Saturday, September 16, 2006

BLR founder on testing

Interesting post from BLR's founder Bob Brady on whether or not employment testing works.

The article is interesting for (at least) two reasons. First, he gives a bit of background about the
Wonderlic , one of the oldest and well known (some might say infamous for its role in the Griggs case) measures of cognitive ability. For those of you that didn't know (like me), the test was developed by gathering criterion-related information over time to verify the utility of the test rather than being theory-based.

Second, I found the posts following the article to be fascinating and an indication of the variety of views on the subject. Several comments pointed out that tests can never predict performance perfectly--and I don't think you'll find a testing expert who would say that. This strikes me as a dismissive argument, akin to saying we shouldn't wear seat belts because we could still be injured. The point has always been that good tests increase the likelihood of finding the right person; after all, hiring is in essence a game of chance.

Another post relayed a story about how even though a (presumably well developed) performance test was given, the person who scored the worst was given the nod to continue in the process. Why? Because they were an internal candidate and played the squeeky wheel card. This kind of stuff happens all the time, much to the anguish of many selection professionals who hold the concept of merit close to their hearts. In those cases, it really is who you know. More than likely the person is being set up for failure, the decision will reflect very poorly on the manager, and many people in the organization will be scratching their heads, thinking, "Why did that happen? How could we better ensure we have the right person?"

It's the tests, stupid.

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