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How to Leverage an Assessment to Fit Your Needs

March 9, 2017


So you find yourself interested in assessments but have no idea how to use them for your unique business needs? This might seem daunting as there are, in fact, many ways to leverage an assessment to fit your needs.  However, understanding the different methods will equip you with the knowledge to add effective tools to your selection and development processes. In fact, the types of assessments and the manner in which they're used vary greatly. Assessments can be used in multiple ways to achieve results, and knowing these options can help HR professionals leverage the assessments in the way that will be most beneficial to their unique hiring procedures.

There are two basic ways to use assessments: for SELECTION and for DEVELOPMENT.

For Selection:  Pass/Fail or Info-Only

A common method to use a pre-hire assessment is through interpreting the results as pass/fail:

  • This means that the assessment designed to measure job relevant competencies, will act as a filter for applicants based on the assessment results. The pass/fail method of assessment utilization can be highly valuable when used correctly.

  • A pre-hire assessment should measure critical, job relevant competencies that determine successful performance on the job. This often involves some level of job analysis to determine the appropriate competencies to measure, as well as the appropriate scoring profile for the assessment.

  • Candidates who pass the assessment would continue in the hiring process, and those who fail would be removed from consideration. The pass/fail method acts as a barrier, eliminating those who fail to meet the standard set in place from consideration.

In the information-only approach:

  • An applicant's score on the assessment is used as a data point in the hiring process and not as a barrier to continue in the hiring process. In other words, the performance on the assessment tool acts as a piece of the puzzle for the hiring manager in making a hiring decision.

  • This information helps the hiring manager understand more about the candidate's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Depending on the other steps in the hiring process, you may want to integrate the scores on the assessment with data gathered in the other steps.

  • An info-only approach may be more appropriate in some hiring processes in which you have fewer applicants for consideration, and thus want to put all applicants through multiple stages of the process before integrating the data and making decisions.

For Development

Some assessments aren't even used to make selection decisions at all, and are used instead for development purposes. Both the pass/fail and info-only approaches fall under the selection category, as they are used to inform whether or not an individual is hired. Development, on the other hand, refers to the use of an assessment or tool to display how an incumbent - not an applicant - measures on job-related competencies with the goal of helping them grow professionally. Results of development-oriented assessments display an employee's strengths and weaknesses, and often include strategies for improvement. If you're looking to support training and development initiatives for your employees, an assessment geared specifically towards development would be very useful.

Knowing the different types of measurements and assessments can help inform decisions when it comes down to selecting a successful candidate and developing the current employees. Understanding a few basic concepts about assessments can add tremendous value to your selection and development needs.

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Rachel Reid Rachel Reid is a Consulting Associate at PSI. She works with clients in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare helping to implement assessments into the hiring process. Rachel’s areas of knowledge include interviewing, human resource development, and developing training materials.