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What's Better: A Fit-Based or a Performance-Based Assessment?

September 22, 2015

question-markUsing assessments in the selection process tools has many advantages. Most notably, assessments provide candidate information about the way an individual is likely to behave on the job. Many understand the value a job relevant assessment can provide, but how do you know what type of assessments are best for your company? In this blog, I thought I'd discuss two common assessment types, the value these assessments provide, and suggestions for choosing which assessments to use.

Pre-Screening Tools

Pre-screening tools are commonly shorter (15 – 20 minutes), less intensive steps in the hiring process such as online applications and fit assessments. Pre-screening tools are meant to be used at the beginning of the hiring process. These tools help organizations identify candidates in the hiring process who do not meet the basic requirements of the job, and those candidates who are the least likely to be a good match for a particular job.

Fit assessments are particularly valuable for removing candidates who pose the most risk within an organization and for predicting turnover. The goal of a fit assessment is to identify and screen out the riskiest candidates. Common risk factors assessed in our fit assessments include dependability, reliability, and absenteeism risk, as a few examples.

Another advantage with using fit assessments is the ability of these tools to provide organizations with supplemental information about a candidate’s preferences. This information can help determine whether or not a candidate will be a good fit for a particular job and work environment. Factors that we commonly collect information on include: task variety (high or low) and how important recognition and affiliation are to a candidate.

One instance in which a fit assessment may not provide enough utility is if it is the only assessment in the hiring process for a company that has a large hiring pool and only a few spots to fill. Because fit assessments weed out around 10 – 15% of a hiring pool, a large candidate pool would still result. In this specific instance, using a fit assessment AND a more robust, in-depth assessment would provide greater utility and ability to differentiate among candidates, in a legally defensible manner.

In-Depth Assessments

In-depth assessments are commonly longer (60 to 90 minutes), more robust assessments created to provide organizations with a true depiction of what a candidate’s performance will be on the job. In-depth assessments are regularly used towards the end of the hiring process, or once a candidate has jumped through most of the hoops.

In-depth assessments provide organizations with specific, valuable information about a candidate’s performance. Some concepts commonly measured in in-depth assessments include personality and cognitive ability. Competencies are measured by using multiple modes of measurement for one particular concept. For example, one’s safety orientation can be measured in a single assessment via personality items, situational judgment items, and a work simulation. Another advantage of in-depth assessments is that they allow organizations to safely screen out anywhere from 60 – 70% of a candidate population, on average. Organizations are then left with a smaller, strong candidate pool to consider in the final stages of the hiring process.

Although in-depth assessments are excellent at providing organizations with performance-specific information about candidates, there can be instances where using a robust assessment may “over exhaust” a hiring process. In particular, if a company has a difficult candidate pool in which they cannot find or hire enough qualified candidates, using only a robust assessment or a fit and robust assessment can potentially eliminate more of a candidate pool than is desired. However, one must consider the gamble in reducing the hurdles of a hiring process. When eliminating predictive tools in the hiring process, an organization reduces the stringency in their hiring process. Thus, the caliber of candidates advancing to the end of the hiring process may not be as high as one would expect.


In sum, both fit and in-depth assessments can provide incremental value to an organization’s hiring process. When combined in the hiring process, organizations can learn valuable information about a candidate including whether they are likely to turnover and how they are likely to perform on the job. In specific circumstances, it may be more beneficial to use one assessment type over the other, and this largely comes down to one’s hiring pool, volume, and organizational goals. Nonetheless, both assessments provide organizations with accurate information about a candidate’s behavior and whether they are likely to be successful on the job.

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Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.