Adaptive Assessment: What Is It and How Will It Benefit You in 2022?

by Sarah Reyes

Adaptive assessment is revolutionary in that it tests a candidate’s abilities and skills fully personalized to fit their knowledge and capabilities. Whether a company or business is testing verbal, numerical, or technical skills needed for a specific job, adaptive assessment can do that. 

For the HR and recruiting team, the adaptive assessment will also pose a lot of benefits, from making the funneling of the recruiting process easier to being flexible enough to be used across all realms of testing, even for current employees. 

What Is An Adaptive Assessment? 

Adaptive assessments are also called computer adaptive testing or simply CAT. This type of assessment is notable for its ability to adapt to a particular test taker and their ability level. Adaptive assessments are utilized beyond industries, from standardized testing in education to pre-employment exams to funnel the recruitment process, and what have you.

Adaptive assessment is also a recent occurrence. It is only possible now that computers are there to deliver assessments efficiently so that they can adapt to the test taker in real-time as they are taking the examination. The traditional pen and paper exam would have made adaptive assessment virtually impossible and costly.  

The customization of the exam as the test taker is taking it will make it so that if the test taker is answering most of the questions correctly, the more challenging the subsequent questions will be compared to when a test taker is having a difficult time. They will receive less complex questions on the following numbers. 

There are many uses for adaptive assessment as a human resources solution, from recruitment to training. 

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When to Use an Adaptive Assessment?

Recruitment Process

For larger companies and businesses hiring almost 24/7, one way to streamline high-stakes testing and assessment is to adapt computer adaptive testing into the fold of their process. 

Evaluation of Candidates

Aside from using this technology just on the recruiting side of HR, adaptive assessment can also help evaluate a company or business’ current workforce in aspects like assessing the growth of their employee, so the company will know where they need to invest in that aspect. 

Onboarding New Employees

Adaptive assessment can also be used in onboarding new employees or hires to gauge the impact or effectiveness of HR’s onboarding methods and program. 

Training New and Existing Employees

The artificial intelligence present in adaptive assessment is so innovative that it can not just be used solely in the recruitment process but in training new and assessing current employees as well. 

A question-based approach to assessment will provide personalized training and ensure that the employees are still up to date with the company or the business and their industry’s trends and needs.

How do Adaptive Assessment work in Pre-Employment Tests? 

Now that we know where adaptive assessments can be utilized in different HR functions, the question will remain on how adaptive assessment works.

If a human resource department utilizes adaptive assessment in their pre-employment testing, the job applicants will never know that they are taking it. The adaptive part works in the background, and it does so that it is not visible to the test taker. The background algorithms on the software assess each candidate’s ability by taking the data from how the candidate is doing in the exam. 

As said above, the easier the exam will be for the taker, the more challenging the next questions will be, and the more strenuous a test taker is finding the exam, the easier subsequent questions would be. So does this mean that there are job applicants who will be taking an easier exam? Yes and no. 

Adaptive assessments work so that it caters to every job applicant’s abilities which will mean that not every question will be the same in terms of the difficulty level. Although, despite this, the algorithm will still score each candidate based on the number of how many of those difficult questions they got to answer correctly. 

This would make it possible for the human resource team to ignore the raw scores and rely more on the percentiles. 

To illustrate, let’s say that both applicants X and Y have the same raw score of 30 questions they both answered correctly. However, candidate Y answered correctly to more complex questions than applicant X did. If the test relied on the raw score of 30, then the test is not fair. 

Looking at the percentiles will allow human resource teams to easily compare across the boards among how well all of their applicants did on the adaptive pre-assessment exam. So raw scores, in this case, are deemed irrelevant. 

adaptive assessment

Benefits of Adaptive Assessment for Recruiting Candidates

Based only on the uses and how adaptive assessments work, it is pretty apparent that it can be very advantageous to a variety of functions that HRs need solutions to, especially concerning test-taking, but what are they specifically? Here are some of the benefits posed by adaptive assessment: 

Adaptive Assessment Is Highly Accurate 

Suppose a company or a business’ human resource or recruiting team is looking for a testing strategy that would accurately detect and identify a job applicant’s actual capacity accurately. In that case, an adaptive assessment is what will give that result. 

