Mobile On-demand Assessment Has a Job to Do
Pre-employment testing and assessment, when done right, add tremendous value in the hiring process. Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychologists have collected more than enough aggregate data to show that our methods are far more predictive and useful than other methods like the unstructured interview. Yet every company still leverages the interview and not every company leverages testing and assessment to support hiring decisions. As noted in previous blogs it is critical to know what test is being used, why it is being used and how the results are being used in order to attain maximum value.
I would like to submit that pre-employment testing and assessment is not a perfect science, but it is a science. It is also a science that has far better statistical support showing that companies using good pre-employment tests have better odds of hiring quality people who ramp faster, produce more and have longer tenure. Little has changed concerning this fact, but the candidate experience and how assessments are being delivered to the candidate are changing at a rapid pace.
On-demand mobile technology is now becoming the rule, rather than the exception. In fact HP Software recently noted that more users will connect to the internet in 2014 via mobile device than they will their PC or laptop. And increased use of mobile testing platforms has reenergized the discussion about assessment delivery methods, proctored vs. unproctored testing and candidate cheating behavior. Just a few months ago I attended a professional conference where passionate I/O Psychologists discussed these topics. There was an authoritative and experienced panel of experts who were dogmatic in their viewpoints about the fact that mobile technology could spawn a massive culture of cheating behaviors in pre-employment testing. One expert went so far as to advocate that anyone taking a pre-employment test or assessment should be required to complete the task in a Faraday cage - essentially a room that is guarded on all walls, ceiling and floor by channeled electricity thereby preventing anyone from using a mobile device to complete an online assessment and secure the testing environment so no “cheating” signals could get in or out. A colleague and I exchanged dumbfounded looks from across the room as if to say “is this a joke?”
This is not an academic exercise. We cannot build enough Faraday cages to absorb the sheer volumes of applicants vying for a single retail clerk position, nor can we afford to damage our brands (or our clients’ brands) by being so very difficult, nor can we ignore the fact that this does not view candidates as customers, but prisoners. I had to ask the question – just how big a problem is cheating in pre-employment testing that would lead someone to make such a statement? There was a visible discomfort among the panel, all of whom began shifting in their seats. One brave soul finally offered up that the data estimates that nearly 2% of candidates demonstrated cheating behaviors.
Cheating on pre-employment testing has been a concern among those of us in the talent management and talent acquisition space for some time. We I/O Psychologists do need to recognize the potential for this issue and do our part to help reduce the potential for cheating – systems are catching up to the point of using a device’s own camera to ensure that the person taking the test is who they claim to be with facial recognition technology. But we also need to be responsible about it and not cry that “the sky is falling,” just yet. When one considers that most every company that uses a form of pre-employment test also uses more than that single data point to start the decision making process…a 2% issue becomes far less of an issue very quickly. For the record, I am not saying that cheating behaviors among mobile test users in a non-issue, but if we are investing energy into areas of concern I have seen research estimating that resume fraud could be as high as 70%-80%! And let’s not forget the good old interview - no one embellishes or stretches the truth there, do they? My four core thoughts on this are below.
#1 - mobile device usage is here to stay. It will not stop. It will not slow down. It will, however, grow exponentially.
#2 - testing is here to stay. In whatever shape, form or fashion, it will continue. No company has the bandwidth to interview every candidate in depth. Using good, quality tests and assessments will make talent acquisition far more scalable and measurable.
#3 - mobile testing is inevitable. There will be exceptions where mobile is not useful or applicable, of course, but the norm continues to migrate toward “right here, right now, what’s in for me?” This is on the part of both candidate and hiring authority, by the way. Talent acquisition wants to test people NOW. Candidates want to know where they stand NOW. Hiring managers want to fill their role NOW.
#4 - I/O Psychologists must change with the realities of the world if our science is to remain valuable for the consumer. The answer is not rigidity and academic laboratory attitude, which often have poor impacts and damage our attempts to build brand enthusiasm among people we are evaluating for employment. We should all have the following two things in mind: (a) how can I hire the best person in the least amount of time and with the least amount of hassle and (b) if I do not hire the person, how do we make sure they still respect our brand and have as positive an experience as possible, since we might be able to recycle them or gain referrals from them at a later date.
James H. Killian, Ph.D. is Vice President | Assessment Sales with Findly Talent, LLC, headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Findly helps organizations leverage social and mobile recruiting with seamless candidate relationship management, professional services, testing and assessment.