Pre-employment assessments typically fall into two categories. The first area is skills assessments. These are tests that measure cognitive capabilities. They determine if candidates possess the basic aptitudes required to accomplish the job – mechanical ability, mathematical skill, or specific operational requirements like typing or the ability to construct a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
The second area of testing is potentially more problematic. Psychometric assessments, commonly called personality tests by nervous applicants, are indicators of behavioral tendencies in an employment context. Many of these tests use a personality model (called the five factor model) that analyzes major personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. You’re not alone if you think that this kind of pre-employment assessment test is just a little creepy.
Some ways to scale through this test includes:
Verify that the test captures the information you need to make an effective decision regarding the given job opening (for example, skills vs. personality vs. sales aptitude). Make sure the test matches your needs.
Be sure the test has a track record that proves it will measure what it says it will. There should be technical materials supplied with the instrument that will make you feel confident about this.
Be sure the test is reliable. The test’s vendor should be able to provide evidence that proves the test’s accuracy and validity.
Verify that the test is legal to use by federal guidelines. Be sure to have a lawyer or consultant who specializes in employment discrimination review the test questions before using them.
Consistency is critical to the hiring process, so apply the same standards and criteria to all applicants for one job. For example, you may have every candidate complete a test, but submit for analysis only those applicants that make it to your “short list.” For more on hiring strategies.”
Have the results analyzed by a highly trained individual (for example, an industrial psychologist) or an employee selection and management firm. Be sure you can speak one-on-one with an expert who will explain the results, answer any questions and provide a hiring recommendation.