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Capability Assessments For Every Stage of the Employee Lifecycle

Posted by Cassie Sanchez | | No Comments

We recently promised a deep-dive into using capability assessments throughout the employee lifecycle. Today is that day. Quick review to get us on the same page before we jump in: While in our previous post we spoke more generally about the practice of assessing capabilities, in this article, “capability assessments” refers to structured, standardized assessments designed to measure current and prospective employees’ skills and strengths, and determine their interests and passions. These assessments are conducted systematically and with intention and rigor (as opposed to informally and/or intermittently). All good? Okay, let’s discuss.

We’ll walk through the applications and associated benefits of capability assessments throughout the employee experience, by lifecycle stage and in order, from screening to succession planning.

Capability Assessments for Screening

When you use capability assessments in conjunction with capability frameworks, you pre-screen candidates and rule out those who don’t meet the basic requirements for the role. What are capability frameworks? As you might guess based on the name, they’re essentially role profiles — with unique categories and custom, pre-set skill levels — that outline the fundamental competencies a person should have coming into the role to be set up for success. Evaluating assessments against frameworks is an efficient, straightforward way to get to your interview shortlist faster.

Capability Assessments for Interviewing

Interviewing is a skill, and unfortunately not one many people have mastered (in some cases, by a long shot). Plus, the very nature of interviewing — human-to-human interaction — is ripe for bias and unintended influence. Everything from real discrimination to a really bad lunch can impact how an interview goes, and by extension, an applicant’s candidacy.

There are several important measures to take to improve interviewing at your organization; one of them is using data from capability assessments to generate “interview kits.” An interview kit equips interviewers with objective info on where candidates fall within desired skill-level ranges. This allows for a deeper, more productive discussion — interviewers can dig into specific experiences or ask clarifying questions — and gives structure to the interview.

Capability Assessments for Hiring

In addition to screening and interviewing, capability assessments help you make better, faster, smarter hiring decisions. And it’s not (just) what you’re thinking — it goes beyond a simple evaluation of who has which skills and to what degree.

Let’s consider an example: You find, with the help of assessments, that your top two candidates have roughly the same overall skill level, but big differences in terms of their skill gaps. Using data gathered in the performance management and learning and development phases of the employee experience, you can determine which candidate is ultimately most likely to be successful in the role based on which competencies they’ll need to build on the job. Basically, you’ll know from current employees’ performance which skill gaps are not a big deal, and which are deal-breakers.

Capability Assessments for Onboarding

This one’s pretty straightforward, though no less powerful. Capability assessments at the onboarding stage, specifically the competency gaps they reveal, help you create a personalized ramp-up program for each new hire. Individual skill levels and competencies are different for every person, of course, so tailoring the onboarding process with a custom learning and training plan only makes sense.

Capability Assessments for Performance Management

Great managers really get to know their direct reports — their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and aspirations — and provide each of them frequent feedback and meaningful coaching. At least, that’s the goal. The reality is that even the most caring, dedicated bosses have too much on their plates to get that deep with their employees on a regular basis.

Capability assessments help with that. The heavy lifting of assessing employees’ current capabilities and measuring their progress against their goals is taken care of, and gives all parties objective information with which to evaluate and plan. Managers can strategically assign new responsibilities or connect employees to internal initiatives and stretch projects, all based on data and target career paths.

Capability Assessments for Learning and Development

Identifying skill gaps and future career goals logically lays the perfect groundwork for building optimal (personal) learning and development plans. These data make matching individual employees with the right learning assets, leadership programs, and even mentors easy and efficient. And with opportunities for growth being a huge driver of engagement and retention, there are big benefits to making L&D at your organization as strong as it can be.

Capability Assessments for Succession Planning

The most obvious application here is the same basic “capability framework + capability assessment” formula from the screening and hiring phases — in this case, to screen and hire candidates for your most critical roles as they open up.

What’s less obvious and on a whole other strategic level is utilizing assessments to build the frameworks themselves. Not only can you use the current incumbent’s strengths and skill levels as benchmarks for constructing the ideal candidate profile, but you can also consider team-wide — maybe even organizational level — knowledge and experience gaps, and aim to fill them with the successor by adding them to the framework.

Another powerful benefit of using capability assessments is mitigating bias. From non-obvious or non-traditional potential leaders getting unintentionally overlooked to managers subconsciously selecting employees most like themselves as successor, data from capability assessments can identify who best to funnel into leadership tracks, minus the unimportant (sometimes even false) signals.


Capability assessments are one of those unique tools that have broad application and spillover benefits throughout the organization. Plus, if you’re using smart talent software or even just employing basic data analysis, collecting data points at every stage of the employee lifecycle, as outlined here, will give you the info you need to make intelligent talent decisions. Worried about how to manage it all? That’s what an end-to-end platform is for — check it out or reach out for a chat.

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