Go beyond recruitment buzzwords with our skills-based hiring glossary

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Traditional, resume-based hiring marginalizes diverse candidates and makes them vulnerable to unconscious bias. By using scientifically validated skills tests, companies can make sound decisions about who to interview and hire using data that isn’t open to bias. This is the premise of skills-based hiring.

Skills-based hiring is more than a buzzword: it's a hiring trend that's here to stay. In that spirit, here's a glossary of hiring terms for recruiters that goes beyond recruitment buzzwords.

Note: the definitions in this glossary demonstrate how we understand the terms at TestGorilla, in relation to skills-based hiring. They might be used differently in other organizations and contexts.

What are recruitment buzzwords?

Buzzword: (n). A word or a phrase that is trendy in a specific time or context. Buzzwords are often used superficially, in order to impress people. Usage of buzzwords doesn't typically last, they are just fashionable for a while.

Recruitment buzzwords are trending recruitment terms that might be relevant now but probably won't be for very long. Some good examples of recruitment buzzwords are 'quiet quitting', 'loud quitting', and 'rage quitting'.

Why is skills-based hiring not a buzzword?

Buzzwords are characterized by transience. They are quickly pushed into and then out of relevance by media and marketplace trends.

Skills-based hiring isn't a recruitment buzzword because it's not going to become irrelevant any time soon. It's a hiring trend that's well and truly here to stay. How do we know this? Data from our 2023 State of Skills-Based Hiring report tells us that:

  • 73% of employers have already adopted skills-based hiring

  • Over 70% of employers consider skills-based hiring to be a more effective hiring tool than resumes

  • 60% of employers expect their budget for skills-based hiring to increase over the next 12 months

  • 58% of employers say they will use skills-based hiring more than they did in the last 12 months

  • 42% of employees want to see the adoption of skills-based hiring methods increase in the next 12 months

An A-Z glossary of terms for skills-based hiring

Below you'll find a comprehensive glossary to help you understand some of the terminology around skills-based hiring. Since it is also a science-backed hiring process, you can head to our science glossary for definitions of the more scientific terms.


Special adjustments that are made for a person or group with different needs than most, e.g. providing an interpreter when interviewing a deaf candidate.

Application process

The process of applying for a job. Starts with a job application submission and covers everything that is required up until the point of accepting or rejecting a candidate.


Assessing something in order to make a judgment. A TestGorilla assessment is the totality of 2 to 5 tests plus any custom questions chosen by a recruiter to test their candidates’ suitability for a job role.

Benchmark/scoring method

A tool that recruiters can use to see how their candidates scored on a TestGorilla test compared to other candidates who have taken the same test for different recruiters. One example of a scoring method is to use the percentage of correct answers.

TestGorilla scoring method

Candidate pipeline

A group or database of partially vetted prospective candidates that exists prior to a job opening, accompanied by a systematic process to take them from sourced to hired. Also known as a talent or recruitment pipeline.

Cognitive ability

General mental capabilities that involve planning, problem-solving, reasoning, and thinking abstractly to process and manipulate information and complete simple and complex tasks.

Culture add

Refers to the likelihood that a candidate will bring different perspectives and attitudes to a company that contributes positively to its existing culture.

What is culture add definition graphic

Custom questions

Questions specific to a company and/or job role designed by employers. With TestGorilla, these can be in multiple choice, essay, video, file upload, or code format.


The practice of including people from a range of groups with different shared characteristics, such as age, class, disability, gender, race, and sexuality.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I)

Policies, particularly in the workplace, that encourage the representation and participation of groups with different shared characteristics, experiences, and abilities. 

Employment law

A set of laws that regulates the relationship between employers and employees, including employees’ rights and employers’ responsibilities. For more on employment law, read our blog about skills-based hiring and legal defensibility.

Hiring bias

Discrimination that occurs (often unconsciously) during employers’ recruitment processes, on the basis of characteristics including age, class, disability, gender, race, and sexuality. Also known as recruitment bias.

What is hiring bias definition

Hiring strategy

A recruiter’s approach to choosing candidates who can best support the organization’s goals.


The practice of providing equal access to resources and opportunities for groups that might otherwise be marginalized.


An organization or society where people are selected for roles or positions of power based on their skills and abilities, rather than factors such as educational background or class.


The act of hiring someone who is not a good fit for the job or the company. Employers are reducing mis-hires with skills-based hiring.

How much has implementing skills based hiring reduced number of mishires pie chart

Personality test

A series of questions designed to identify how one perceives the world and align these perceptions with various widely accepted personality types.

Pre-employment testing

Standardized pre-employment testing is designed to aid in recruitment with the purpose of ascertaining whether a candidate has the necessary competencies needed to perform a specific job.


Having a high level of skill or expertise; for example, language proficiency.


The act of suspecting or targeting an individual on the basis of observed characteristics rather than evidence.

Qualifying questions

Questions that will determine whether a candidate meets the minimum requirements for a role.

Question bank

A collection of questions that are stored and shuffled for later, and sometimes repeated, use. Each TestGorilla test has a question bank with a minimum of 100 questions.

Recruitment strategy

A formalized plan that covers roles to hire for, processes for finding, engaging, and evaluating candidates, and onboarding new hires.


A measure of how consistently a test returns the same results given the same inputs. At TestGorilla we use reliability to measure the consistency of our tests.

Skill area

A subject area within which someone can work to achieve a level of ability, knowledge, experience, and expertise.

Skills-based hiring

The practice of hiring based on skills and performance rather than on formal qualifications such as a degree or work experience.

SOC2 compliance

An auditing procedure based on guidelines set by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It is used to assess the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of information systems. 

Structured interviews

An interview method in which the same questions are asked in a set order to all candidates. This approach ensures that responses can be compared and evaluated reliably. 

Subject matter expert

A person who can provide deep knowledge of and expertise in a specific subject.

Talent pool

A database of viable candidates who have shown interest in or demonstrated the required skills to fill open positions within your organization.


A series of questions, tasks, and problems used to evaluate a person’s skills in a particular subject area. A TestGorilla test covers one skill and usually lasts 10 minutes.

Unstructured interviews

A flexible type of interview with no fixed pattern or set of questions. Instead, the interviewer adapts their questions based on the participant’s previous answers.


The quality of being reasonable, correct, or accepted. At TestGorilla we use validity to evaluate how accurately a test measures what it is intended to measure. There are lots of different types of validity: for example, the four types of psychometric validity are content validity, construct validity, criterion validity, and face validity.

Read more about validity here.

psychometric validity

Download a free PDF of this glossary

If this glossary is useful to you, you can download a PDF version for free using this link.

Go beyond recruitment buzzwords with TestGorilla

If you're just getting started with skills-based hiring, we'd recommend reading these 10 best practices in hiring for skills. If you're not yet doing skills-based hiring but you'd like to start, book a demo with our team or sign up for a free plan to see for yourself what it's all about.

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