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September 8, 2023

Talent Assessments Unlocked: Your Guide to Bringing in the Best

three people using an oversized key on an oversized lock

Low performance and high turnover is the stuff HR nightmares are made of. Fortunately, talent assessments are here to help you beat the statistics and unlock a whole new level in your talent acquisition strategy.

Data-driven talent assessments like skills, personality, and aptitude tests can reduce bias, predict performance, and accelerate your time-to-hire. And in the age of skills-first hiring, that matters even more than you might think.

Today, 94% of recruiting professionals say understanding candidates’ skills is a must for better talent decisions. Talent assessments are effective because they aren’t concerned with resumes or experience. Instead, they’re all about the skills, values, and characteristics that make candidates who they are.

According to our research at Breezy, over 30% of employers use data-driven assessment methods, including cognitive ability tests and personality tests, in their selection process — making talent assessments the second top tool of choice after structured interviewing.

So how can you make the most of these powerful talent tools? Read on for the full how-to.

What we’ll cover

  • What is a talent assessment?
  • 10 examples of talent assessment questions
  • How to conduct a talent assessment

What is a talent assessment? Your secret weapon against homogenous hiring

A talent assessment is a structured process used by employers to evaluate an individual’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and potential for current and future career opportunities. 

Talent assessments are commonly used as pre-employment tests at the selection stage of the recruitment process. They help find the best candidates for an open position by attempting to predict the candidate who will perform the best in a given role.

However, talent assessments can also be used in talent development and talent management to help employers understand their existing employees on a deeper level. Employers can use personality assessments and skills assessments to improve performance management, determine suitability for important projects, and enhance their decision making for key promotion opportunities.

In short, the goal of a talent assessment is to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. 

Whether you’re making important new hires, taking a more strategic approach to employee attrition, or building a powerful pipeline of future leaders from your existing workforce, talent assessments can be a great way to minimize the risks of making a bad talent decision.


  • Reduce hiring bias
  • Increase candidate satisfaction
  • Accelerate time-to-hire
  • Predict on-the-job performance


  • Assessments must be consistent
  • Not always a great candidate experience
  • Don't always provide insight into company culture
  • Can be lengthy and inaccessible

For employers, the core benefit of talent assessments is to prevent discrimination in the hiring and performance management process and increase your chances of moving the right person forward.

But the benefits of talent assessments aren’t one-sided. When candidates know your selection process is based on objective criteria, they’ll feel more satisfied with your hiring decisions and will be more likely to support your employer brand, even if they don’t succeed in getting the role.

However, not all talent assessment tools are created equal. To deliver these benefits, your assessments must be fair, consistent, and part of a larger talent strategy that puts diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the center.

What types of talent assessments are out there?

In a market set to exceed $35 billion by 2028, there is an overwhelming number of talent assessment tools to choose from.

Here are just a few of the common types of talent assessments you’ll find:

  • Psychometric tests
  • Aptitude tests
  • Cognitive assessments
  • Skills tests
  • Personality tests
  • Work samples
  • Test projects
  • Job simulations
  • Game-based assessments
  • Behavioral interviews
  • Situational judgment tests

While each type of talent assessment has its role to play, the best talent assessment tools should do the following:

  • Predict job success or ability based on a scientifically proven process
  • Present results anonymously to reduce bias
  • Evaluate both hard and soft skills
  • Be easily accessible via mobile devices

The key to an effective talent assessment is to strike the right balance between fair and consistent.

Talent assessments are grounded in scientific method. While any good scientist will tell you that controlling external variables is key to objective results, asking applicants to take your talent assessments in the same environment every time doesn’t always pave the way for a great candidate experience.

And it’s not all that inclusive either. In an age when nearly 70% of job seekers apply for jobs using a mobile device, desktop-only talent assessments could exclude certain groups of candidates — for example, women, blue collar and mid-career workers.

For best results, use a talent assessment tool that is both grounded in science and accessible for a wide range of candidates.

What is a talent assessment framework?

A talent assessment framework is a structured strategy that includes a set of tools and processes used by recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources (HR) professionals to evaluate candidates and employees fairly, consistently, and at scale.

More than half of employers say finding qualified candidates is their biggest obstacle. The more applicants you have, the harder it becomes to pinpoint the right candidates. A large volume of candidates can also make it more challenging to ensure objectivity in your talent assessments. 

A talent assessment framework can help hiring teams consistently select the most qualified candidates, even when faced with a large volume of applicants.

10 examples of talent assessment questions

Your talent assessment questions should never be one-size-fits-all. The questions you ask will vary depending on role, company culture, and a variety of other factors. 

