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Enhancing the remote participant’s experience


Enhancing the remote participant’s experience

When we think about an Assessment Centre (AC), most of us envision a traditional AC, where assessors and participants meet one another in person in a dedicated testing space. However, virtual or remote ACs are quickly gaining popularity. This should come as no surprise, given the many advantages of conducting an AC remotely: it’s more efficient, easier to organise, and greener, and the absence of geographical constraints yields a larger and more diverse participant pool. Using remote technologies can even provide participants with experiences that closely match the technological environment of today’s world.


Some people may doubt whether a remote AC is really as valid a method of evaluating participants as a traditional, in-person AC. But they can rest assured: it is – if conducted correctly. To name a few essential requirements, a remote AC (just like in an in-person one) needs to combine various assessment techniques (psychometric tests, interactive simulation exercises, a structured interview, etc.) to create enough opportunities for observing job-relevant behaviour that can be systematically evaluated by multiple, adequately trained assessors.


On top of that, one very important aspect requires extra attention in a remote AC: the remote participant's experience. Research has shown that some participants regard video-mediated interactions, in particular, as being less personal and requiring more energy than face-to-face interactions.

Below, we explain some important considerations for ensuring an optimal experience for the remote participant, and we provide a glimpse behind the scenes at Hudson.

  1. Minimise distractions
     

    Whereas traditional ACs take place in dedicated testing spaces free from distractions, remote ACs do not. There is always the possibility that family members or pets will suddenly require attention or that the participant receives an unexpected phone call or email, not to mention the constant visibility of the participant's own image during video conversations. Such distractions can seriously interfere with people’s ability to concentrate and to perform as they normally would, which could lead to a less than positive experience for the participant. 

    At Hudson, we therefore ensure that participants can create a distraction-free assessment space by informing them of the requirements beforehand so that they can schedule sessions only during times that are free of potential disruptions.

  2. Maximise conversation fluency
     

    There’s a weird echo, sound and image are out of sync, or you get stuck with an unflattering ‘freeze-frame’ of the other person. These are just a few examples of the sorts of technical issues that can impact the fluency of the conversation and drain a participant's energy. The impact is greater on less digitally savvy candidates, who – if not well-guided – might be unable to use the technology comfortably, resulting in even more interruptions and increased nervousness.

    In the remote ACs conducted by Hudson, we try to eliminate technical problems wherever possible in advance, by having participants test their equipment and internet connections beforehand. Furthermore, sufficient time is reserved for helping orient participants immediately before the AC starts, so that even those with less affinity for technology will feel sufficiently familiar with and confident of using the software by the time the actual AC commences; moreover, candidates also have a dedicated consultant on standby during the AC to help them with any issues that may occur.

  3. Consciously build rapport
     

    When we meet one another physically, we unconsciously take in non-verbal information from different senses, which helps us ‘connect’ with the other person. We smell the scent of people and places, we observe (and often mirror) gestures, body posture and micro‑expressions, make direct eye-contact and evaluate the touch of a handshake. Most of this information is lost when people connect via screens, which could hinder the development of a rapport between participant and assessor.

    Adding to this is the fact that there are fewer opportunities for informal chit-chat in a remote AC. Whereas an assessor would normally talk informally with the participant while walking them to the testing room or offering them a drink, they can now just click a button and start the assessment immediately. However, acting in this way can make the assessor seem aloof, which might make it more difficult for both parties to relax into the conversation naturally.​ 

    Hudson therefore believes that in a remote AC, it is essential to devote sufficient attention to the rapport-building stage, by scheduling a brief welcome moment to allow the participant and assessor to make their mutual first impressions on each other in a less formal context, before the actual AC starts. This is also the ideal moment to make participants feel at ease and to answer any questions they may have

To summarise, a very accurate picture of a participant can be gained through a remote AC if enough attention is paid to the essential AC quality factors, including the remote participant's experience. Although many people tend to prefer face-to-face contact if given the choice, most participants also understand that the many advantages of taking an AC remotely outweigh any discomfort they may experience. And, in the end, thanks to all the measures that Hudson is taking to make remote ACs as comfortable as possible for participants, most of them look back positively on their remote assessment experience.





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Hudson’s InTALENTgence blog is a qualitative source of HR-knowledge. Read and share interesting stories with insights on current HR issues and trends. Blog posts are written in Dutch, French or English.
 
 

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Hudson has more than 35 years of experience and is the undisputed market leader in the HR consultancy sector. Every day, the Hudson HR experts use all their specialist knowledge regarding the recruitment, interim management, development, coaching or compensation of employees to support our customers so they can achieve their ambitions.

HUDSON

Hudson has more than 35 years of experience and is the undisputed market leader in the HR consultancy sector. Every day, the Hudson HR experts use all their specialist knowledge regarding the recruitment, interim management, development, coaching or compensation of employees to support our customers so they can achieve their ambitions.