Skip to content

When to Use Skills Assessment Tests in the Hiring Process

Skills assessment tests are common in the hiring process. But when exactly in the hiring process are these tests most effective? If you’re administering them too early, your team will waste time sifting through too many results. But if you leave them too late, you may find that your pool of final candidates doesn’t have the skills you need, and you’ll have to start the process all over again. 

To keep your hiring process moving quickly and efficiently, here’s when you should use skills assessment tests. 

When to Administer Skills Assessment Tests 

There are two times in the hiring process when you should conduct a skills assessment test. 

Why? Because there are two kinds of skills you should be assessing job candidates for – and two different times to use them. 

  • Perform a soft skills assessment first, when you have a wide range of diverse and potentially qualified candidates. 
  • And once you have narrowed the pool with your soft skills assessment to those with the soft skills your dream team needs, check for technical expertise and hard skills.  

Testing for Soft Skills 

Technical expertise will only get an employee so far in their career. Steller employees and inspiring leaders also need soft skills such as communication, empathy, dependability, and critical thinking to succeed. 

Soft skills are vital for success in the workplace. In fact, 89 percent of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it typically comes down to a lack of soft skills. 

But many employers don’t screen for these skills because they’re considered harder to test for than hard skills. That’s a mistake because soft skills are much more challenging to train in employees. You can teach an employee to use a new kind of software quickly, but training them to turn in work on time and collaborate with colleagues proves more difficult. 

Soft skills are also valuable because they’re highly transferable. Strong communication skills and empathy are traits that serve employees well in a variety of roles, while hard skills can go out of date quickly in today’s fast-moving workplaces.  

Using Cangrade’s Pre-Hire Assessments as the first step in the hiring funnel provides you with a job fit score for each candidate that predicts their success and likelihood to stay in the role based on soft skills. And it also eliminates the unconscious biases that can occur so often in the interview process.

Testing for Hard Skills 

Requiring a hard skills assessment test too early in the hiring process can eliminate candidates who would otherwise be well-suited for the role because of their soft skills, such as many of the skills needed in remote work

For example, if you’re hiring an internal communications specialist, many candidates might not have experience in the specific software you use to build and send emails. Testing them on those skills too early will eliminate candidates who are excellent writers and strong collaborators but need some training on the software – needlessly narrowing your candidate pool. 

Of course, there are some roles where hard skills are absolutely necessary, or at least highly desirable. Testing for those technical skills should come after you have a pool of candidates who meet your soft skills criteria. Then you can look at both sides of the equation for the top candidates, interview them, and choose the one with the best balance of skills and overall job fit. 


Need to determine exactly which soft skills are needed for candidates to succeed in your open roles? Try Cangrade’s free Job Description Decoder today.