To give you an idea of what some common talent assessment questions might look like, here are 15 behavioral interview questions from the talent assessment experts at TestGorilla:

  1. Tell me about a time you used creativity to overcome a challenge. 
  2. What is your thought process after making a mistake at work? 
  3. How do you manage and prevent stress in a job? 
  4. Have you ever made a decision that your team didn’t agree with? How did you handle it? 
  5. How do you communicate with an angry customer? 
  6. Describe a situation when you worked with someone you didn’t get along with. 
  7. Tell me about a time you had to take charge and lead the team. 
  8. Has there ever been a time you went against the company’s policy? Why?
  9. What is your task-prioritization process?
  10. How do you respond to negative feedback?

Ready to conduct your talent assessment? Here’s how to do it right

Step 1. Identify job requirements and outcomes

The first step toward a fair and consistent talent assessment is to conduct a job analysis to determine which performance outcomes are most important for the specific role. (Pro tip: This is a task ChatGPT can give you a hand with. Just don’t forget to fact check! 😉)

For example, say you’re looking to hire a new Business Development Representative (BDR).

Performance outcomes might be:

  • Meetings held
  • Leads generated
  • Pipeline influenced

Always check to make sure your performance outcomes are the same in your job description’s list of requirements.

Step 2. Select your skills and scoring criteria

Next, translate those outcomes into measurable skills and traits.

If the ability to book meetings, engage with a variety of prospects, and generate revenue opportunities are your core performance outcomes, those might translate into skills like:

  • Empathy
  • Strong communication
  • Problem-solving

You can evaluate candidates for any number of skills, competencies and personality traits depending on the role. For example, technical knowledge will be crucial for software engineering roles, while teamwork skills might be more important for management positions.

When selecting which skills to test for, it’s important to resist the urge to paint all open roles with the same brush. Focus only on the skills relevant to the role in question.

Once you’ve identified your top skills and traits, you can set your scoring criteria — for example, a simple five-point scale with one indicating that an answer is ‘unsatisfactory’ and five indicating ‘exceptional’.

Hiring manager's view of team scorecard

Step 3. Conduct your assessments

We’ll be honest, it’s hard to conduct a fair, scientifically sound talent assessment on your own.

With a large number of talent assessment tools to choose from, you’re probably better off choosing one that can be easily adapted to your open roles. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best talent assessment tools on the market — this list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start.

Top talent assessment tools

Here’s a quick reminder of the top features to look for when selecting your talent assessment tool:

  • Scientifically proven process
  • Evaluates hard and soft skills
  • Presents results anonymously
  • Mobile-friendly

If your talent assessment tool can be easily integrated with your applicant tracking system (ATS), even better. The right talent assessment integration will make it easy for you to send your assessments automatically by setting up a simple stage action.

When a potential candidate completes the assessment, your ATS will automatically move the candidate to a separate stage of your pipeline for review.

Step 4. Combine results with other factors to make a fair and informed decision

The right talent assessment can give you a wealth of valuable insight into your candidates and employees — but it’s not a magic bullet.

To make the best possible talent decisions, you need multiple tools and resources to draw from.

For example, while we know the traditional interview is a terrible tool for predicting job performance, a structured interview can be an excellent additional layer to add to your inclusive recruiting process.

At the selection stage, structured interviewing remains the top tool of choice (67.9%), followed by:

  • Data-driven assessments (30.4%)
  • Candidate experience surveys (23.3%)
  • Interview coaching (22.3%)

At this application stage, blind hiring tools like Incognito Apply and Candidate Match Score can help you narrow down your selection pool and decide which candidates to prioritize for a talent assessment.

When using talent assessments to select candidates, make sure each one is coupled with a well-executed structured interview by asking the same questions in the same order in your interview guide.

From there, you can easily compare candidates based on their assessments to find your top candidates sooner

Accessing candidate compare from a stage in the pipeline

Step 5. Provide feedback to candidates 

The last thing you want is to leave candidates feeling like they “failed” a talent assessment. 

Make sure that any interview feedback given to unsuccessful candidates is both meaningful and constructive.

Let candidates know that there are no “passing” or “failing” scores — hiring assessments are only meant to gauge a candidate’s fit for a particular role. If the candidate would be a great fit for a future role, encourage them to apply again.

Certain types of talent assessments even allow candidates to see partial results, including the strengths they displayed in the results. If that’s an option with the tool you’re using, this is one small bonus that can make the assessment worth their time.

Land your next great hire with Breezy

By prioritizing skills over resumes, you prevent hiring bias from creeping into the selection process, while making it easier to compare your top candidates.

But let’s be honest, manually anonymizing incoming applications and prioritizing which candidates to move forward can take a lot of work.

With Breezy, you can easily prioritize incoming applicants based on skills (not identifying info like how old they are or where they went to school), automatically send talent assessments, review and compare candidates in one central system, and organize your top contenders based on their results.

Best of all, Breezy’s friendly automated emails make it easy to follow up and say ‘thank you’ to each and every candidate for taking the time to complete your assessment.

Ready to unlock the power of easy, automated talent assessments? Try Breezy free for 14 days!