Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Assessments: More than meets the eye

So I quasi-randomly completed the 'personality quiz' over at the LA Times page. I did it just for fun, but it actually did something useful with my results--tailored my news. Although the label it gave me ("hot shot") is questionable, the stories it returned were based on the pictures I selected, things like politics, vacationing in Hawaii, and spending time with family. This led to a couple thoughts:

1) Why aren't more tests like this? Those of us on the professional side of testing often forget that there are tests that people actually enjoy taking. In fact people take "personality tests" all the time, through Facebook or on random websites. It's the kind of thing people pass around via e-mail. When was the last time you looked forward to taking an employment test?

2) I wonder what theory (if any) this is based on? It uses Imagini's VisualDNA technology, but I wasn't able to determine much from their website other than it took over three years to develop. Oh, and that apparently it's used by a number of sites, including match.com and hotels.com, for marketing purposes.

Taking this quiz also made me think not only about the "fun" side of testing but about alternate uses of assessment tools. These measures don't have to be used for selecting in and out. They can be used for many purposes, including some that are obvious (development) and some that perhaps aren't, like placement.

Using assessments for placement is something career counselors do all the time, but it's relatively rare for organizations. It shouldn't be. Imagine the value of putting some of your old-but-still-good assessments on the web and allowing people to take them, get feedback about their results, and receive some information that would allow them to self select in or out of various positions. It's a tool for insight, a realistic job preview, and an efficient way to populate the top of your selection funnel--all at the same time.

But wait, there's more. Imagine if you could populate your applicant tracking system with the results of said assessments. Imagine if, at the end of the assessment(s), the results strongly indicated the individual would be a good fit for a certain type of job. You could store their results for contacting in the future, provide them with additional recruiting material, lead them to relevant vacancies, and/or encourage them to apply.

Aside from some of the bleeding edge video game-type assessments, I haven't seen any selection tests that come close to fun (yes, I know we like to think that assessment centers are "fun" for applicants but we're fooling ourselves). And I don't recall seeing anyone using tests for placement in the way I described.

Have you?

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