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I was listening to a presentation this week by Lisa Cox, Consultant at the Assessment & Development Consultancy Cubiks, in which she focused on the subject of ‘Inclusive assessment in practice’, a really interesting theme in a today’s talent acquisition world. Lisa gave a great run through of the practical steps companies should apply when looking to develop or implement inclusive selection practices, but it also struck me one of the key point raised could equally be applied to candidate assessment full stop –  namely being completely clear on what you are looking to assess for, and most importantly WHY!

As a brief overview Lisa talked through a set of simple steps and considerations that companies should follow when approaching the subject of making their assessment processes more inclusive. I am sure Lisa and her team would far better summarise this directly if you wanted to seek her out by the way! Broadly this is how I interpreted her advice:

  • Why are you doing this in the first place? It’s key that you look properly at the reason behind the drive for inclusive candidate attraction/assessment, and prioritise what you are aiming to focus on, e.g. diversity in gender, age, ethnicity, viewpoint etc.
  • Select champions to help promote this agenda, and ensure they actually reflect the virtues of an inclusive and diverse agenda themselves (if you can).
  • Establish the assessment criteria, define what ‘great’ looks like, ensure it’s fair and measurable, and finally validate and review the output. Realistically this requires the participation of a good range of representative individuals.
  • Communication: look at the language and style you’re using in your communication/material, and ensure it reflects you company brand. Review the channels you’re using to communicate externally, and ensure they’re balanced to reach the right audiences (eg LinkedIn stronger accesses corporate audiences, twitter/facebook is stronger in others).
  • Incorporate a range of measures where possible, balancing behavioural and ability assessments.
  • Offer opportunities for practise, especially important to level the playing field to people who may have not come across assessment exercises before, or for a long time, so could impact age or socio-economic groups adversely.
  • Ensure accessibility of assessments – not everyone may have access to a PC.
  • Pilot the exercises with people from diverse backgrounds and consider adjusting content which is found to be more challenging to minority groups.
  • Train the assessors and where possible ensure a diversity of your assessors to ensure a broader perspective.
  • Collect diversity and performance data at each stage of the process to pin point areas where fall out maybe occurring.

Whilst Lisa’s presentation was focused on the agenda of inclusion, I think much of this could be taken as strong maxim’s for the selection and assessment process in hiring in general. Too often the criteria against which a business is measuring its potential hires is out of date (it’s what was done before) so goes unchallenged, resulting in a protracted hiring process or worse a bad/no hire. Having wider input into the selection process also helps reduce the potential impact of unconscious bias clouding an assessment process. Validating you assessment criteria……how regularly do organisations get an internal benchmark for their strong performers?

So thanks to The Forum for In-house Recruitment Manager’s #FIRMday for running another interesting event, and to all the speakers on the day for some really interesting presentations.