Candidate Screening vs. Talent Assessment: What's the Difference?

Businesses with the goal of “hiring the best talent,” need a strategic game plan to do so. When faced with an influx of applications, hiring technologies are excellent at whittling down the candidate pool while keeping high quality candidates in consideration. Utilizing software tools for candidate screening and talent assessments is a common tactic to accomplish this, across businesses of all sizes and industries.

But, what’s the difference between candidate screening and talent assessment? While they’re not all that different from one another and aim to accomplish similar goals, they’re stronger tools when used in tandem to help narrow hiring down to the most qualified candidates. With these candidate evaluation practices and how well they work together, hiring managers can feel confident with their hiring decisions.

Why is Candidate Evaluation Important?

Before a company can extend an offer to a candidate, they need to first spend time determining how the candidate will perform and fit in with the rest of the team. This is where they assess skills, behavior, culture fit, team fit, and prior experience. Without proper vetting or evaluation, a company might be left hiring someone who cannot do the job, doesn’t get along with the team, or even someone who does more harm than good.

In cases where someone is hired who engages in toxic or harmful misconduct behaviors, it doesn’t take much misconduct in the workplace to be costly and damaging to a brand’s reputation. Instances of severe misconduct can even have legal repercussions, hurting the public’s perception and ability to trust the company for allowing a bad hire through their doors in the first place.

Additionally, misconduct can increase turnover rates, causing a business to use more resources to hire and train new employees and leaving employees who remain left to pick up the slack of those who have left. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the damaging effects of a poor quality of hire. Luckily, there are ways to avoid these situations, and one is with candidate evaluation.

Of course, candidate evaluation is a normal part of any hiring process. This is the portion between applying and extending an offer where the hiring manager is trying to get to know a candidate in order to predict what kind of value they might bring with them. To do this, many businesses opt for things like interviews or video interviews, candidate screening, talent assessments, and more.

Candidate Screening, Talent Assessment, and the Evaluation Process

Acquiring talent is a multi-step process that helps hiring teams find and evaluate the best candidates. And, screening and assessing candidates is just a portion of this process. If executed with the right tools, these evaluations can foster a positive experience for both applicants and hiring managers.

Once a candidate has submitted their application, it’s time to begin screening and assessing them to determine how well they might fit into the company if extended an offer, and how well they can perform the duties of the role. These important steps can occur in a few different places in the hiring process. Many businesses will conduct candidate screenings before inviting an applicant to interview, while others may wait until later in the candidate journey.  

In other words, the hiring process will look different for different roles, different levels, and different businesses. But, both candidate screening and talent assessments add value to the process by providing a more in-depth understanding of an applicant and what they are bringing to the table.

Before getting into the key differences between the two, let’s establish a baseline understanding of each.

Candidate Screening

In a broad sense, candidate screening is about evaluating applicants in order to determine if they’re a good fit for the role, and whether or not they will add value to the company if hired. To start, candidates are evaluated for their credentials, expertise, and experience by reviewing submitted applications, resumes, and cover letters. Within the larger candidate screening category of evaluations lies a plethora of screening methods to help hiring teams better understand candidates.

Pre-screening helps determine which applicants should move onto the interview stage. Today, this portion often uses AI technology to scan applications and resumes to see which applicants meet the basic requirements of the job, helping to narrow down the applicant pool before the hiring team conducts any additional screening or assessments.

Additionally, there are a few candidate screening methods that can uncover essential information which may not appear in an initial application screening. For example, a social media screening can scan an online profile for keywords that might indicate a good value add for a company.

Similarly, a social media screen might identify negative, harmful, or even illegal behaviors that would indicate the applicant should be removed from the hiring process for information on their public profiles that couldn’t be determined by a simple resume review. As an example, if a candidate was sharing racist or misogynistic content, harassing or threatening others, or showcasing violence.

In other words, candidate screening adds another layer of understanding regarding a candidate. And, hiring teams may choose to conduct online or social media screens at any point of the hiring process. In particular, many choose to apply candidate screening methods during the early stages in order to create a shortlist of applicants that should move on in the hiring process.

For example, a video interview tool, often used asynchronously, can provide questions for an applicant to respond to. Their answers will be recorded for the hiring team to review, allowing for more collaboration and reducing the time to hire.

Talent Assessment

While candidate screening tools narrow down applicant pools to the most qualified candidates, talent assessments can take this even further. Among talent assessments, which is another broad category of talent evaluation practices, there are many types that can be applied for a wide range of positions, such as behavioral, skills, technical, psychometric, and language tests to name a few.

