Generation Z may (not) be tested


In this article, we delve into the question of whether method-based personnel selection can still thrive in the current job market or if it should be abandoned due to the fear of losing potential applicants. At HRpepper, we maintain that one is possible without the other. The key lies in conducting thorough and appreciative diagnostics, leading to a higher influx of quality applications.

By Annika Olofsson and Mila Rangoonwala

If, as stated in the Future of Jobs Report (2023), approximately half of the core skills will change in the next five years, it becomes challenging, if not impossible, to outline the requirements of a specific position that won’t become obsolete shortly. Consequently, for personnel selection, comprehensive personality traits and attitudes emerge as the most crucial factors, complemented by the ability and motivation to learn and adapt. Extracting this information from CVs and application letters (crafted with ChatGPT) is challenging, necessitating in-depth diagnostics. Simultaneously, amidst a shortage of skilled workers and with Generation Z entering the workforce, companies are concerned about potentially alienating applicants by systematic testing. But is this concern valid, and is the risk worth taking when making hiring decisions?

Current Results on the Use of Test Procedures

Despite their comparatively high validity (Sackett, Zhang, Berry, & Lievens, 2022), diagnostic procedures like cognitive and personality tests are still sparingly used in practice due to manageable costs and time investment. Schuler, Hell, & Armoneit (2020) found that low usage is attributed to users perceiving the social validity and acceptance of these procedures as low among applicants. In contrast, Beermann, Kersting, Stegt & Zimmerhofer (2013) demonstrate that job-related personality questionnaires are positively received in selection procedures, as applicants perceive them as controllable, rating the measurement quality of cognitive procedures particularly high. Recent surveys indicate that Generation Z places great importance on being perceived and addressed as individuals (Francis & Hoefel, 2018). When implemented effectively, diagnostic procedures can meet this expectation by focusing on individuals, providing detailed records, and offering an additional opportunity for self-awareness.

Successful Use of Diagnostics

To successfully integrate cognitive procedures and personality tests in recruiting, it’s crucial to ensure that performance-relevant characteristics are recorded, not just for validity but also for acceptance. Additionally, applicants should be transparently informed about:

  • The relationship between the test procedure and the job advertisement,
  • Why the test procedure is a good predictor,
  • How the test procedure factors into the final decision, and
  • The personal added value for applicants participating in the test.

The design of the application experience is pivotal, with no limits. At HRpepper, we view diagnostics in all its forms as an intervention for organizational and individual development. Alongside individual feedback on test results and subsequent advice on development or career paths, creative options like sharing individual results or fit scores on social media can be offered to create a unique experience.

An individualized and transparent application process, aligned with the needs of Generation Z, not only results in better decisions but also has several positive side effects: A positive online experience impacts employer branding, increasing the likelihood that applicants will accept a job offer and recommend the organization to friends and acquaintances (Schuler, Hell, & Armoneit, 2020). Moreover, a positive overall perception of the recruiting process ultimately enhances commitment and long-term satisfaction with the job and organization.