Pre-employment cognitive, skills and personality assessments can be valuable additions to your arsenal of hiring tools. Not only do they assist you in finding the most appropriate candidate, but they also help you avoid the biases inherent in in-person interviewing, and better predict on-the-job success and whether a person will assimilate well into your organization. However, there are a few “rules of the road” you’ll want to follow as you navigate this territory.
First, assessments should be used as directed and in their entirety. You should also make sure you use them consistently rather than selectively, meaning that all candidates who apply for the same job take the same test.
Second, pre-employment tests are subject to anti-discrimination regulations, and the federal agencies responsible for overseeing these regulations are increasingly interested in examining skills and personality assessments.
In order to be legally defensible, assessments must be designed for the hiring process, and all questions contained within them must have predictive validity, which means that they must accurately measure the traits they seek to measure and accurately predict behavior in the position in question.
The test vendor should also conduct either a validity study specific to your organization to justify the test’s use in this organization and for these specific jobs, or a transportability study to show that the jobs in question are sufficiently similar to jobs that have been included in other validity studies.
With respect to developing valid assessments, David Hyatt, an organizational consultant with the Center for Creative Leadership, suggests these tips:
For questions or concerns on test validity, you can also check out The U.S. Department of Labor’s Uniform Guide on Employee Selection Procedures.
If you’re thinking of rolling out pre-employment cognitive, skills and personality testing, you shouldn’t attempt to go it alone. Talk to other human resources or hiring managers in other companies, or get advice from a third-party company or consulting psychologist specializing in these types of tests. While outsourcing may require a significant upfront investment and a consulting psychologist can cost to $2000 per candidate, experts suggest that assessments are an aspect of hiring that you should either do well or not at all. If you take shortcuts, you could end up worse off than when you started.