The importance of assessments when working with external recruitment agencies

Anete Vesere (1)

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

Finding & attracting candidates has never been as difficult as it is now, even though seemingly there is both an overwhelming amount of open positions as there are individuals looking for jobs.


That’s why more and more companies as they rapidly grow are turning to external recruitment agencies when attempting to find and ultimately hire the right candidates. And maybe you’re doing the same as well. And yes, recruitment agencies can be of extreme help when it comes to finding and shortlisting the most high-quality candidates. 

However, there’s another important aspect that the majority of companies are forgetting about when using the services of external agencies – and that is that often without the right insights to provide these agencies with, there is also a lesser chance of making that one in a million hire

That’s why in this blog I’d like to tell you about what can go wrong when working with external recruitment agencies & how to avoid this. But first, in case, you’re never had or are considering using an external recruitment agency for hiring purposes – let me first explain to you what exactly it means & what benefits it has to offer!

What is a recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies source and place candidates across multiple levels and job functions. Individual recruiters service many clients and roles at any one time, though often within a niche.

Fees are based on a ‘per placement model’ where agencies negotiate a fee for successful hires or a retainer model where they carry out a campaign while paid a negotiated retainer fee, therefore they sometimes have to prioritise higher-value client accounts to maintain a good relationship and to maximise revenue.

P.S. Take a look at this blog Jenni Murto from Juno Talent wrote about Agency, RPO, or In-house: Which is the Right Fit for Your Recruitment Needs?

3 Benefits of working with external recruitment agencies

Now, there are a few advantages of working with external recruitment agencies.

Allows you to save precious time by accelerating your hiring process.

You won’t have to spend time attracting candidates and going through tons of profiles and applications to find a few qualified ones. A recruitment agency will do all that and deliver only a few top candidates for your consideration. 

External recruitment has a higher conversion rate.

This method attracts a wide variety of candidates with different abilities and skills, thereby increasing the chances of finding the right person for the job.

Encourages diversity.

A more diverse global workforce gives companies access to a wider variety of skills, experience and expertise that can improve their day-to-day processes. Using a number of external recruitment sources can expand the range of professionals within the organisation. Creating a diverse workforce in your organization and giving a platform to a range of voices is also proven to lead to multiple benefits.

What can go wrong if you don’t use assessments

It’s clear there are numerous positives to choosing a recruitment agency to help with your hiring needs. However, not all that glitters is gold…

Poor candidate experience.

Some recruiters are so focused on achieving sales, that they forget to provide a great candidate experience. And a whopping 60% of applicants have quit an application in the middle due to its length, complexity and because it’s been too stressful. 

This is most definitely not ideal considering the war for talent is higher than ever and the last thing you’d want is that one candidate running away to your competitor because they prioritize candidate experience.

A greater risk of making the wrong hiring decision.

An external hiring process open to anyone and everyone is likely to attract a higher percentage of unsuitable candidates. Furthermore, as they are an unknown quantity, it increases the chances that the recruiter will make the wrong choice. Why? Well, continue reading! 😉

It’s more likely the employee may not fit into the company or the position.

Sometimes, candidates look great on paper and come across well in an interview, but may not be the right cultural fit. And think about it – an external recruiter is less likely to be aware of whether a certain individual will add to your culture or perform well in the environment specific to your company.

Unfortunately, this happens more than you may think – and it can result in some significant cost implications…

Often more bias than objectivity.

It takes one-tenth of a second to make a wrong judgment about someone. So it comes as no surprise that first impressions can be misleading. And sadly, even if you might think an external recruitment agency might tackle this – you couldn’t be more wrong.

In most cases, in fact I’m sure that in 99.9% cases, external recruiting agencies screen candidates primarily based on the information that can be found in their CVs. And on top of that, their judgment on whom will make the best hire is heavily influenced by their own unconscious biases

So, what’s going wrong here? Let’s say an external recruiter has two profiles on their desk for a Head of Finance position at your company.

