If you’ve decided you’d like to use candidate assessments to reduce employee turnover and improve how you hire, the next question is, what type of assessment do you need?

Hopefully, our guide to pre-employment assessments gave you the full lowdown on how to choose the right assessment provider, but the first decision you’ll need to make is whether to build or buy your candidate assessments.

Building assessments doesn’t mean starting from scratch though. A new wave of customised pre-employment assessment providers have made it affordable for companies to benefit from a bespoke approach, but buying pre-written assessments can be a more appropriate option for lower volume hiring.

Here’s the rundown on the pros and cons of each approach:

Building a customised candidate assessment

No two jobs are exactly the same. In fact, the same job in different companies can feel completely alien. Customised candidate assessments enable you to assess how the skills, behaviours and competencies you look for materialise within your unique work context.

They also allow you to deliver a branded, customised candidate experience that communicates the reality of life in a specific role within your organisation. And because they’re tailored to your exact requirements, they are typically highly predictive of job performance and can, therefore, be used to fairly and objectively automate selection at the start of the hiring process.

In summary you’ll want to build if you: 

  • Have a high volume hiring requirement (with ThriveMap a personalised assessment works out to be more cost-effective if you make over 100+ hires per year into a specific job or job family)
  • Want to save time by automating selection decisions
  • Want to deliver a unique candidate experience
  • Want to customise what your managers see in terms of insights and reports
  • Want to communicate your employer brand to candidates and stand out amongst the competition
  • Want an assessment that considers your organisational context and culture

Buying a pre-written assessment

Off-the-shelf candidate assessments enable you to measure generic capabilities and skills via standardised tests. In general, they’re not as predictive as customised tests as they don’t consider any of the nuances of the roles you’re hiring into.

It’s also rare that the attributes they claim to measure will match perfectly to your ideal candidate profiles, instead, you’ll have to rely on the test providers definitions and frameworks. On the plus side though they come pre-validated are quick to administer and should give you the security that candidates have the basic abilities to perform in the role.

Many off-the-shelf tests claim to identify top performer characteristics by getting existing employees to take them and see if there are any patterns in the data. You may want to proceed with caution with this approach as although it makes sense to want to model top performers, the results you discover may not be aligned with your hiring criteria, may not be the reason people are performing well and may not be job-relevant characteristics.

In summary you’ll want to buy if you:

  • Have a low volume hiring requirement – typically less than 100 hires per year
  • Want to use the same test across multiple different roles e.g. test a general cognitive ability
  • Want something that supports the decision-making process at a later stage in the hiring process
  • Want to launch something straight away
  • Don’t think your culture or work environment has a significant impact on performance in role

So there you have it. Build or buy? It’s up to you, and if you have any questions about which assessment you might need, we’d love to hear from you.