In today’s article, we review a recent study conducted by the TTS research team on the power of virtual assessment feedback. The impetus for this research was the ongoing need, magnified by current events, of providing clients with evidence-based, relevant, and future-proof value in their use of assessment solutions.
Indeed, in the contemporary talent landscape, where there is an increased need to extract maximum value from any intervention, it is important to leverage the full benefit of using objective assessments. Despite this, many users of assessments are not always fully aware of the true power that professional, structured assessment can bring to the talent conversation.
The benefits of assessment feedback: Past research
In preparing our own study on the effects of virtual assessment feedback, we reviewed existing research on the topic. For instance, Meyer (1998) found that presenting candidates with their assessment results had the benefit of helping them identify likely development areas and associated actions.
In addition, researchers have found that assessment feedback can accelerate a candidate’s development by providing insights. Such insights can be further harnessed to help guide onboarding and coaching of employees (Hazucha et al., 2011).
The benefits of assessment feedback also accrues to the candidate experience of assessment (and by implication, the company). Silzer and Jeanneret (2011) found that candidates who received professional assessment feedback appreciated how it contributed to their professional development and concretized their fit to the roles they had been assessed for.
Given these positive results, we wanted to explore how current, virtual assessment feedback practices, conducted by our IOP professionals, would possibly benefit candidates and clients alike.
Our virtual feedback study
In our study, we wanted to explore the participant experience of virtual assessment feedback. Both the experience component of this research as well as the virtual aspect of the feedback were important. In regards to the first, candidate experience is increasingly a focus area within IOP research because of the wide-reaching effects it has on employee value propositions, development of talent, and competitive market advantage.
In regards to the second component, most of us know that because of social distancing, virtual platforms will likely be the ubiquitous format through which feedback will be provided into the future. We were interested to see whether the virtual nature of professional feedback would have an influence on candidates’ experience of their feedback sessions.
Our data collection consisted of a short survey that was sent to participants after they had received virtual, telephonic feedback on their assessment results.
In the period from October 2019 to April 2020 we were able to collect data from 166 participants from across the many industries that TTS serves.
Summary of the results
Overall, the survey revealed broad support for not only the benefits of assessment feedback, but also the virtual nature of the feedback itself.
In general, 91% of participants experienced their feedback sessions as positive, despite the nature of the feedback often being focused on areas of development (see below for a summary of results in Figure 1).
In addition, 72% of participants felt that the feedback accurately targeted their development areas (see Figure 2):
Our study also found support for more specific benefits of assessment feedback.
For instance, 78% of participants strongly supported the appropriateness of the assessments used (Figure 3):
Related to the above finding, 79% of participants reported the feedback as having provided them with new insights into their behavior at work (Figure 4):
Assessment feedback as catalyst for change and development
Based on the above findings, we can conclude that receiving assessment feedback is generally a positive, insightful experience for recipients. But, we also suspected that the benefits of feedback extended beyond just such positive appraisals. Previous research has found that feedback can be a motivator and catalyst for behavior change.
Our results provided evidence for this as well. 90% of feedback recipients reported that feedback on their typical behavioral style would help them grow and develop (Figure 5) and 92% reported that the feedback provided would serve as a motivator for future change (Figure 6).
Assessment feedback needs to be professionally. mediated
While the above-mentioned benefits are powerful and encouraging, we would add the caveat that in order to fully realize them, the assessment feedback must be mediated by a trained professional.
IO Psychologists are trained over a number of years to provide feedback on assessment results based on best practices and while laypeople are certainly able to interpret candidate reports, reaping the full benefits from feedback requires professional mediation of the feedback session itself.
Our research found support for this in that participants had high praise for the professional feedback they received from TTS consultants with 93% and 89% of respondents indicating that the feedback providers were outstanding in their ability to explain the results and helped the participants to understand the implications of their assessment results (Figures 7 & 8):
Discussion and final thoughts
The results discussed in this research report strongly suggest that organizations can benefit immensely from providing candidates with professionally-mediated assessment feedback.
The virtual nature of feedback does not seem to lessen this impact, and our research showed no evidence of negative influence from the modality of feedback in this regard.
As a device for positive brand building and employer value, assessment feedback is already a powerful tool in the toolkit of talent professionals. But feedback also offers additional, potentially more powerful benefits.
Our research suggests that receiving professional, virtual feedback from an IOP professional can also lead to positive change, commitment toward personal development, and a confidence in such changes on the part of feedback recipients.
As such, assessment feedback can contribute to existing learning and development initiatives and have long-lasting positive effects inside the organization. Because of this and other benefits discussed in today’s report, we would argue that professional, virtual assessment feedback should be standard practice for all organizations that use or have used assessments for talent management and identification purposes.
If you would like to know more about TTS’s assessment feedback solutions, or would like to consult with us on how we can help your organization leverage the benefits of assessment data and feedback, drop us line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazucha, J. F., Ramesh, A., Goff, M., Crandell, S., Gerstnen, C., Sloan, E., Bank, J. & Van Katwyk, P. (2011), Individual psychological assessment: the poster child of blended science and practice. Industrial & Organizational Psychology, 4, 297-301.
Meyer, P. (1998). Communicating results for impact. In Jeanneret, R. and Silzer, R. (Eds), Individual Psychological Assessment: Predicting Behavior in Organizational Settings. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 243-282.
Silzer, R. & Jeanneret, R. (2011). Individual psychological assessment: a science and practice in search of common ground. Industrial & Organizational Psychology, 4, 270-296.