identify potential in employees and inform a myriad of decisions about an organization’s talent.