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The Importance of Setting Expectations for New Pre-Hire Assessments

July 7, 2016

selection-interview.jpgWhenever organizations begin using a new pre-hire assessment tool, the chances are very high that there will be some stakeholders who will be resistant to the new process. For example, a hiring manager may question the results for a particular candidate who failed despite being “one of the best” candidates they’ve seen. Or the interview team may start questioning the test after a candidate who passed the assessment interviewed very poorly.

This resistance is very often rooted in some underlying misconceptions regarding the expected outcomes of using the assessment. The following are a few such misconceptions that are fairly common among staffing teams:

  • 100% of new hires who passed the assessment will be successful on the job

  • An assessment will completely eliminate turnover

  • Assessment results will always be aligned with all other data gathered in the staffing process

  • Assessments will drastically shorten the staffing process

  • An assessment will identify with 100% accuracy each candidate’s strengths and development needs

  • The assessment results for one candidate are indicative of how accurate and effective the tool is at generally identifying the best job candidates

When reading this list of common misconceptions, most stakeholders would likely deny that they are guilty of any of them. However, when in the middle of filling a job vacancy, a single unexpected assessment result can easily result in making erroneous judgments about the tool based on one or more of the items on the list above. It happens much more often than many stakeholders realize.

So what can be done about this? One of the best strategies for preventing this is to communicate with stakeholders about what the expected outcomes are, such as the following:

  • Assessments will significantly increase the number of successful hires over time, but will not eliminate poor hires altogether

  • An assessment will significantly reduce certain types of turnover. For example, involuntary turnover due to being a poor fit with the company. It will not completely eliminate turnover or reduce other types of turnover such as voluntary turnover due to finding better pay for the same job from a competitor

  • You can expect assessment results to be aligned with other similar data gathered in the staffing process most of the time. However, lack of alignment is not uncommon and is often worth discussing among staffing team members as part of the evaluation process

  • Assessments should result in a more efficient staffing process, meaning more poor candidates will be screened out earlier in the process. However, the administration process may still add time to the process despite making it more efficient.

  • Assessments will be a more accurate and objective measure of the candidate’s job-related skills than what is currently in place; however, no assessment is 100% accurate, and the assessment results should be considered together with other data gathered during the process

  • Only a validation study with a large sample size (e.g., 100 or more) can accurately evaluate how effective an assessment is at predicting job performance. The results of one, or even a handful of candidates should not be used to judge the effectiveness of an assessment.

As with any organizational change, effective communication is critical to the success when implementing a new assessment program. Too often, the above issues are not discussed with stakeholders prior to launching a new assessment tool, and this significantly increases the chances of resistance to the new program. However, such resistance becomes much more preventable with a more proactive approach to addressing the above misconceptions as part of the communication process for new assessment implementations.

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John Fernandez, Ph.D. John Fernandez, Ph.D. was a Senior Consultant at PSI and lead the implementation of assessment programs for both selection and development. John has extensive experience working as an internal expert within HR for large companies to deliver large scale, global assessment solutions. John’s areas of expertise include project management, job analysis, assessment design & validation, and presentation of assessment results to sponsors.