<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=353110511707231&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Six Questions to Ask When Choosing an Employee Assessment Provider

November 20, 2014

QuestionsBig data, analytics, informed decision-making are all buzz words that are taking the business world by storm. Within this movement, of more informed decision-making, more and more companies are trying to get “smarter” about how they hire their new employees. This has led to an increase in the use of assessments to make hiring decisions. As with any demand, as their usage increases, the number of assessment vendors also increases. So, how can someone new to the assessment industry differentiate the quality vendors from the opportunistic vendors? Here are some questions that you should be asking all potential vendors to help you determine which company will provide the best solution for your organization.

1) How will your company determine the right competencies that should be measured for our position?

To determine the appropriateness of an employee assessment, one must first understand the role(s) that are going to be using the assessment, and the factors that make an individual successful in this role. The most common first step for an assessment vendor is to conduct a job analysis. This allows the job analyst to determine the important knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for successful performance. Put simply, a job analysis will inform the vendor of the most important competencies that an individual must have prior to being hired.

2) How can we determine if the assessment will actually predict performance on the job?

Another potential method of determining if you have the right tool is to conduct a criterion-related validation study. This type of study directly relates how individuals score on the selection assessment to how he/she performs on the job. Ideally, individuals who score high on the assessment should perform well on the job, and individuals who score low on the assessment should do poorly on the job. If this is not the case, you are likely spending a lot of money for a tool that provides you with its best guess.

*BEWARE of the vendor that indicates that they have a validated assessment. This should send off alarms. Assessments themselves are not 100% valid. Rather, the use of an assessment in a specific scenario is valid. Splitting hairs? No. Just because an assessment is able to predict performance in one scenario, does not, in and of itself, mean that it is valid in a different scenario. Validity is context specific.

3) How long is your assessment and how it is administered?

I’ve written it before: be cautious of the short assessment with big promises. All things being equal, using 10 questions to measure a competency will be more accurate than using five. Thus, do not necessarily be swayed by the 10 minute assessment that measures 20 competencies. When making important hiring decisions, you are likely better off with a 1 hour assessment that accurately measures 10 competencies. Afraid candidates will drop out? Do you really want to hire that candidate that is not willing to spend an hour to get a job? Tweet this:Tweet: Do you really want to hire that candidate that is not willing to spend an hour to get a job? http://ctt.ec/fl24b+ via @select_intl

How the tool is administered is an important factor for you to understand and make sure that it fits your business need. There is no research to suggest that online is better than in-person or vice-versa. Instead, simply make sure that they offer a platform that fits your business need.

4) How were the tools developed?

If you do not hear the words “based on the extensive research that has been previously completed in the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology” or “based on our own extensive research” it is not likely to be a good answer. There is an entire discipline (I/O Psychology) that studies effective test development and if the vendor does not employ, or isn't at least familiar with this practice, it could be a red flag.

5) How well can they be tailored to our specific situation?

Creating a completely customized assessment from scratch for each position is an expensive and time-intensive process, one that we do not often recommend. That being said, for the assessment to accurately predict performance in your organization there will need to be some customization around how each competency is weighted or scored. This may not be necessary, but wouldn’t you want the option?

6) What kind of ongoing service and support does your company offer?

As with any vendor in any industry, the service and support will be critical. Anything can happen, from candidates having trouble logging into the assessment to hiring managers wanting to better understand the assessment results. Make sure that you will have a partner that will help you through these issues in a timely manner. This will be critical to the long-term success of your selection procedure.

Keep these six questions in mind as you start to look around at the different assessment vendors. Don’t take the standard, cliché answer either. Dig deep to make sure they’re not just blowing smoke. The company that can provide strong answers to all six questions may very well be the best possible choice.

Are All Employee Assessments Alike?


Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. He has extensive experience developing, implementing, and validating legally defensible selection solutions for organizations. Steven has worked in a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and education.