The Science Behind Employee Assessments for Hiring
Personnel decisions are too important to leave to chance, and interviews and background checks can only reveal so much information. In this time of uncertainty, it is imperative companies try to surround themselves with as much certainty as possible.
One way to do that is by hiring the right people—people who will always show up, who give their best when on the job, and who are looking for ways to do their job better and to help improve company performance.
The best way to do that is through comprehensive assessments for hiring. Assessments go beyond the job interview and the background check. They provide an opportunity to get inside the head of a candidate, which allows an employer to gauge a candidate's ability and willingness to become an indispensable member of the organization.
For years, assessments for hiring were called personality tests. However, the word "test" gave the impression that failure was possible. With hiring assessments there is no passing or failing. Assessments provide a way to measure how well a person will fit in a particular job, with the team, and within the corporation. There are not "bad" scores as the quality of the fit to the job is assessed. Rather, they find a "good" or "poor" fit to a job.
Assessments use what are called psychometric instruments. A psychometric instrument measures knowledge, abilities, and personalities. Using an assessment for hiring allows companies to develop a clearer picture of how an individual would work within the structure of their organization. This is accomplished by measuring the individual on three scales:
- Behavioral traits—observable behavior reflects what that person knows.
- Occupational interests—someone's motivation for work can be associated with certain categories.
- Thinking styles—someone's knowledge processes are reflected in their learning style.
The scales that are developed for these assessments are the result of years of testing during which hundreds of thousands of assessments have been administered. Subjects who have provided the historic data on which these assessments are based represent a diverse cross section of ages, ethnic groups, income levels, educational levels, job titles, companies, and industries. Each participant provides another layer of strata that offers insight into the meaning behind an individual's response to a particular assessment question or item.
At the heart of an assessment is cognitive psychology—the ability to report one's behavior is a reflection of the total person within. This has a role in determining if someone is fit for a number of work environments.
There are at least nine behavioral traits that are measured by an assessment for hiring tool. These include energy, assertiveness, sociability, manageability, attitude, decisiveness, accommodating, independence, and objective judgment.
The consistency of the questioning, along with consistent answers, helps to provide support for the validity of the behavioral traits section. Those results will reveal that the energy and assertiveness scales are closely related to sales success, management performance, and organizational status. The attitude, accommodating, and objective judgment scales are related to customer service effectiveness, employee conscientiousness, and turnover.
The behavioral traits scales go a long way toward making effective placements in terms of good job fit; statistical analysis has backed that up. However, behavioral traits alone are not enough to ensure a good fit and successful hire.
Knowing the similarity between a person's interests and the interests of those who enjoy a particular job helps identify a successful job match and predict success in that job. A good match in occupational interests suggests a person will remain in their job longer and will be motivated to perform their job better.
Assessments then measure interest in six major occupational themes: enterprise, financial/ administrative, people service, technical, mechanical, and creative.
The thinking styles section of an assessment for hiring will determine a person's learning index (e.g., what they know, how easily they learn, and their ability to solve problems). The thinking styles section is based on four scales: verbal skill, verbal reasoning, numerical ability, and numeric reasoning.
The easier it is for a person to process information, the more quickly they will be able to learn the skills used on the job. Maximizing learning means finding the approach that will make the most of those learning skills.
The effectiveness of determining thinking style is seen across industries and from a variety of job candidates. The results are consistent regardless of the race, gender, or age of the subject. The consistencies exist regardless of the demographic pool from which the subjects are drawn.
Using assessments for hiring
A great use of assessments for hiring is to measure the performance of employees doing a specific job and then develop a benchmark or standard that matches the top performers. In one instance, a national sales company offered up its top 12 performers in order to develop a job-match pattern for the organization for future and current employees. The results were used for all subsequent job matching.
- Everyone assessed, including the original set of top performers, met the job-match pattern with a 79% or greater match at the "acceptable" matching point.
- Of those 12 top performers identified by the employer, 92% matched the pattern at or above the matching point.
- Of the 15 bottom performers (as identified by the employer), only 20% matched the pattern at or above the matching point.
- Of the remaining subjects who were identified as performing in the middle range, approximately half matched the pattern at or above the matching point (selection rate 52%).
These data summarized in the research consistently supported the theory that employees, well-matched with their occupations and with the organizations where they are employed, are inclined to be satisfied, to remain with their employer, and to be productive employees.
Want to learn more about the benefits of using assessments for hiring? Read more about pre-screening prospective employees.
Edited by: Jeff Meyers