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Enterprises at University of Pretoria leveraged talent assessments to vet language proficiency and predict job performance

Jenn BruscoJuly 12, 2023AssessmentsQualificationResource

How talent assessments helped predict job performance

The brief

About Enterprises at University of Pretoria

Enterprises at University of Pretoria is a proprietary limited company created to help generate additional income for the university through research and services to the private sector and government. The team’s mission is to create a hub for the development, implementation, management, and government of the business activities of the University of Pretoria, and provide access to a multidisciplinary range of training and research skills. 

Enterprises at University of Pretoria has been a distributor of SkillCheck, a branch of Symphony Talent, for over 15 years. Through its partnership with Symphony Talent, Enterprises at University of Pretoria are able to extend their capabilities, improve their marketability, and grow their business.

The challenge

Vet superior language proficiency and software skills for cadet training program, quickly

Enterprises at University of Pretoria was working with a client in the foreign ministry of a federal government who needed to select 90 employees to join a cadet training program and get assigned to various embassies in Europe and North America.

Specifically, these new employees had to have superior English language proficiency and software skills to produce comprehensible documents. An additional constraint for the client was that any assessments used to measure these skills needed to be concise and not take more than 90 minutes in total to complete.

The solution

Skills-based assessments with Symphony Talent, powered by Skillcheck

Enterprises at University of Pretoria recommended Symphony Talent’s Business Grammar, Proofreading, and MS Word assessments to the client. This assessment battery satisfied the time requirement for the client and adequately covered the skills required for the program. 

To measure success of the Symphony Talent assessments and their ability to predict job performance, the candidates also completed a timed writing exercise. The candidates had to use MS Word and provide a summary in their own words of a document supplied by the client. An English language expert in the Department of English at the University of Pretoria evaluated the summary for comprehension, fluency, accuracy, and style.

“Symphony Talent’s robust library of assessments makes it much easier to identify specific tests that can hone in on skills or aptitudes that our clients are looking for, and help them better gauge expected performance,” shared Pieter Schaap, Associate Professor, Enterprises at the University of Pretoria.

Results: Improved candidate evaluations and data-backed confidence in job performance

By leveraging Symphony Talent assessments, the client was able to confidently predict 31% of performance based on the language expert’s ratings, a number in line with prior research using similar assessments. 

Each assessment uniquely predicted task performance (i.e., document production). The Grammar and Proofreading tests also indirectly predicted task performance through MS Word skills. In other words, the better a person’s MS Word skills, the more attention and focus they could devote to applying language skills and producing quality writing. 

This outcome demonstrates the utility of adding MS Office skills-based assessments in conjunction with other skills-based competency assessments when hiring candidates in professional and administrative roles. A candidate who understands the functions of the MS Office suite can produce higher quality work more quickly, saving the company time and money and improving business outcomes. 

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