Your Guide to Tests and Assessments

There are assessments and then there are tests.  Assessments gauge a set of behaviors or tendencies.  For example, a personality profile or an emotional intelligence survey measures participants' responses according to who they are as a person.  There are technically no right or wrong answers, just how the questions fit you and your life.  Tests can measure concepts like critical thinking, numerical reasoning, or ability to manage.  Answer provided by the participant are either correct or incorrect.

Employers can use pre-employment skill measurements to gain an objective view of skills versus relying strictly on information received in an interview.  Pre-employment skill measurements can provide a legal rationale in making hiring decisions.  They can also be used for development purposes to determine gaps in knowledge.  Assessments can be used for promotions to measure the level of skill and knowledge or for coaching, when individuals need guidance and preparation in specific areas to do their jobs more effectively.

There are many tests and assessments to choose from but only those that are third-party validated can predict an individual's success in the work place.  What does this mean?  The developer of the assessment invested extra time and money for a third party to conduct further research in order to authenticate that positive scores on the test will predict success in the workplace.  Ensure the tests and assessment you choose are third party validated to predict success and results are reviewed and interpreted by an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.

Using assessments that are “off the shelf” so to speak, which anyone can become certified to administer, are generally not validated to predict success in the workplace.  Organizations use these types of assessments because they are easily accessible and often those reviewing the assessments generally become comfortable interpreting the results.

Employee's performance affects the productivity and ultimately the profitability of a business.  Hiring or promoting individuals who are ineffective and do not possess the correct skills for a job cost time, money and potential new business.  Strategically chosen and administered assessments provide employers with a way of evaluating if a candidate has the correct skills for the job and if the person will be successful.  Tests can provide detailed feedback to the candidate which can be used for developmental purposes.  Results can also be used for an individual’s new manager to help coach and mentor them.

Reasons for using assessments and skill tests include savings in the decision making process.  Tests can objectively scale down the pool of candidates.  Using tests can help you spend less time with people whose skills, characteristics and abilities are not in alignment with the requirements of the position.  You will obtain measurements on information you cannot obtain through the interview process.  The costs of making a wrong hiring decision are high.  Assessments can measure traits which are developed over a long period of time or are difficult to develop or change, for example, personality traits or in-depth knowledge in a particular profession.  Using standardized tools like assessments will ensure everyone is treated equally.  The same information is gathered from all.  Organizations using assessments saw more than 60% greater improvement in quality of hire over those not using them. (Source: 2012 Talent Shortage Survey Research Results/ManpowerGroup (p. 10, 15)

Making sound hiring and promotional decisions today is more important than ever.  In today’s competitive environment, people have their choice of employers. You want the best and brightest in your organization.  Be an organization who looks for the finest people while using objective measures like third party validated assessments to provide you with the best information to help make better hiring decisions.

Lauri Flanagan
VP Talent Management and Business Solutions
Management Resource Group, Ltd.