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Applicant Assessments: Testing The Waters

(Editor’s Note: We invite you to discuss candidate screening techniques in more detail with the entire TalentCulture community, this week at #TChat Events on Wednesday, February 19th. For details, see the #TChat Preview post: Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide?)

Can you tell from a resume if an applicant has the skills needed to succeed in a job? How do you know if someone is really the right fit for your company?

If you’re unsure, perhaps pre-employment tests should be part of your evaluation process. Knowledge is power — and assessments can be a powerful addition to any hiring toolkit.

Evaluating Job Candidates: A Smart Strategy

Increasingly, organizations are relying on screening tests to improve their hiring and workforce development decisions. In fact, in a recent survey by Aberdeen Group, 49% of companies said they have an assessment strategy in place — up from only 40% in 2011.

Infographic - How to select assessments for employee screening

See Details: How To Choose Job Candidate Testing Tools

Melissa Hulsey, president and CEO of Ashton Staffing, explains that, with the correct type of test, employers can evaluate candidates effectively across multiple dimensions, including job skills, professional  knowledge and cultural fit. It’s even possible to make behavioral predictions and gain insight into core values.

“Properly constructed assessments look below the surface information presented by applicants to systematically predict which one will be the best hire for a position,” explains Dr. Charles Hanler, president of Rocket-Hire, a consultancy that helps improve organizational hiring practices. He compares the resume review and interview process to the tip of an iceberg. The bulk of an iceberg is what remains below the surface — what you can’t see and touch.

Choosing Applicant Assessments

It’s essential to choose the right type of assessment for your goals. Tests can produce a mind-numbing array of candidate metrics — personality, cognitive abilities, professional knowledge, work skills, physical and motor abilities, emotional intelligence, language proficiency, drug use and even values like integrity. Yet, when evaluations are properly applied, employers can more quickly and confidently identify candidates who are best qualified for open positions and most likely to succeed in the organization.

As the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology explains, there are pros and cons to each of the many types of employment assessments. But before deciding how you’ll test candidates, it’s important to determine what kind of information matters most to you. Tests vary according to their mode of administration (web-based tools vs. paper and pencil), content focus (interpersonal skills, mathematical ability), level of standardization or structure, costs, administrative ease, and other factors.

Although there can be significant benefits from using tests in the employee selection process, there are also multiple issues to consider. In particular:

• Validity  Does the test actually measure the characteristic it is designed to measure? For example, does it actually predict future job performance or success?

• Reliability How consistently does a test measure the target characteristic? If an assessment tool isn’t highly reliable, it will be of little value in predicting a candidate’s future job performance. As with validity, a test’s reliability should be verified before it is administered.

• Legality Because employment tests are periodically challenged in court, employers must make sure assessments do not violate federal, state, or local EEO laws, including Title VII.

TYPES OF CANDIDATE TESTS

Assessment Centers Often used to assess interpersonal skills, communication skills, planning/organizing and analytical skills. Typically involves exercises that reflect job content and types of problems faced on the job.
Biographical Data Uses questions about education, training, work experience and interests to predict success on the job. 
Cognitive Ability Tests Assesses aptitude or potential to solve job-related problems by focusing on mental abilities such as verbal or mathematical reasoning, or perceptual abilities like speed in recognizing letters of the alphabet.  
Integrity Tests Assesses attitudes and experiences related to honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and pro-social behavior. 
Interviews The most common type of employment test. Typically assesses interpersonal skills, communication skills and teamwork skills, and can be used to assess job knowledge.
Job Knowledge Tests Typically uses multiple choice questions or essays to evaluate technical or professional expertise and knowledge required on the job.
Personality Tests Measures traits related to behavior at work, interpersonal interactions, and satisfaction with different aspects of work. 
Physical Ability Tests Uses tasks or exercises that determine ability to perform. Measures physical attributes and capabilities, such as strength, balance and speed.
Work Samples and Simulations Measures specific job skills or job knowledge, but can also assess general skills such as organizational, analytic and interpersonal skills.

How Do You Evaluate Job Applicants?

Do you use pre-employment tests to screen applicants before they’re hired? Has this been effective for your organization? How does this help or hinder your company’s candidate experience? Share your experience in the comment area.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

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