5 Tips for Using Assessments in Hiring

In a difficult hiring market, it is hard to think about adding another layer to your hiring practices that potentially screens people out instead of in.  As one hiring manager said to me last week, “I just need people with a pulse.”

But one reason why you may be hunting for people that are alive and not much more is because you aren’t hiring the right people to begin with, so turnover is a challenge and a cost to you in more ways than one.

If done correctly, assessments can be a valuable part of your hiring strategy.  To maximize assessments:
1. Don’t test selectively.  You need to determine which assessment(s) you are going to use and when in your process you will use them, then test all candidates that get to that step in the process.  Deciding to assess some and not others can open up a lot of problems in 1) finding value in the tool(s) 2) defending you hiring practices in the case of any legal issues.

2. If using a self-report assessment, use a normative assessment.  Normative assessments are those that are normed to a sample population. This is different than a self-report assessment that isn’t compared to a fixed standard.  

Examples of popular tests that aren’t normative are DiSC, MBTI and Strengths Finder.  These assessments, while valuable given the correct usage, aren’t designed to make hiring decisions.  They can be useful in the hiring process to consider a person’s personality/style and ask good questions in an interview, but they aren’t for screening candidates in or out because there isn’t a comparative standard to do that.

3. When you use a normative assessment, you need to create target ranges (scores) for the assessment dimensions for the positions you are hiring for.   For example, if you are hiring a customer service representative for your company and you are considering using an assessment that has the dimension of “conformity” on it.  The scale is 1-10 ranging from 1 requires structure to perform to 10 not comfortable/successful performing in a structured environment. You have a very structured script and process for how your representatives answer the phone, talk to customers, and document issues and resolutions in your system.  Therefore, you may set your target range that the person needs to score between 2-4 to be an ideal candidate for your position of a customer service representative.

All this being said, there are a variety of ways to set the targets including subjective analysis by managers, job analysis, generic industry models, and/or by comparison to your current top performers.  We recommend a combined job analysis and comparison to your top performers’ method.

4. Check for Validity & Other Important Factors.  There are a variety of types of validity and important considerations:

  • Face Validity– Does it really measure what is says it measures?  Does the conformity measure actually measure for conformity?
  • Predictive– Does it predict success on the job?  1) Is exhibiting conformity relevant to success as a customer service representative at your company? To what extent do customer service representatives need to be 1 to 10 okay or is conforming to be successful here?  Is a 6 on a scale of that too high?

This is why we recommend setting your ranges based on comparison to your top performers.

  • Reliability: Are scores consistent? Will the same person taking the test multiple times get the same score?  If I take the test today when I’m in one mood where I’m feeling rebellious because of someone trying to control me, will I get the same score on conformity when I take the test a week later and I’m at work as a customer service representative that requires conformity?
  • No Adverse Impact: The test does not discriminate against any protected class.  Will Caucasian females scoreless on my measure of conformity than Asian males on my measure of conformity as a population in a way that is statistically significant?  
  • Administrative: Is the test easy to use and administer in terms of giving the test, receiving results, and understanding them?  In this day and age, is the test mobile friendly, does it have features that accommodate for people with disabilities, etc.?  These are all things to be considered. 

5. Train hiring managers on using the assessment.  If those making hiring decisions don’t know about the test and/or understand it, they won’t use it or they will discount its value.  

Set up training to walk through details of the assessment with all hiring managers, get their input and feedback and help them use the assessment to their advantage.  Keep data on the value of the assessment and share it with hiring managers at regular intervals and set-up a time to onboard new hiring managers on your entire hiring process, including the selection instrument.

We are excited to announce that Horizon Point has launched a sister company, MatchFIT, LLC, that applied these best practices in the design of an assessment to help companies find the right talent through a work values-based approach.   In addition, the assessment will help companies diagnosis their organizational FITness in order to determine if they are a place that will attract the right kind of talent.

Mary Ila Ward

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