How to Pick the Right Assessment

Author: Dr. Charles Handler | Source: HCI | Published: June 4, 2010

I just read a recent blog post about pre-employment assessment on a site called “rent a smart"

As a champion of pre-employment assessment I am always happy when I see that someone else out there cares about my little corner of the world.  The author of this blog, one “Mr. Smart Guy”, does a pretty good job of summarizing some basic stuff about pre-employment assessments.  While a blog posting is really not a suitable venue for much more then a high level treatment of most topics, oversimplification can lead to a false sense of confidence when it comes to technically complex subject matter such as assessment.

For instance, the author states….

“To add an assessment, you simply need to identify an assessment that will meet your organizations needs.”

While this is definitely a true statement, I feel that it vastly oversimplifies the matter.  The purpose of me calling this out is not to slam the author, but rather to highlight the fact that the correct use of assessments is simply not that easy.  Both the ROI to be realized from an assessment and the legal defensibility of said assessment depend on the precision and accuracy with which the content of the test is matched with various aspects of the job and organization in which the job takes place.  Ideally this matching should be the result of a formalized process which is based on the collection and evaluation of very specific information by experts.

Given that the real world does not always provide the ability to do things as correctly as possible, I would like to amend the author’s statement to say:

To add an assessment, you simply need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Determine the business outcomes you hope to realize by using the assessment.
  2. Identify the key knowledges, skills, abilities, competencies, and other factors that define performance for the job or jobs in question and lead to the business outcomes you desire.
  3. Do the research required to identify vendors that offer validated assessments for the job(s) in question and that provide adequate coverage of the traits required for effective job performance.
  4. Put the vendors on the spot to provide adequate documentation and evidence to support the fact that their assessments will be effective for your needs.
  5. Have members of your organization take the assessments offered by the vendors under consideration and have hiring managers and recruiters review the resulting reports.  Note any concerns these folks have about candidate friendliness and usability.
  6. Contact existing customers of the vendors being considered to find out how they feel about the vendor’s products and services.
  7. If at all possible, involve a testing expert or I/O Psychologist in the above process.

Of course one can be much more rigorous when choosing an assessment but if you don’t have the resources, following the above steps will greatly increase the possibility of ensuring that you reap the benefits of pre-employment assessments while minimizing risk.

Dr. Charles Handler is the president and founder of Throughout his career he has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. He has taken what he learned developing recruiting and selection solutions for a wide variety of organizations and combined it with his love of technology to help clients develop new models for employee selection. His philosophy focuses on combining sound science with innovation and practicality to create online hiring strategies that provide ROI and demonstrate the value of human capital. Charles has a Master's and Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology.

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