AI Testing for Communication Skills: Will It Replace the Job Interview?

Communication skills are, without a doubt, vital for any job and any career. Effective written or spoken communication is necessary for sending and receiving messages in person, by phone, email, or communication platforms such as Zoom or Click-Up. Communication must also be adjusted for your audience, whether you speak with a co-worker, customer, or supervisor.

Traditionally, employers evaluate a future employee’s communication skills based on the content of their resume, their writing skills in their application, and how they communicate during their interview.

From this assessment, employers determine how suitable the candidate’s communication skills are for their future job. If their assessment is correct, they will have a suitable candidate. If their assessment is wrong, they will have wasted valuable time and resources.

The communication skills required to ace the interview process are not necessarily the same as those needed for the future employee’s job. How we communicate with potential employers is not the same as with customers or supervisors.

One solution is to test a candidate’s communication skills by recreating communication scenarios that are similar to what the future employee will encounter on the job. These scenarios can be duplicated through computerized assessments.

How effective are assessments at determining a candidate’s communication skills? It depends on the skills you are testing and how closely the tests mimic actual work scenarios.

Communication Skill Tests Reveal a Candidate’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Communication skills are one of many soft skills that are transferrable across occupations and industries. Soft skills include leadership, creativity, problem solving and time management.

Communication skills are more than listening and speaking. They include observation, empathy and non-verbal communication.

How well can a candidate convey an urgent message to their team? How well can they use technology to understand a customer’s issue and communicate an appropriate solution?

In addition to the job interview, we can ask a candidate to complete a standardized communication test online or complete a language assessment. However, these tests might not evaluate how well the candidate pays attention to detail, shows empathy, or demonstrates active listening.

A skills assessment created for the types of scenarios that a candidate will face on the job will more accurately test their strengths and weaknesses.

Will the candidate be managing teams and multiple projects? An AI test scenario could be a recording of a team member calling in to say he cannot meet the deadline because of a family emergency. In the recording, he summarizes what he has completed and what still needs to be done.

As part of the test, the candidate records their response on the phone call. Do they show empathy in their response? Do they show active listening skills when they repeat the details of what needs to be assigned to another team member? How clearly do they articulate their message if the test requires a timed response?

This is just one example of using AI assessments to determine how a candidate will communicate in a workplace situation.

Test for Specific Types of Communication

To decide what types of communication to include in an assessment, an employer first needs a clear and detailed description of the future employee’s job. What will be their responsibilities on a day-to-day basis? Who will they interact with? What problems will they need to solve?

When the employer has created this description, the next step is to determine what communication skills are needed to perform those tasks.

Some skills that employers often test for include:

  • Active listening: Showing the speaker that the listener is involved by nodding, paraphrasing what was said, or asking questions that show the listener heard what was said.
  • Comprehension skills: Understanding and responding to straightforward or complex workplace problems.
  • Language proficiency: Articulating clearly and efficiently the speaker’s message to the audience.
  • Problem solving: Providing a solution in a clear, concise manner with minimal or no errors.
  • Social skills: Dealing with customers or co-workers, particularly if there has been a misunderstanding or the other person is emotionally distressed over an issue.
  • Adaptability: Handling new situations that were not taught in training or haven’t previously occurred at the workplace.

After deciding what types of communication skills to test for, the next step is to create a test that can accurately assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses for these skills.

Why Use an AI Communication Skills Test?

AI software has greatly improved over time. Assessments provide a more accurate evaluation of the candidate’s communication skills, allowing recruiters and employers to assess a candidate’s suitability for a specific role.

These tests can be completed as part of the interview process at the employer’s office or at the candidate’s home after logging into the testing system.

As technology continues to advance, companies have changed how they operate. More people can work from home, meaning companies have become more global. One company can hire employees from multiple cities and even other countries.

The benefit is without the limitation of location, companies can hire the candidate with the best skill set for the role, regardless of where the candidate lives. However, communication skills become even more crucial with remote teams if employees no longer meet in person.

With these changes to companies, communication skills become even more vital. How will the candidate handle problem solving when working at home? How will they use the technology to communicate by email, phone, or communication apps to solve a customer’s issue or work with team members they have never met?

With AI communication testing, the employer can re-create scenarios that occur with their customers. The candidate will complete a typical scenario they will encounter by phone or email on the job.

Their answer is then recorded and evaluated. Unlike standard testing, with AI assessments, more than one answer is possible. The candidate might not know the correct answer to a question because they are unfamiliar with the company policy or procedure. However, the employer can review how the candidate responded and evaluate only the clarity of the answer.  

These communication assessments can evaluate many types of verbal and written communication scenarios between employees and the customers, co-workers, and supervisors.

These customer/employee interactions and employee/co-worker interactions cannot be evaluated in an interview. However, they can be recreated in an AI communications assessment.

Key Takeaways

Communication skills are one of many soft skills vital to one’s ability to perform well on the job. Communication is in many forms: on the phone, by email, through messaging apps, and is more than listening to words and responding. It includes our use of language, empathizing with the speaker, how well we problem solve, and our active listening skills.

When searching for the right candidate for the job, employers need to evaluate the candidate for communication skills, but an accurate assessment isn’t necessarily possible during an interview. An AI assessment can recreate typical scenarios that the candidate will encounter when working with customers and their team while on the job.

These more accurate assessments of a candidate’s skill set will result in better hires and a more efficient hiring process.

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4 thoughts on “AI Testing for Communication Skills: Will It Replace the Job Interview?

  1. This is a great post and something any person conducting interviews should have as part of their tool kit. Its good to see that AI has come a long way in this area. Back in the day when I was recruiting and overseeing recruiting, studies at the time showed that it was 50/50 whether you used a structured approach to interviews or went by gut feel. I found that interesting at the time and I often pondered what would be the best way to go about coming up with the best candidates.

    Liked by 1 person

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