Virtual Assessment Centres for Bulk Recruitment: Do They Even Work?

Someone at a laptop with videoconferencing
Organisations across the globe adapted rapidly to new ways of working this year, as lockdowns and social distancing measures forced us all to think further outside the box than most of us ever thought possible.
For HorizonOne’s specialist scribing and campaigns team, one of the most exciting changes has been the increased acceptance of virtual assessment centres.

Previously only utilised by some departments, the events of 2020 gave those who were still undecided a great excuse to shake up traditional practices and give it a go.

The results have been impressive, with technology empowering our clients to remove distance barriers and significantly reduce costs – while still achieving the same high quality outcomes.

Here’s what we’ve learned from helping to facilitate virtual assessment centres this year…

Online written assessments save time

Traditionally completed in-person at an assessment centre, written assessments can now be done via our clients’ or HorizonOne’s online portal. Logistically, we’ve found this method frees up a lot of time and is welcomed by candidates.

The process is simple:

  1. We create the work sample test / scenario
  2. We upload it to the portal
  3. Candidates schedule themselves into a timeslot that suits them and the system is configured to the schedule
  4. Candidates complete their assessment and upload it to the system
  5. Assessors login in their own time to review responses

The increased acceptance of online assessments has also led to higher demand for our online psychometric testing, which we find to be a valuable tool for determining a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Video conferences make group activities easy

Group activities – a part of the bulk recruitment process for candidates who are successful in the written assessment – traditionally took place in an assessment centre that candidates and assessors had to travel to (sometimes in a different state) and spend countless hours in.

Now, we can complete group activities via video conferences which saves the organisation a lot of time and money. Candidates don’t need to be flown in from other states – which in turn opens up opportunities to invite more candidates or accommodate extras during the process because it’s not cost prohibitive.

One of the biggest concerns clients had about virtualising group activities was the perceived inability to read body language and observe how each person interacts with others. This is why we recommend a maximum of 6 candidates per activity.

With limited screens, it’s very easy to read body language and see each candidate clearly. Candidates can also see each other well so they communicate naturally, and the facilitator and assessors simply switch off their cameras and mute their microphones to limit background noise.

With video conferencing software now offering functionality such as screen sharing and whiteboards, the process is as seamless as having everyone in the same room.

Virtual interviews work

The final element of a bulk recruitment round is candidate interviews, which can now be scheduled via video conferencing software – at times that suit panel members’ availability.

With a clear view of body language, virtual interviews are proving as effective as their face-to-face counterparts. They also help solve the challenge of social distancing in small meeting rooms with a candidate, panel members and a scribe.

There is generally little downtime between interviews, which means panel members have more time for everything else they need to do in a day.

The only part of the bulk recruitment process that we can’t make virtual is where there is a requirement for physical testing. For example, we’re currently working with ACT Fire and Rescue on their 2020 recruitment round. Physical testing is still performed at an assessment centre, with extra measures to accommodate social distancing rules and ensure PPC is properly cleaned after use.

All in all we’ve found the move to virtual assessment centres very positive. We’ve used multiple tech platforms (depending on what our clients are using or if they opt to use ours) and all have been equally effective.

We can now do in 3 days what used to take a week, and it’s exciting to see how this will evolve in the future. No matter what happens, it’s always nice to have more options!