Personal skills testing: How to Conduct the Skills Assessment Interview

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Professional Skills - Assessment Tests - Appraisal Interviews - Job Candidate

At a time when such a variety of personality tests (the quality of which can greatly differ) is offered on the HR Management market, it may be useful to recall what the purpose of personal skills assment tests actually consists in. Indeed, their main advantage, as opposed to a simple interview, is to help the assessor in asking a large number of questions, which would be impossible without a computerized tool.

Thus, a personal skills test, as reliable as it may be, should only be performed if a debriefing interview can be offered afterwards, so that its results may be discussed.


We can consider that there are three types of interviews on the HR market, which themselves correspond to three levels of professionalism in the conduct of the assessment:

  1. Feedback: A person who has been spending time to answer a questionnaire is entitled to a minimum amount of information on the results obtained. All candidates should thus at least be handed over a graph or a synthesis of their results.
  2. Validation Interview: All tests have a more or less significant error margin. Moreover, the same test may present a different error margin depending on the candidate. Therefore, an interview should offer all candidates the opportunity to confront their results and even challenge them. They should also contribute to the interpretation by clarifying certain points and by illustrating their explanations with real-life examples. Therefore, the candidate becomes a partner in dialogue, thus banning any temptations to enter a dominant-dominated relationship.
  3. Assessment Interview: In addition to establishing the candidate’s knowledge, this type of interviews seek to cover the areas of convergence and divergence of a job, a project, or any other, current or future activity. A development plan can be designed following this process.  A new report can be scheduled later to measure the progress and impact of the development actions that have been taken.


Here are the main steps that can be included in an assessment interview:

  • Presentation of results: The assessor briefly presents (10-15 minutes) the results obtained for the diverse assessment criteria and provides their definitions. It is necessary that the assessor also inform the candidate about the time needed to validate the results and which cannot exceed 6 months to 1 year.
  • Discussion of results: The assessor discusses the results with the candidate by asking open questions. The candidate then has the opportunity to say how does he/she generally acts in real-life situations, clarify his/her point of view, discuss extreme cases he/she has experienced, etc. Here, candidates may also challenge the assessor's interpretation or the test results themselves, although they will have to explain why they deem them to be inaccurate. This approach will allow the assessor both to validate and nuance  the results, and even to correct their initial interpretation. It also allows candidates to gain a deeper self-knowledge, as they will be able to link the assessment's results to their professional experience.

Thus, it is obvious that even though they may allow structuring the assessment interview, skill-assessment tests can in no way replace the human relationship between the candidate and the assessor.


For this relationship to allow the establishment of a climate of mutual trust and so that it may lead to a genuine partnership with the candidate, it is necessary to observe the following points:

  1. Do not ask personal questions
  2. Do not force your point of you upon the candidate when there is a divergence of opinion and that he/she does not show receptiveness to it. These points of disagreement, however, ought to be identified. They may subsequently be further investigated with tools such as discussion with the candidate's personal references, assessment exercises, periodical appraisals, etc.
  3. Sometimes people try to engage and open up by revealing some information about their private life. Listen to what they have to say about their health or emotions, but do not communicate the information to anyone else. Do not seek to investigate this data.
  4. Build the development plan TOGETHER with the candidate.


We invite you to read the article "How to Conduct an Assessment Interview – Sample Performance Appraisal" which provides practical tools for the assessment of behavioral skills in a professional context.

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