By Sally Lyberger, Senior Business Analyst, Monster Government Solutions and Anthony Alipio, Senior Product Manager, Monster Government Solutions 

The White House issued an Executive Order (EO) on Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates that will change the way federal agencies hire moving forward. These changes don’t have to be intimidating! Our experts at Monster Government Solutions examined this EO and compiled the key takeaways and how it will impact agencies in the months ahead.

This Executive Order highlights the desire to modernize and change how federal agencies hire their candidates.

The ultimate goal of these changes is to have greater applicant differentiation. Applicants will still need experience directly related to the position and must provide examples on their resumes to address that experience. For jobs that require a specialty degree, like in the science or health fields, they will still require pertinent degrees. However, reviewers should not be relying solely on a college degree to confirm if an applicant has the specific skill sets required to optimally perform in a position. That’s where a smarter assessment strategy and better applicant assessment tools can really help.

Skills-based assessments are effective.

They’re more effective because you’re looking at a particular skill that a person could bring to a position, rather than just guessing at their potential. With a skills-based test, for example, there are right answers and there are wrong answers. These assessments provide more accurate information about an applicant’s true skill because they are objective instead of opinion-based. It’s the difference between asking, “So, do you know math?” versus, “Solve for X.” Anyone can (and nearly everyone will) respond “Yes” to the first question, but an applicant will need to possess the right skills to correctly answer the second question. By having a skills-based assessment process, you’ll end up with a better list of qualified candidates to interview.

It’s important for HR and hiring managers to work together on the assessment strategy, because an applicant may be able to better explain and illustrate their experience in relation to a question in the interview process, given the interview setting. Collaboration between hiring managers and HR in constructing the questions will help differentiate applicants, and not make it easy for applicants to receive a high score by simply guessing. Essentially, you want to ‘degamify’ the assessment.

Agencies can begin to act now.

Start reviewing your question libraries now! Use industrial-organizational psychologists to help you better understand how selecting officials and subject matter experts evaluate degrees for administrative and entry-level positions. Many people simply look at the college from where a candidate graduated, versus their skills, which need to matter more. Make sure you’re examining the questions and looking at the responses too. And it is important to ensure they’re not out of date or inadequate to the point you are unable to determine differentiation between candidates.

Agencies should consider making an upfront investment in assessment technology today, which will result in less work for HR staff and hiring managers down the road.  Effective assessments help to eliminate unqualified applicants particularly those for mission-critical occupations.

Monster Government Solutions has the tools in place to help guide agencies through these changes.

We can build customized assessments with our Monster Applicant Assessment offering, as well as offer a catalog of standard assessments that are equally effective in meeting agencies’ needs. We have staff in place to help develop and execute a program that works specifically for you and your agency looking at a variety of skill sets, from entry- to expert- level positions.

And we’re constantly updating our systems with the most current information. For example, when OPM updates its standards of classification, our systems are also quickly updated to meet the latest reference data or classification!

Check out our Monster Applicant Assessment page for more information and how to get started with the Executive Order.