Since adaptive assessments work in a way that starts the examination with an average difficulty right away, it gradually gets more challenging when the examinee does a great job answering them. On the other hand, it gets easier if the candidate has difficulty answering the questions.

With this, each of the succeeding questions will funnel a narrower and narrower range of the candidate’s ability to the point that the exact level of a job applicant’s ability is measured. Adaptive assessment will give the employer the immediate result of knowing who is qualified for the job and who is not. 

Aside from being helpful in the recruitment process, adaptive assessment can also be used to identify skill gaps and the growth of each of their employees. 

Adaptive Assessment Can Generate a Positive Candidate Experience

Aside from improving the recruitment process to have the ability to hire top-notch candidates who will add to the company or business, human resources across the board are also concerned with what they can change and adapt to the recruiting process to have a positive candidate experience. 

There are many destructive impacts for a company or business if the candidate’s experience in the hiring process is unfavorable, from loss of revenue to the company or industry not appealing to top talents through word of mouth.  

One way to possibly improve candidate experience is by using adaptive assessment for a more positive examinee experience. Adaptive assessments present a challenge for bored high-performing candidates. Still, they will also not isolate the other applicants who are having a challenging time in the early phases of the examination. 

Once the testing is streamlined, pre-employment assessments like adaptive assessments for all candidates will encourage them to do better versus any conventional pen and paper test. 

Offers Shorter Test and Immediate Results 

Studies have pointed out that adaptive assessments or computer adaptive testing reduce an examinee’s time by up to 50% less and even more. One might think that taking less time to do the exam and taking a shorter one will be unable to achieve a high level of accuracy and precision in gauging a candidate’s ability, but that is not the case.  

Not only will adaptive assessment give less time for a job applicant to take the test, but adaptive assessment will also present the results to the recruiters in no time at all versus traditional modes like pen and paper examinations. 

With less time being taken out of a candidate’s schedule, the time benefit of adaptive assessment will then, in turn, add to the improvement of candidate experience in the hiring process. 

Adaptive Assessment is Innovative 

We have repeatedly made a comparison about the difference between adaptive assessment to pen and paper tests. Still, it is essential to note that adaptive assessment is not just simply your standard pen and paper test digitized. Adaptive assessment and innovative and cutting edge. 

Adaptive assessment works in a way that artificial intelligence and test-takers are in a back and forth dance. For instance, once a candidate gets a wrong mark on an item, artificial intelligence will process that input and information and ask an easier question. 

This dance between the AI and the job applicant is repeated until the AI has enough data to assess a job candidate’s ability precisely and accurately. A traditional pen and paper test will not have that flexibility. 

Adaptive Assessments is Personalized 

The routine pre-employment exam of pen and paper is fixed and tailored to everyone without accounting for the different range of abilities that each candidate will potentially offer. This is not the case with adaptive assessment since this testing strategy is personalized and tailored in real-time for the test-taker. 

Each job candidate is there for a reason. The human resource team can accommodate everyone not just for a positive experience but to recognize that each candidate has a scope of capabilities that would not work in a one-size-fits-all approach of standardized testing. 

Aside from the assessment being highly personalized, security in test-taking is also guaranteed since no two people are likely to have the same questions generated by artificial intelligence twice and at the same time. 

adaptive assessment

Adaptive Assessment Allows Multimedia Content

Another upside to an adaptive assessment being highly personalized is also its ability to allow for multimedia content which is impossible for traditional testing. In this sense, recruiting teams are able to utilize audio, video, and also other visual content to aid in examinations. 

This will allow them to really test each candidate’s abilities, especially if the job they are applying for is highly technical and very specified. For instance, this is a great tool to assess creativity if a company or business is hiring a layout artist or a video editor. 

