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Practical Hiring Lessons from I/O Psychology

October 1, 2013

Validity and reliability are two very common, important words in the field of I/O (Industrial Organizational) Psychology. When it comes to choosing your hiring assessment, it’s important to truly understand how both of these components contribute to creating a sound assessment that benefits your team’s hiring needs. 

In order to better explain validity and reliability, I think an analogy is useful. In this case, let’s compare using assessments to playing a game of darts. When playing a game of darts, your ideal goal is to hit the bullseye as many times as possible or, in the case of hiring, to land your ideal hire – the person that are you are hoping will fill your open position.179576991

The first key piece to any assessment is validity. In the dartboard scenario, validity is demonstrated by an ability to hit the bullseye accurately on the dartboard. The higher the validity coefficient, or the coefficient that is tied to every single one of our assessments, the greater the likelihood is that you’re going to hit that bullseye  and hire the best people for the specific positions.

Reliability is how many times you can hit the same mark on the dart board in a row.  In other words, it’s how consistent you are in your dart throwing.   Reliability is important when it comes to assessments, as you want a valid assessment that is consistent over time. You may see some assessments that just don’t measure up in terms of reliability. For example, a candidate could take the assessment the first time and receive a particular score and then take the same assessment at a different point in time, maybe three weeks later, and score something entirely different.  Unless the candidate experienced a meaningful change in the underlying traits measured in the assessment over those points in time, you would expect the scores to be the same. When you have a really, really good assessment, one that is both valid and reliable, it’s not going to matter whether the candidate has to take the same assessment at a different point in time. The scores from that assessment should still stack up and be the same.

Another important point related to validity and reliability is that an assessment must have good reliability in order to achieve high levels of validity.  If you’re assessment isn’t measuring traits consistently, then it’s not going to be accurate in predicting outcomes over time and across candidates either.

When using hiring assessments, validity and reliability are very important and are directly tied to the successes you will see in your hiring process. A quality hiring assessment will help you to hit the bullseye of your dartboard time and time again – and help you hire the right people for your open positions.



all employee assessment alike

Adam Hilliard