How to deliver a more realistic and relevant candidate experience
As more professional qualification (PQ) providers continue to shift from pen and paper to digital assessment experiences, many are starting to rethink what those experiences should look like.
With traditional assessment formats, the candidate experience rarely reflects the scenarios they’ll find themselves in during their roles – and there’s often limited scope to adapt the formats to match those scenarios. For example, accountants rarely find themselves in situations where they can’t use their accounting software, yet many PQ providers around the world still use paper-based assessments.
But now, as on-screen assessments are evolving, PQ providers are finding new opportunities to deliver more realistic experiences that accurately assess the skills candidates will need.
Here’s why more realistic candidate experiences are so valuable for modern professional qualifications, and how you can start building them.
Why you should be thinking about realistic candidate experiences
One of the key reasons many PQ providers are rethinking their candidates’ experiences is to ensure that candidates are well-equipped for the real world and that employers can trust their qualifications.
For example, some engineering assessment centres have started introducing real business scenarios into their assessments, such as surveying a possible expansion into a new drilling location.
As competition rises from new digital-first entrants in the assessment market, a lot of PQ organisations are also aiming to improve their candidates’ experience, so candidates select them over other providers. Many are considering how they can create assessment experiences more relevant to candidates’ everyday lives, personal preferences, and accessibility needs.
Today’s candidates often look for faster, tailored, and more convenient assessment experiences. And in many cases, they want a shorter turnaround on results that enables a quicker entrance into the job market, which is difficult to deliver using traditional testing formats. They also want to use the devices they’re familiar with, and often don’t want to learn how to use new software or hardware.
Meeting all these new candidate needs and expectations can seem like a major challenge, especially if your starting point is paper-based testing. However, new technologies make it easier than ever to start building more realistic and relevant candidate experiences.
Three ways to build a realistic candidate experience
As a professional qualification provider, there are several actions you can take today to start evolving your assessment experiences.
If you haven’t already, the first step will be to consider whether it’s appropriate to switch from paper exams to digital, on-screen assessment experiences – and ensure you have the technology on-hand to deliver them. While digital isn’t always the answer, it can help you in your quest to start shaping your candidate experiences into more accurate assessments of professional skills.
Here are three things we recommend you should keep in mind as you’re going through the process:
1. Think about the skills you're assessing beyond your assessment format
One of the biggest barriers we see PQ providers face when switching from paper-based to digital-based assessments is translating specific exercises to digital formats. For example, many paper-based exercises that involve drawing and illustration can often be challenging to implement in on-screen assessments.
Rather than shifting these exercises to your digital format, take a step back to identify what you’re trying to get the candidate to demonstrate. Consider if another type of exercise could assess the skill more accurately – and identify whether you’re judging the result or the overall process.
A simple example of this evolution is the switch from paper-based to screen-based driving theory tests, which allow the evaluation of candidates’ hazard perception skills using video-based questions. More modern examples include medical and nursing boards using virtual reality (VR) to test candidates’ technical and soft skills in a well-rounded, realistic assessment experience that can be scaled easily.
2. Identify opportunities to personalise the candidate experience
Creating highly personalised, relevant candidate experiences can be difficult and expensive to achieve at scale – especially if you’re looking to keep the assessment lifecycle short. However, you can find opportunities to introduce smaller, valuable personalised elements into your assessments.
This could be as simple as allowing candidates to choose the tools they use in the assessment, so you can judge them based on their skill, rather than how well they can use the equipment you provide. Maybe you could consider a shift to open-book exams, which might seem like a big change for you, but could result in a better candidate experience and more authentic assessment.
You could look at designing adaptive assessments where questions are selected dynamically based on candidates’ previous responses, or more frequent assessments that assess highly specific skills. These can often offer a more well-rounded, accurate view of an individual than traditional assessment formats.
Crucially, you’ll need to engage with your stakeholders – including the candidates taking the tests as well as your industry partners and employers – to identify which changes will add the most value to your candidates’ experiences and the credibility of your qualification in your marketplace.
3. Find the right partner
The shift to realistic assessment experiences can be challenging. You need a good understanding of the profession and skills you’re testing for and the technology you’re using to deliver your assessments.
With the right partner by your side who understands the technical demands of delivering realistic assessment experiences, you can ensure you’re continuously meeting your candidates’ needs.
Ideally, your partner should be able to help you adapt your assessments as demands change and manage your shift to modern, digital candidate experiences.
Start building modern candidate experiences today
Speak to one of our experts to find out how you can start creating realistic and relevant candidate experiences and strengthen your position in the market as a modern professional qualification provider.