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The use of computers in assessing job applicants and employees has been common practice for quite a while now. However, there is still room for innovation, such as an interactive assessment tool that also says something about the candidate’s interpersonal skills and decision making.

The use of ICT in selection and assessment processes offers a lot of advantages to HR managers: consistency (everyone gets the same test); standardization across all countries and divisions; cost reductions as neither paper-based answer booklets nor test guidance is necessary; and time savings arising from the streamlining of the observation and rating processes. Among the drawbacks, however, are the lower interactivity and the reduced response fidelity that result from using tests in which participants just have to read information on a pc before answering multiple choice questions. This does not give the employer any insight into how participants gather information or how they make decisions in real life.

In this context, Filip Lievens, a renowned professor from the Department of Personnel Management, Work and Organizational Psychology at Ghent University, refers to an innovative breakthrough achieved by the Belgian R&D team from Hudson. Five years of intensive research has led to the development of the EASE tool (Electronic Assessment Simulation Exercise), a simulation exercise that puts an end to the drawbacks associated with conventional computerized simulations while at the same time allowing managers to search for and analyze information, take decisions and draw up strategic plans.

“Most PC tests provide all necessary information; the only decisions participants are asked to make involve picking an answer from a number of given possibilities. In EASE, all participants start with one e-mail. They can then obtain further information by organizing meetings, requesting archive documents or sending e-mails to colleagues. The participants need to ask the right people the right questions in the right way. The computer then generates the requested information, and it also functions as an assessor that evaluates and records all actions objectively.”

Predictive Value
One day in the exercise lasts 16 minutes in reality, and the candidate gets 5.5 fictitious days to work with. If you take into account that organizing a meeting with the most important colleagues in the organization can take a full day, you begin to understand why the participants need to make targeted choices. Once the information has been collected, they need to make decisions and develop strategies for both the short and the longer terms.

“The exercise reflects core management skills, and therefore we can get a picture of the behaviors that are related to these skills. The scoring is automatically carried out by a built-in expert system”, explains Lievens. “In addition, the exercise can predict important criteria; the scores from EASE correspond nicely to the results of a full assessment. It does appear, for instance, that the number of meetings a participant manages to organize in this exercise corresponds to their score in a role play. The fact that an individual exercise can give insight into someone’s interpersonal skills is pretty unique.”

The current innovations are necessary when dealing with a generation that was raised with a computer. Other applications are also using more and more simulations, which sometimes take the form of a video game. The main questions for all applications remain the same: how can job relevant characteristics be measured and how can as much job relevant information as possible be obtained.

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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.