Top 3 Ways To Assess Communication Skills

So, you want to assess communication skills? Start by deciding what communication means for you. Communication is a broad concept and has many levels, for example, just to name a few:

Written communication (emails, reports, proposals)

Communicating with impact (public speaking, articulating information, explaining a point: confidence and persuasiveness)

Informal communication (relating to others, building rapport, cracking a joke)

Forming connections (networking strategically and forming deep connections with others, showing understanding and empathy)

As we’re dealing with such a broad topic, if you truly want to get a thorough understanding of your candidates’ communication skills, you may want to consider the following.

Behavioural Assessment

Ever hated your job? That’s probably because it didn’t suit your behaviour. Take me for example: I. Hate. Public. Speaking. It riddles me with anxiety, my heart pounds, my hands shake and then I’m exhausted for hours afterwards from all the energy expended from my stress. Imagine if I had to do public speaking every day! I would hate my job. It wouldn’t inspire me and I’d feel unmotivated to go to work. Then I’d quit and my boss would need to find someone else. So, if you’re interviewing me for a role where I’d be presenting to large groups daily, wouldn’t you like to know this beforehand?

This is where behavioural assessments come into play. These reports show the candidate’s workplace preferences. For example, on the Saville Wave Professional Styles Assessment, there is a Competency called “Communicating Information”. This Competency refers to someone’s preference for Convincing People, Articulating Information in contexts such as public speaking and Challenging Others’ Ideas. Guess what my score was for this!

It’s important to note that this is a prediction of potential and what I prefer to do at work. I am certainly able to give a decent presentation – because I have to sometimes! I do a reasonable job, but would I like to do this every day? Hell no!

Verbal Reasoning Assessment

This same research found that although a combination of assessments and structured interviews is the leading predictor of on-the-job performance, the leading standalone predictor is cognitive ability. For jobs where communication skills are highly valued, verbal reasoning assessments are an excellent predictor of how someone may reason with, comprehend and work through problems expressed in words on the job. Skills like these are predictors of good written communication.

Structured Interviews

Comprehensive research suggests that a leading predictor of on the job performance (with a predictive validity of 0.65) is a combination of structured interviews and highly validated personality assessments. This is because personality assessments allow us to identify predicted strengths and development areas for candidates at work, and interviews help us to confirm or further investigate the results of these reports. Using multiple methods of assessment ultimately provides greater, compounded validity. This way, you get the validity and fairness of structure, alongside the human touch of a candidate face-to-face.

So what’s the perfect way to assess communication skills? Use all 3! The more information you gather, the less likely you are to make a poor hiring decision.

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