The mobile internet is continuing to grow in importance. Mobile is the new online, or so seems the motto. According to recent studies, most people in the western world already use two to three devices to be connected online. Thanks to technical innovations, the boundaries between “mobile” and “stationary” Internet are becoming increasingly blurred.
Despite its relative technology aversion, HR is also going more and more mobile as more and more candidates are going mobile as well. Applicants can apply via apps, benefit from a mobile optimized job search platform and can even do mobile assessments when applying for a job. And this is only the beginning.
But beware: A new study shows that test results from desktop vs. mobile devices are not necessarily comparable. HR managers should be aware of this if they wish to select their candidates according to skills.
The first major study in this field has been conducted in the United States and was published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Selection and Assessment. A research team led by Winfred Arthur Jr. of the University Texas A & M University (traditionally one of the strongholds in terms of aptitude testing) analyzed data taken form not less than 3.5 million online assessments and came to the following conclusions:
- Just below 2% of all the assessments have been carried out via mobile devices representing a very small proportion of the total conducted.
- The test results of personality assessments stay the same almost no matter whether using a mobile device or PC. If you are using a smartphone, however, the only thing which takes you some time is to conduct the test as the display is quite small. The same goes for situational and biographical tests.
- When it comes to cognitive performance tests, there are indeed differences between mobile and stationary devices. People who carried out such tests with a mobile device performed worse on average than those who carried the tests out on a desktop or laptop.
What are the reasons for the bad scores in performance tests?
There is no surprise as to why participants perform worse on cognitive tests with mobile:
1// Cognitive tests measure people’s maximum performance. They are supposed to master as many tasks as possible in a limited time. Small displays on smartphones present an automatic disadvantage — people simply require more time to read the text on the their mobile’s screen and select the correct answer option.
2// Distraction: A big advantage of the mobile Internet is immediate access to the internet at any place at any time. Of course, this also presents a greater disposition to distraction, which has a negative effect on concentration and, thus, test performance on cognitive tests.
Conclusion and Tips
As a practitioner and candidate you should consider the following for your mobile recruiting:
- Personality assessments and other tests that do not measure performance in a limited time can easily be adapted to mobile devices. Don’t worry about offering those mobile-optimised tests to your candidates. However, you need to make sure that the tests are user-friendly.
- But pay attention to cognitive testing for mobile devices:
Recruiters: Test results are not comparable between smartphones and desktop. You should tell your candidates that they risk a worse outcome when using their smartphone.
Candidates: Small display size and any distraction can significantly worsen test results. Thus, try to conduct employment tests when you are in a quiet area, have a sufficiently large display to use (at least tablet size) and a suitable time of day (morning).
What about conducting video interviews on mobile devices?
For recruiters, there is no problem with evaluating a candidate’s performance via their mobile device. However, if you are a candidate and doing your video interview using your smartphone, there will be difficulty experience with small display size as well as from distractions around you. In this case, use a device that provides a solid surface to avoid quality issues and a device that is less prone to providing distractions.
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Arthur, W. Jr., Doverspike, D., Muñoz, G. J., Taylor, J. E., & Alison, A. E. (2014). The use of mobile devices in high-stakes remotely delivered assessments and testing. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 22, 113 – 123.
Morelli, N. A., Mahan, R. P., & Illingworth, A. J. (2014). Establishing the measurement equivalence of online selection assessments delivered on mobile versus nonmobile devices. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 22, 124 – 138.