This will make the pre-employment testing relevant to the job being applied to by tailoring the exams to be relevant to the subject matter and expertise of the people applying. 

Drawbacks for Recruiting Candidates

Although adaptive assessments have impressive benefits for the recruitment team, it also poses a few concerns that would need to be discussed. These are minor drawbacks, and in the end, the benefits will always outweigh the risks. Here are some of them: 

Can Be Costly 

This assessment is highly sophisticated, and because of this, many prerequisites are needed to develop adaptive assessment or computer adaptive testing. Requisites will include a large sample size to be required of at least a hundred examinees. 

Other than that, each test item supplied should be scorable in real-time since every question answered correctly or incorrectly will require a new item right after it and then another simultaneously. For the recruitment team to develop and confirm the accuracy of a CAT, a company or business would need to hire a psychometrician with experience in the technology to add to the team. 

Lastly, a company or business would need to adopt a new software interface that would be eligible for the use of adaptive assessment or computer adaptive testing technology. All these might add up the cost and be out of budget, especially for startups and smaller owned companies and businesses. 

Adaptive Assessment Answers are Final 

One significant advantage of traditional paper and pencil tests is that candidates can go back to the items they find confusing and complicated, and they can usually change their answers without second thoughts. This is not possible in adaptive assessment because candidates cannot go back and change their answers. Once an answer is chosen, that’s it. 

Other than that, reviewing answers commonly done by many in paper and pencil tests are not allowed in adaptive assessment. 

If a company or business preprogrammed the adaptive assessment or CAT in a way that utilizes time limits, budgeting time by the test-taker to figure out how much time they have for each question is impossible. Waiting on an answer might predetermine the AI to conclude that a candidate has failed on that part of the exam, failing to gauge a candidate’s proficiency efficiently.

adaptive assessment

Adaptive Assessment is Tricky

The working of adaptive assessment is a wonder, but oftentimes, however intelligent AIs are now becoming, humans can detect a pattern that could work for them.

Since adaptive assessments present a more straightforward question for the following question, if a test-taker answers the one incorrectly, a knowledgeable and astute job candidate might see a pattern and deliberately choose incorrect answers each time, leading to the AI giving them an easier exam. 

Tricking the adaptive assessment can be possible, and candidates can cheat the system to benefit them. This seems far fetched, but it shows that although this system is effective in so many ways, it also has its flaws. 

Adaptive Assessment is Assessment for Every One, In Every Field 

The 21st century has witnessed an appreciation and recognition of many factors concerning how many of us learn, process information, and test differently. Thanks to adaptive assessment, which can make the job easier across industries. 

In human resources solutions — in all realms and scope of their workings but particularly in the recruitment pre-funneling process, an adaptive assessment will help not to waste the company or the business’ time and the candidate’s. 

Since we are still living in this Covid-19 reality, almost every home now has a computer or at least a smartphone. With an adaptive assessment available for HR to use, recruiting from home that is personalized and tailored for every job applicant is now made very accessible. 

Aside from adaptive assessment making them work for everyone more accessible, it will also add to the business by improving employee experience in many ways. One of the things that adaptive assessment has improved is the time taken away from both parties involved in the recruitment process. A shorter, personalized, and more straightforward pre-employment examination will not feel like a hassle and a discouragement. 

For the recruitment team, the many benefits of adaptive testing would give them time to focus on even improving their functions more. Gone are the days when HR would be single handedly correcting each and every one of the pre-assessment exams since the technology of the adaptive assessment or CAT will do it for them quickly, in real time. 

Final Thoughts

Although the pandemic has halted operations in its early days, humans are ingenious enough to shift and adjust to the tide in order to keep systems, companies, and businesses working. The recruitment or hiring process has seen more progress over the past 2 years than it ever did. 

Things that are theoretical and considered cutting edge for companies already using them, like virtual interviews, adaptive assessments, and what have you, are now the reality for most of these hiring practices. 

Given the many benefits of digitization in testing and assessment, one could conclude that HRs will no longer be going back to traditional pen and paper tests again. 

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