SI Review: August 2013

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The Buzz

Get Smarterer

Online Testing ‘For Hire’

By Andrew Karpie

Test driving businesses

Skills testing and assessments have long been used as a qualifying tool applied to candidates already well along on their way in the recruiting and hiring process. But technology has been driving a renaissance lately in how skills testing can be valuable to recruiters, clients AND candidates and how it can be used much earlier in the matching and screening process. While there are many new developments in this online skills testing segment, one young company seems to exemplify, particularly well, the spirit of this movement. That company, founded in 2010 in Boston, bears the clever and hard-to-pronounce name of Smarterer.

Got Smarts, Get Hired

“Smarterer is a platform designed to score individuals on any and every digital, social and technical skill under the sun. Using crowdsourced test design and a scoring mechanism similar to the one developed to rank chess masters, in just 10 questions and 60 seconds we can give you a valid score,” the company says.

Of course, current technology (the Web and online social platforms) ensure that tests can be presented to potential candidates in the far reaches of cyberspace. But how can these tests be developed and guaranteed to be reliable? And how can potential candidates be motivated to take the tests?

Smarterer tackles both of these challenges in unique, innovative ways.

First of all, Smarterer employs crowdsourcing to develop reliable test design and content, ensuring that tests are current and reflect the knowledge of the people who really know.

Second, Smarterer uses advanced technology to dynamically present the right questions based on the responses of the test-taker. As the company puts it: “Smarterer’s scoring algorithm is based on the Glicko rating system, which is used for chess, NCAA [sports playoff ] trees and a variety of gaming platforms. Our adaptation creates a realtime competition between each question and each test-taker. Our algorithm is continuously learning from user interactions and getting smarter about how to rank each question and each user.”

Finally, Smarterer not only makes the tests “easy” and quick to take, it also embeds the tests in an engaging and rewarding learning context and community in which test takers become active learners. So there are several value propositions for Smarterer test takers, including gauging their knowledge and skills, developing their knowledge and skills and making themselves more matchable and employable for certain jobs. The bottom line is that there are many reasons for test takers to engage, even before they have shown an interest in any particular job.

What’s the Buzz?

Smarterer has virtually reinvented skills testing, by designing a technology-enabled platform through which various stakeholders are incented to invest their time and/or money to accomplish certain goals. For example, workers can assess their capabilities and improve them. Sourcers and recruiters can access a pool of pre-screened candidates in which skills to perform certain jobs has already been validated. With Smarterer, sourcers and recruiters are not just getting butts into seats, they are getting the right brains engaged in the right work. For candidates, it’s all about testing — not dressing — for success.

Andrew Karpie is an affiliate analyst with Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at  akarpie@staffingindustry.com

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