Education Technology

What is Skill Assessment?

Skills assessments are issued by relevant skills assessing authorities. A skills assessing authority is an organization that checks your skills meet the standards they set to work in a relevant occupation.

When hiring, developing, or promoting employees for new positions in your company, resumes and interviews only tell you so much. A person’s education, experience, and references all provide indicators about what a person knows and what they have done. But, the best way to understand one’s abilities and level of proficiency is to conduct a skills assessment.

What is a Skill Assessment?

A skill assessment is an evaluation of an individual’s ability to perform a specific skill or set of skills. Usually, it’s an evaluation of skills specific to a job or role. Ideally, the assessment captures the level of proficiency for each skill, so you know which participants are new to a skill and which have mastered it.

Skills assessments may be conducted in person and/or online and may take the form of a simulation, test, questionnaire, or observation. The skill level could be assessed with proficiency markers of: “Limited,” “Basic,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” or “Expert.”

You’ll want to conduct standardized, objective reviews, so results of all the assessments can be reliably compared. Many companies use a skills management system to create and deliver custom online skills assessments based on job role(s) across the company. Results are centralized, always current, and readily available.

When to Use Skill Assessment

Some people are strong on education, others are rich in experience. Skills assessment tests give no weight to how employees learned what they know. They measure what employees can do. They are routinely used for a range of hiring and employee development initiatives:

  • Recruiting: a skill assessment for employment can help hiring managers narrow down the list of candidates to interview or to decide between finalist candidates for an open position.
  • Career Development: a jobs skill assessment can be used to evaluate the performance of current employees, to help confirm that they are strengthening essential skills as they build experience.  
  • Learning and Development: as employees progress along a learning path, a skill assessment is a simple, objective checkpoint to ensure that the training is effective.
  • Rapid Adoption of New Skills: The coronavirus pandemic reminds us that skills are constantly evolving. From effectively participating in video meetings to adopting new social distancing protocols or manufacturing procedures, a skill assessment can quickly test whether employees have mastered new, essential skills before they are cleared for the work.
  • Reskilling and Upskilling: many employers are encouraging current employees to learn adjacent or entirely new skill sets to help address a talent gap.

5 Advantages of Skill Assessment

Because skill assessments are designed to objectively assess the skills of individuals, there are many benefits to using them. Here are just a few:

1. Reduce Bias

Especially in the hiring process, intrinsic biases can affect our hiring decisions. The more weight given to skill assessments, the less is given to things like age, gender, previous employer, education, address, and other factors that can inadvertently sway a hiring manager.

2. Consistency

Without an assessment, hiring managers are left with human reports of proficiency – with no objective agreement on the “scale.” One job candidate may report that her skills are mostly “3” on a 3-point scale and another mostly “2” – even if their skill levels are exactly the same. A skill assessment does a much better job assigning objective meaning to that 1-2-3 scale.

3. Personalized Development Plans

Just because someone isn’t fully skilled doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the job or promotion. A skill assessment is extremely helpful in pinpointing exactly the areas where someone needs to develop skills, making it easier to develop a relevant, personalized learning and development plan.

4. Measure Progress

Whether monitoring the development of individuals or teams, regular skill assessments can confirm progress – or identify areas where the training and support isn’t enough.  

5. Employee Engagement

Employees want to keep learning. When you allow your employees to grow with you skill assessments, it is a win-win situation. Gaining new skills makes them stronger employees.” Skills assessments are precisely all about employee growth; supporting and recognizing their progress keeps employees engaged.

For skills old and new, a skills assessment can help keep your employees and teams current, productive, and engaged.