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Busted! 7 Myths About Employee Assessments

December 20, 2016

assessment-myths.jpgHiring assessments come in many different shapes and sizes depending on the position, the industry, and the level of the position you are hiring for within the organization. Being in the employee assessment industry, we often hear many myths and misconceptions surrounding assessments and what they can or cannot do for your company. For that reason, we’ve decided to break down some of these misconceptions and provide information to debunk them.

1) Employee assessments are too long.

Assessments range from very short screening tools to more in-depth and time-consuming assessments. The longer the assessment is, the more data you are able to gather about the candidate to paint a clearer picture of their potential and how well they will fit within the organization. We hear all of the time that candidates do not like longer assessments. However, our research findings don’t support that hypothesis.

Candidate reactions to assessments are similar across different lengths, ranging from 15 to 80 minutes. In fact, our research suggests that candidates react more favorably as test length increases until you exceed an hour where reactions take a very slight dip. This could very well be reflecting the candidates’ perception that they actually have more opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities with longer assessments.

Longer assessments also provide more data on the individual and as such, are more predictive of performance on the job. The real question you should be asking yourself is why aren’t you using a longer assessment?

2) Candidates don’t like assessments.

The way the assessment is designed and the way you gather data can have a major impact here. Specifically, when a test is face valid (which means that it appears to look and feel like the job the person is applying to) and is job-related, candidates recognize the value in the assessment.

Additionally, you can create assessments that are more interactive and contain game-like features that are more engaging than simply asking the candidate to respond to a list of questions. You can collect great data on candidates while they are having fun at the same time. Sounds like a win-win!

3) They are not worth the investment.

When properly scoped out, the road to successfully implementing a hiring assessment can be fairly time and resource intensive. However, that initial work on the front end will eventually pay dividends with a more streamlined process that brings you higher quality candidates.

The amount of time you’ll save from not pouring over applications, interviewing unqualified candidates, and onboarding candidates who quickly turn over, will be realized almost immediately. This can, in turn, save your company thousands and thousands of dollars per year.

4) They will get my company into legal trouble.

Actually, not using a structured, consistent hiring process is more likely to get you into a sticky legal situation. Unstructured interviews are the most frequently challenged selection tool, representing over half of all legal challenges. By implementing an assessment that captures data on a candidate and scores that data in a consistent manner is much more difficult to challenge, especially when the assessment is proven to be job-related and predictive of performance.

5) Assessments won’t work for MY positions.

If you take the right steps, they will! We always advocate for conducting a job analysis to better explore the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to be successful in the job of interest. These findings combined with data gathered from job content experts will ensure that we have a clear picture of what demands and expectations come with this position.

The final deliverable is a strong understanding of what a candidate will need to possess prior to joining your company. Are employees working in a warehouse with large equipment and therefore have opportunities to hurt themselves or others? Safety Orientation would definitely need to be a consideration and measured for a successful candidate. Does your call center require employees to document detailed conversations with customers? Attention to Detail may be an important competency to ensure is measured throughout the hiring process.

The moral of the story is – an assessment WILL work for your position and candidate pool from entry-level positions to executive leadership and everything in between.

6) People just tell you what they want you to hear.

It is a common misconception that people can easily fake an assessment by just responding in ways that they think the organization desires. The truth is, our research shows that only a small percentage of individuals engage in faking behaviors while taking an assessment. Additionally, there is variance in the way candidates are responding to items.

And, most importantly, we’ve seen strong relationships between how people score on an assessment and job performance. We would not be able to find such relationships if there were a large percentage of applicants lying, or faking, on assessments. The variation in the way that candidates respond to items within assessment also means that everyone is not responding the same, and that variation didn’t reflect meaningful differences that relate to success on the job.

7) If the candidate doesn’t get hired, it will hurt their perception of my company.

This excuse could not be farther from the truth. In actuality, by implementing an assessment as part of your hiring process, you are one step closer to ensuring consistency and fairness throughout the hiring process. When candidates can see that the test is job-related and used fairly they are more likely to be accepting of the outcome.

Additionally, we have conducted research comparing consumer behavior of individuals who were hired to those that were rejected and found only a weak relationship. Small differences in spending are to be expected as employees are certainly more likely to purchase goods and services from their organization (especially when a discount is offered). However, those who were not hired still purchased goods and services as well.

This only skims the surface of some of the incorrect interpretations of the purpose and value of assessments that we have heard over the years. The main point we want you to walk away with is that assessments not only add consistency to your hiring process, they bring you higher quality candidates and save your company money. You can thank us later.

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Vicki Cooper Vicki Cooper is a former Consulting Associate based in PSI's Pittsburgh office. She worked with clients across many different industries, but specialized in manufacturing selection and development. She oversaw assessment programming and implementation, interview guide development, and day-to-day client needs.