Monday, September 18, 2006

Choosing assessments

Good post up on ERE from
Charles Handler ,who always has very clearheaded advice to offer. This one's about how to select assessment tools. Some gems:

- The more time you spend matching the assessment tools to the desired outcome, the better the results. One of my mantras is that there is a direct relationship between the amount of time spent on assessment and the outcome. If you think of a way to short-circuit this, let me know and we'll make millions.

- Assessments can be broken down into three basic categories: What people have done (resume, background checks), what they can do (ability tests, personality inventories), and what they want to do. Looking at tests this way helps us understand that different types of tests are appropriate for different levels; for example, "what can you do" tests are generally more appropriate for entry-level jobs than "what have you done" tests.

- Ideally, different types of tests should be woven together depending on job requirements. I like that phrasing because it helps us envision selection as a work of art that may look different each time we do it.

- Test vendors should provide thorough information regarding how the test was developed and any validation evidence. Good developers will not hesitate to provide you with this information. Also, make use of independent resources like
Buros to check underneath the hood. If you're not versed in the technical details, seek assistance.

- Consider simulation-based assessments. Amen. Simulations, or work sample tests, should be on every hiring expert's toolbelt. They're proven predictors of job performance and generally go over quite well with candidates. Plus, they can be a great job preview.

I would add a couple other things to consider when selecting an assessment:

- As much as possible, tailor the tests to your particular job and organization (as opposed to using a single off-the-shelf instrument). This helps make it defensible and feel more relevant to candidates.

- Consider the reputation of test vendors. Some vendors have been around a long time and offer substantial support. Others are essentially vaporware. Ask friends and experts what they know about a vendor before you plunk down your cash.

With some upfront planning and background checking of your own on the assessments, you can rest easier knowing the results are sound and the process is defensible.

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