Written Assessments

During job analysis, SMEs and HR may decide to use a written assessment.

Written assessments can be used before or after resume review. If your SMEs opt for a written assessment, you will need to prepare questions and training. We suggest an assessment that takes an applicant no more than 90 minutes to complete, in order to avoid over-burdening applicants with full-time jobs or obligations at home. This also enables easier assessment construction, testing and review.


Items to check before sending a written assessment

Communication to applicants

  • Applicants may be concerned you are seeking “free work” - have you clearly explained that the asseessment is solely for evaluation?
  • Have you expressed the due date of the assessment consistently, with time zone marked?
  • Have you marked the instructions that applicants must read to highlight them from the broader set of information for applicants?
  • Have you clarified any formatting requirements for submission and what will happen if people submit via another format?
    • Some applicant mistakes may not justify failing them out of the process.
    • In past pilots, applicants routinely submitted more than one written attachment, despite instructions to the contrary.
  • Have you added language about how you will treat extenuating circumstances (e.g. a COVID infection)?
  • Have you decided if you will provide applicants with SME feedback about their written assessment submissions? (for example, the competancy where they failed) This is helpful to applicants but may frustrate applicants who disagree.
  • Do you have a reasonable accomodations statement to assist applicants with a disability?

Assessment readiness

  • Have you had one SME or trusted external party who has not worked on developing the written assessment take it in order to gauge difficulty level and time to complete?
    • A best practice is for someone who helped create the assessment to observe the other person/people testing the assessment, to gather real-time feedback.
    • You will also use results of the attempt/test in the training for SMEs as a calibration exercise.
  • Before training, have you conducted a full dress rehearsal of an evaluation to check the evaluation workflow from start to finish? (checking all of the template content?)
  • Have you built out instructions for how to transmute the assessment scores, particularly if you have multiple reviewers? (the SME-QA team has a template you can reference)
  • Have you done a dress rehearsal for how written assessments will be distributed and found by SMEs?
    • Do SMEs know what to do if they can’t find a submitted assessment?
  • Is it possible for applicants to do overwork on the assessment (going into extreme detail, pulling in other information from their own research, providing many graphs/images), and do you have a plan if they overwork?
  • If the assessment requires use of a download or external site (like downloading a dataset), do you have a backup plan if that external site goes down during the assessment period?
  • If your assessment involves sending out a data file for review, have you checked that everyone is using a common source of truth for the file?

Items to check when training SMEs to review written assessments

  • Have you decided if SMEs need to review every competancy in their review when a written assessment is failing for a required competancy? We suggest not requiring additional assessment work.

Use in fit interviews

  • We suggest making written assessments available to hiring managers when they are evaluating a certificate, so they can see a sample of the applicant’s work. You can also provide the comments from the SME in reviewing the assessment.

Assessment Options

See a full list at this reference link.