Recruiting teams will note many issues for not being able to fill a billet: whether that’s the salary being below market, an unattractive worksite, or terrible graveyard shift. However, we are seeing more that there is a talent gap due to customer requirements: ones that are arbitrary and are preventing qualified problem solvers from applying.

A conversation with industry, government, or academia will show that defense leaders understand this is an issue. Some federal agencies are even buying in to loosening requirements for the right candidate. One tool to show how viable candidates may not meet the government requirements on paper, but still can get the job done? Through skills and aptitude assessments.


A skills assessment is a test you can create as part of your hiring process to test an individual’s ability to perform a specific set of skills. For example, recruiting teams can evaluate of candidate skillsets specific each job they are sourcing – whether that’s for cybersecurity talent or a scrum master. These standardized, objective reviews can show positive results of candidate assessments that perhaps still don’t meet the bachelors degree requirement with 5 years of experience and a certification on top.

An essential tool for companies and recruiters alike, these evaluations can be made in accordance with government standards. For example, if you are evaluating cyber personnel, many assessments follow the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST framework, ensuring the test takers meet the skills and abilities that are still in line with what the government is seeking for cyber talent.

Skills or aptitude tests will measure if your candidates can actually do the work. It methodically calculates expertise, is associated to defense industry standards, and provides immediate feedback to employees or managers on how their teams can improve.

Most importantly, it saves valuable time and money by identifying qualified talent, skills gaps within your own workforce, and can prevent the back and forth debate between government, hiring manager, and recruiter on whether a candidate can perform in the role instead of shutting down motivated talent.

Assessment Predictive Validity and Bias

However, you will want to be aware of assessment predictive validity and bias. It’s critical for defense contractors and agencies to ensure at the beginning of implementing assessments into your hiring process that these evaluations have predictive validity, which mean the test is gauging expertise / knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential and relevant to the job they are attached to. Organizations should also be aware of bias that some tests can have or specific job openings (i.e., certain physical assessments weeding out women over men), as they measure the validity of their assessments, to ensure that tests are free from disqualifying candidates based on anything but the skills that are necessary for the job at hand.




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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