Getting the Right Candidate in the Right Job: the Do’s and Don’ts of Selection Tests
Deciding who to hire can be a stressful task, especially since the consequences of making a bad decision can be costly. Traditionally, companies have relied on resumes, interviews and reference checks to select a candidate, but these can be subjective, open to personal biases, and may not address the core requirements that are key to successful job performance.
Some companies use screening tests to provide a more objective assessment of someone’s performance. These screening tests can be effective, insofar that they are actually testing the specific requirements for the job, but far too often they are administered without much thought being put into what is important to measure and why. This speaks to the defensibility of a test. You may be opening yourself up for a grievance or even a law suit if you administer tests that are not relevant to the job.
Personality Tests – Approach with Caution
Personality tests are sometimes used for selection purposes, but are they really measuring factors that are relevant to the job? For example, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an off-the-shelf personality assessment, is often used in employment testing despite the fact that its validity (i.e., is it measuring what it is supposed to measure?) and reliability (i.e., is it consistent in its measurement?) are highly disputed in the literature. In other words, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert has nothing to do with your performance on the job, and how you feel on a particular day could affect how you rate yourself. Other personality inventories, such as the Big-5 Personality Traits, also known as the Five Factor Model, are shown to be more reliable in measuring personality traits, but only one factor – conscientiousness – has shown to be related to job success.
Other types of tests, such as cognitive ability tests (e.g., intelligence tests) and situational judgement tests (e.g., tests asking what you would do in a particular situation), have been shown to be associated with certain types of job performance. For example, tests for general intelligence may be associated with overall job performance, especially for jobs that are intellectually demanding.
Similarly, situational judgement tests can predict job success if the test is linked to a realistic job situation or a problem that needs to be solved. The challenge here is that administering a “one-size-fits-all” type of test will be more predictive of successful job performance for some jobs more than others.
Benchmarking Tests to Job Requirements
Tests that are most valid, reliable and defensible are those that are benchmarked against actual job requirements, which can be defined through competencies – knowledge, skills and behaviours – used to describe job requirements. Developing tests that are based on job requirements takes the guesswork out of what needs to be assessed and helps ensure that the right employees are in the right jobs.
This post was written by contributing author Aida Hadziomerovic