Candidate one has previous experience at Google, whereas candidate two has equal experiences but at lesser know companies. I am almost 99% sure that candidate number one would be the one whose CV would end up on your desk (or in your inbox, because killing trees to print CVs is just not the way to go). 

Not because they inherently know that this candidate is more suitable for the role. Instead as a result of their assumption that considering this candidate worked for Google – automatically implies they are more suitable for the job. Of course the external recruiter wants to provide you with the best of the best, yet advancing someone solely because of a “ex-..” not only drives discriminatory hiring practices, but also risks you ultimately making a mishire.

Long story short – bias left and right. 

Money, money, money, not always so funny.

Using a recruitment agency can be quite expensive. In general, recruitment agencies’ fees are around 20 to 30% of the employee’s annual salary. The cost of using a recruitment agency can get even higher if you’re looking to make a hire for a hard to fill role. Either way, when using a recruitment agency, you will have to pay a fixed fee every time you want to make a hire.

And imagine, what if after all those sunk costs, the new employee turns out to be a mishire? Oops. 

This is why pre-employment assessments matter also when working with external recruiters

Using assessments when working together with external recruitment agencies will lead to even more effective hiring process and ultimately more quality candidates. Here’s how.

Improved candidate experience.

As candidates already put quite some time and effort into applying to one of your jobs, the least you can do is make sure they have fun while doing this and each candidate is given an equal chance to showcase themselves as unique individuals.

Helps reveal information that is predictive of job success.

For example, did you know that there is NO correlation between job performance and education or even work experience? That’ s exactly why job fit and future job performance cannot be revealed through motivational letters or CVs. However, these aspects can be revealed by implementing pre-employment assessments and testing tools. 

For example, over the last decades, extensive research has been conducted to reveal the correlation between different candidate characteristics and job performance. Whereas the correlation between education and job performance is only .10, the correlation between cognitive ability (GMA) and job performance is .65. 

This means that someone’s cognitive ability (also called your General Mental Ability, the indicator for human intelligence) is 6.5x as predictive for future job performance than education.

On top of that, pre-employment assessments allow you to gather valuable insights about candidates in a standardized and objective manner.

Possibility to assess the current team (Team Analysis).

When hiring, there is often a gap between what we perceive are our hiring needs and what they actually are. If you are not aware of the actual hiring needs, you are also not able to provide the external recruitment agency with all the input they need to find you the best hire out there. A new hire is so much more than adding a set of extra skills to the team. A successful hire: fits within the team like a glove, contribute to existing personalities and behaviours within the team and enables your team to excel. 

That’s exactly why a successful hire starts with mapping out exactly who you need. And assessments that allow to analyse also your current teams, are of big help when it comes to assessing your current team composition in terms of top-performance indicators, skill gaps, and cultural characteristics, to objectively set your hiring requirements. 

Take it to the next level: Equalture’s game-based pre-employment assessments

Here at Equalture, we develop neuroscientific games to help companies make better hiring decisions.  

Our games, focused on measuring cognitive abilities and personality traits, not only assess your candidates but also your current team. 

Why game-based assessments over traditional ones

  1. They provide you with data-backed and objective insights that’ll allow you to start hiring for potential.
  2. Gamified cognitive ability tests reveal both conscious and unconscious behavior.
  3. No room for social desirability bias since candidates often don’t know which traits are measured per game and the only thing they can do is play.
  4. Gamified cognitive ability tests are more immersive. They make a candidate forget that they are assessed, thus reducing feelings of anxiety.
  5. By assessing the current team first, you will get a clear overview of the current representation of your team – so for example, if your team consists of highly flexible people only, or not. This will help you determine what to look for in your next hire. And thus provide the external recruitment agency with all the information they need to find you the best right talent.

There you have it – combine the best of both worlds to build teams that are future-proof! 

Ready to get started? Let’s have a chat, no strings attached! 😉

Cheers, Anete. 

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