Five Things You Must Know Before You Use An Assessment Test

In this article I’m going to give you five best practices for using an assessment test to avoid hiring mistakes and hire more top performers for your company.

I’ve developed these best practices over the past twelve years working with clients to hire thousands of people. They are tested and proven and here they are:

Don’t Test Selectively

Make sure you test everybody at the same point in the hiring process. I recommend that you administer your hiring assessment after you have completed the first round of interviews and have narrowed the candidate list to between three and five people. Using the assessment test between the first and second interview gives you a good balance between cost and effectiveness.

Once you have decided to add an assessment test prior to the second interview (best practice), then give the assessment test to everyone before the second interview. Use the information from the results of the assessment to guide some of your questions during the second interview. This will help you identify potential problems that you have not previously been aware of.

It’s important to test everyone at the same stage of the hiring process to help reduce your natural biases and stay in compliance with EEOC recommendations. As with any part of your hiring process, be consistent and treat everyone the same.

Don’t use any assessment test as the exclusive factor in a hiring decision.

Never use assessment test results as a “cut off” where you hire someone who is above a certain score and eliminate anyone below the score. This is important because the EEOC recognizes that there is no technology that is accurate enough to use in this way.

I was called in to consult with a company that was using a hiring assessment to determine who qualified for an interview. Anyone who scored less than 90 on this test was rejected immediately and didn’t get an opportunity to interview. The first thing I did was alert them to the potential legal problems with this practice and they replaced the assessment test they were using and revised their process to not only be compliant, but to generate more accurate and usable results.

Make sure that the assessment you are using correlates to job success.

There are well over five hundred assessment test products in the marketplace and in my opinion only about ten of them generate results that are reliably useful.

Generally, the less time it takes to complete the assessment test, the less likely it is to generate enough data to actually help you with your hiring decision. Every assessment vendor says that their product is “valid”, but how validity is defined varies widely, so I recommend that you carefully investigate their claims before you make a purchase. If you would like my advice or opinion about a product or practice, I’m here to help.

Monitor results and maintain performance models.

Once you add an assessment test to your hiring process, it’s critical that you check to make sure you are getting the results that you’re expecting. At conferences, many people come up to me after I speak and say that they have been using an assessment test, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. With hundreds of ineffective products in the marketplace, it’s easy for this to happen.

Three things are important when you monitor your results: (1) make sure the test is valid (2) make sure you reliably know what will make someone successful in a job and the test results measure those characteristics, and (3) make sure that the assessment is being administered and interpreted correctly.

Train and retain everyone who uses the assessment test results

Most hiring managers don’t hire frequently enough to become proficient at hiring so a quality assessment test can be a big help if they know what the results mean and how to use the results as part of the interview process.

Many times, hiring mangers begin to use the assessment test results as the exclusive factor (a cut off) in the hiring decision. They are frustrated with the difficulty of hiring and want to use the technology to tell them whether they should hire or not hire a candidate. I’ve had more than one hiring manager say: “I’m busy, just tell me whether I should hire them or not!”

See best practice #2 for more information about this. Training and retaining your managers will make sure that the hiring assessment is being used appropriately and effectively in your organization.

Wrap Up

These five best practices (there are more) for using a hiring assessment test are a great starting point for adding a hiring assessment to your hiring process.

Let me know if you have specific questions and how I can be of help.