Here at MHS, we have a lot of people talking about building, integrating, and using APIs. I have been able to use APIs to make testing more automated in my own role and provide my test-takers with a more seamless process when they need to take multiple tests. Whenever I talk to someone new about how I’m using these APIs, almost everyone asks me the same question: “What’s an API?!”.
It’s a great question, and anyone who is not a programmer (myself included) likely hasn’t had much exposure to what an API is, or how they can use one. An API is an Application Programming Interface. Basically, it’s a way for different applications to communicate and use each other’s services and integrate with each other. At MHS, our APIs are a way to integrate our assessments into our client’s systems and processes.
Imagine your organization is going through a big change, like a restructure or operating under a new business model. You want to support your employees through the change and decide to create a change resource center on your company’s internal system. To launch your new resource center, you want everyone to take the Change Style Indicator (CSI®) and provide them with a report. Rather than having to use MHS’ Talent Assessment Portal (TAP) to invite employees to take the CSI and generate their reports, you could use an API to bring the CSI into your own platform (whether it is your company’s own unique platform or a larger CRM platform. The API would allow you to work through the platform you’re familiar with to invite employees to take the assessment. You would also be able to have your employees’ reports appear directly in your platform. Your employees would be able to have their entire testing experience exist through this platform instead of having to leave your company’s software ecosystem or process.
If you only remember one thing about APIs, let it be integration. They are the key to allowing MHS’ systems to talk to yours and allowing you to do all your work in one place. MHS can integrate our test APIs into existing platforms, or into your own custom-built platform.
This example might not be as applicable to your organization, but it’s the real story of how I was able to use MHS' APIs without any programming experience or prior knowledge. When we conduct the psych evaluations on candidates for reality TV shows (you can read more about that topic in my blog post here), we might give them over 7 tests to take at once. Sometimes we’re in the room with them while they take the tests, and sometimes we give them remote support. We used to prepare 7 links in an email for each person to click through and take the tests, but more often than not, I would need to reach out to them because one of the tests were missed and they needed to go back. Once I did have everyone’s assessments completed, I would need to go to each test platform individually and download each of the reports and scored data-sets. This all added up. Going to 7 different places to get all the information I had collected for each person took a long time, and we needed to make a change.
Now, I have all of the questions for the 7 different tests built on my own platform, and they all come one after another when a candidate clicks on one link. Once they’re done, I go to one place to generate all 7 reports for each person and get the 7 scored data-sets all rolled into one excel file. What used to take me over 20 minutes per candidate now takes me 2, and I spend less time following up with candidates to complete tests that they have missed.
Do you have an API integration for your workflow? I'd love to hear from you in the comments and how introducing an API has changed the way you work.