What Do Applicant Assessments Tell Us, Anyway?

You’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve lived it. Maybe you had to implement it, and you may even have taken it. The dreaded pre-employment assessment. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the more common types in the market are Wonderlic, Myers-Briggs, and Gallup. Sure, they are all legal, and legally defensible in court, and are praised by a vast amount of executives far and wide. But what do they really tell you?

Choices, Choices.

The types of information sought on these assessments can vary widely – from personality types, to sales acumen, to analytical skills. But in the end, how much does it really tell you about the employee you are about to hire. There are several areas to consider when looking at potentially using a pre-employment assessment.

1. What are you looking for?
If you are seeking people who have strong analytical skills, then an employment assessment that measures this might be a way to go. But without having to over-customize a solution, can you effectively get what you need? In most cases, a cookie-cutter assessment may seem like a one-size fits all, but it’s leaving out critical components about who is actually taking the assessment. A Director of Product Management may score vastly different from a Statistical Data Analyst, depending on how much of their day-to-day is spent in a purely analytical world. And, are you having your sales reps take the same assessment as these purely analytical candidates?

2. What kind of metrics are you assessing to validate the impact of these assessments on your hiring process?
Assessment without analysis is just testing. You have to look at your core metrics on this. If the point of testing is the reduce turnover in key critical roles, and to make sure that people in these roles are highly promotable, then you need to look at the data. Having detailed components about turnover, promotion rates, and performance reviews is critical in seeing how valuable this assessment toll has proven. If you can’t put a finger on seeing where the value was added (i.e. a 15% reduction in turnover in the inside sales group), then you just have a bunch of test scores. Considering the pricing on many of these products, that’s an awful lot of money spent on anecdotal data. Considering that HR is already a department that most companies consider overhead, we have to spend wisely.

3. Do executives put more weight in the assessment more than the people interviewing and selecting the candidate?
If you have C-Level people weighting the outcome of the assessment ahead of the other critical stages of the interview process (Resume, experience, interview & interview feedback, references, and background checks), then something is wrong. You’ll almost inevitably lose proven and potential “A” players because they refuse to be judged from an assessment, and/or you let them get away because some test score said they weren’t up to snuff. “A” players don’t have to tolerate the cynicism that comes with being judged on test scores alone.

I’ve worked in companies where if the test score was not a certain number, there was no hire – end of story. I think about all the people in the world who are great at writing the 30 page paper, but who are not good testers. Conversely, how many people can ace tests, but not come up with core analytical takeaways from a project? It’s a balance, and as I said above, needs to be looked at as PART of the process, not as the litmus for the WHOLE process.

4. Is the assessment linked to your organizations key indicators of success and performance?
If it is, then you can truly use this as a potential indicator for future success. Dr. Charles Handler really does some nice work in presenting views in this arena. If you’re seriously considering implementing something, his research and articles might be a good spot to start. He has a great deck on Slideshare, that might be worth reviewing.

Assessment for the sake of saying “well, we tested them, and they did well/poor” is a waste of valuable interviewer and recruiter time. I’m not 100% in favor on pre-employment assessments, nor am I 100% against. As with most people, I’m somewhere in the middle.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.


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2 Comments on “What Do Applicant Assessments Tell Us, Anyway?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New Post at RecruitingIn3D : Pre-Employment Assessments? What do they Really tell us? -- Topsy.com

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