BPI Blog

Online assessments vs. traditional assessments

So how do traditional assessments stack up to online assessments?

Whether you’re a first-time job hunter or a professional looking for better opportunities, you’re probably daunted by the prospect of an assessment (or assessment center). Overall, assessments can take many forms and broadly we can distinguish between conventional (or traditional) and online (or digital / e-assessments).

So what is the difference between them?

  • Conventional (or traditional) assessments can include manual pre-screening, pen-and-paper tests, telephonic rounds and face-to-face interview. It can also include a simulations with an actor and the assessment psychologist present, taking notes. All the information is gathered and summarized in an assessment report. The upside is that it’s rigorous, it has been around, is still widely used and has a personal approach. The downside is that it is more expensive and prone to hassle.
  • Online assessments (sometimes called digital- or e-assessments) have revolutionized this process. The individual logs into the online assessment portal and goes through phases of online testing such as personality and capacity testing. It can also include assessment games or simulations. The report is automatically generated and immediately sent out. The upside is that it is data-driven, fast, relatively reliable and often cheaper. The downside is that people can feel pressed into a mold that doesn’t fit them. They can feel disenfranchised that they couldn’t show their true character or skills.

Why companies go online: The adoption of online assessments is rising because it makes human resource decision making very quantifiable. As per Talent Assessment Study, the use of online assessments grew by 114% in Recruitment and 116% in Learning and Development from 2016-2017. (source: TAS, 2018).

So what is missing: The ‘online-size-fits-all‘ approach doesn’t work well with intricate need-to-have skillset jobs and especially not for senior positions. It is a challenge to digitally evaluate interpersonal skills such as teamwork and how individuals really connect to other people. It’s not possible to deviate from the process and take a minute to ask about specific work examples or ask what really motivates someone.

The solution is integration: an assessment that is both high-tech and highly personal. Combining the full accuracy of online testing and the personal approach of a psychologist during an interview and/or simulation. The result of course is a personalized assessment report that actually reflects who someone is. And equally important scores higher on candidate and employee satisfaction.

The best of both worlds, which coincidentally is what we offer here at BPI.


Wouter van Kempen writes about assessment, coaching and personal development. He is the founder and managing director of BPI (Business Psychology International) specialized in international assessment and coaching. BPI has representatives in over 14 European countries. You can reach us here 

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Pricing is contingent on your request, location and cost of our in-house psychologists or assessment partners.

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