Depending on the requirements of the position, hiring teams will choose the most appropriate type of talent assessment. And, talent assessments may be assigned at any time before extending an offer letter. Some businesses may choose to begin with an in-depth skills assessment after receiving a resume, while others might wait until after they have completed an initial interview.

On a more specific level, a talent assessment might include a job simulation to determine how well the candidate performs certain tasks, a writing assignment to determine typing skills, or a psychometric test to measure behavior and personality. With the scope of talent assessments fairly wide, talent assessments can also be administered at various stages of the hiring process.

Take, for example, a technical assessment. This kind of talent evaluation tool is used for technical roles that require certain skills and knowledge. If a candidate will be working with bilingual clients once hired, then they will be required to take a language exam to determine proficiency. The data gathered during these talent assessments will help hiring teams predict how well a candidate might perform in the job.

Key Differences Between Candidate Screening and Talent Assessment

Candidate screening and talent assessments are both valuable parts of the hiring process, and can help hiring teams evaluate candidates for hard and soft skills. Looking to evaluate how well candidates might perform under pressure? A simulation-based assessment can help. Want to learn more about how they treat people in their everyday lives? Conducting a social media screening is best.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in regards to how the two are different from one another. Let’s take a closer look.

Time to Complete

Another factor to consider is the time it takes to complete a candidate screening in comparison to a skills assessment. Certain types of screening can take longer or shorter. As an example, social media screening software can scan online profiles while hiring teams focus on other tasks. Instead of individually sifting through social media platforms looking for indications of misconduct or positive personality or workplace competency predictors, which can be very time consuming, this can all be accomplished in a fraction of the time.

Depending on the talent assessment format, the time needed to complete the assessment can vary. Between having to let the candidate know they will need to complete an assessment to the candidate completing the assessment, many of which are still taking 45 minutes or more for candidates to complete, assessments can take up a good amount of time.

In other words, some of the more modern screening methods don’t rely on time-consuming action from the candidates and can be more passive through software tools that run a scan of the candidate’s online profiles. While talent assessments, on the other hand, are more active and require applicants to complete a usually time consuming task. However, for both, there are a variety of software tools available to ease the process.

Focus of Content

Social media and online screening can be used to assess all kinds of important things including personality traits, workplace competencies, and even misconduct issues. Each of these are usually things that can’t necessarily be gleaned from a first glance at a resume and might require a bit of digging to uncover.

For example, positive indicators found through a social media screening might indicate how creative a candidate is or how well they can build relationships with others, predictors that show alignment with company values. On the other hand, a social media screening can also uncover harmful or offensive language that might indicate the applicant could engage in poor or even violent behavior if hired.

In contrast, the content within a talent assessment will usually focus primarily on a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and cognitive abilities to complete tasks, depending on the type of assessment. For example, if a candidate has applied to a software engineering position, they might need to complete an exam to test their proficiency in a specific programming language. Anyone who doesn’t complete this kind of assessment at a satisfactory level is likely to be removed from the candidate pool. In fact, after screening and assessing candidates, just 10 percent of the applicants remain at this stage of the hiring process, according to findings from the Talent Board.

Screening and Assessment Goals

A third distinguishing factor between screening and assessments is the goal. If candidate screening aims to identify which of the applicants are qualified candidates, then talent assessment seeks to take those qualified candidates and determine which candidate is the best fit for the role.

With social media screening, hiring teams can uncover some of the most important workplace competencies as well as red flags from an applicant’s background. Any individual who goes through social media screening without any negative indications in their background will then move onto the talent assessment portion. Or, social media screening can be used in conjunction with a background check at the end of the process as an extra layer of protection.

How to Conduct Candidate Screening for Candidate Evaluation

Candidate screening and talent assessments are not new practices in the recruitment industry or hiring process. But, there are new technologies popping up all the time that aim to assist these vital processes when hiring. With the right tool, candidate and background screening like social media screening for qualified candidates can be completed efficiently, and give hiring teams detailed information about the applicants up for consideration. Plus, these tools can help teams sift through applicant pools and uncover new information about candidates of all skill levels.

Fama’s AI technology quickly scans online content and social media profiles to uncover which candidates may be a good or a bad fit for your company. Our online screening tool is compliant and can give you the information needed to add a good quality of hire to your team–not to mention this technology can integrate with a wide range of software tools that your company already uses.

Ready to get started? Be sure to check out our latest candidate screening tool: Instant Fit. In a matter of sections, you can reduce the amount of friction in your hiring process by scanning online profiles for indications of a good or bad hire. Reach out to Fama today to request a demo and learn more about our candidate screening tools.