I have heard that pre-employment personality testing is not legal. Is that true?

That is clearly not true. In fact, proper use of good assessments can provide the most effective documentation of objective and nondiscriminatory hiring practices. Most legal issues occur when those instruments are used inconsistently or improperly. It is important to consult with individuals who are knowledgeable in such applications. Too often companies have failed to gain the benefits of new pre-employment personality testing technology because of conservative but uninformed advice. In today’s competitive world, businesses can no longer afford not to explore every possible competitive advantage.

Won’t some people be offended by being asked to complete a test?

Certainly, but if some people are offended by a company’s sincere and professional efforts to ensure the success of their employees through effective job matching, it is a small price to pay for the overall benefits to all employees in the company.

Aren’t there some people who just don’t do well on tests?

The inherent concept in the newest assessment technology is that all people are good at something, but no one is good at everything. That includes pre-employment personality testing. In general, most people are anxious about taking any kind of assessment. This reaction has been conditioned by years in school, where passing or failing a test determined an individual’s class standing. Other tests such as driving tests or medical tests also contributed to this attitude. This is why it is important to explain the purpose of any test or assessment to all candidates before it is given. Right and wrong answers do not exist for many pre-employment assessment tests. They merely assess personality traits and personal values and then match them to job benchmarks. Outliers are not wrong but indicate that individual might need to adjust extra hard to be successful if hire. Skill tests, like Excel, typing, and math tests, on the other hand, do have right and wrong answers. People who don’t do well taking tests will certainly be affected by technical and administrative type tests. Many of the latest instruments provide preliminary messages that do exactly that and put the candidate at ease.

It is important to recognize that people with poor skills will seldom be enthusiastic when asked to take a test to measure those skills. People with performance problems will not be enthusiastic about completing an assessment to see how their abilities match a particular job. That is exactly why assessments are a vital part of today’s business world. Effective assessment instruments can identify the critical areas that people do not want to reveal, but that the business must know in order to make the best decision.

Our selection process is rather long now. How can we find time to fit in any tests?

The use of good assessments tends to collapse the time needed for selection decisions, not make it longer. Using a 10 -15 minute instrument such we offer in Big 5 Assessments and Elite Assessments enables an employer to effectively screen out unsuitable candidates before spending substantial amounts of interviewing time with them. By focusing the selection efforts on those candidates that are most likely to succeed, employers can not only make faster decisions but more accurate decisions. By accelerating the hiring decision, employers also become more competitive at capturing talent in their job market.

We use recruiters for our key positions. Why should we consider pre-employment personality testing?

Professional recruiters can offer significant advantages in seeking candidates for many positions, but it is important to remember these caveats:

– Recruiters get paid for filling positions.
– Recruiters do not get paid for screening out candidates.
– The worst recruiter using good assessments will make fewer mistakes than the best recruiter who does not use assessments.

By incorporating good pre-employment personality testing into the recruiting process, you gain the benefits of recruiting professionals and at the same time, gain insurance against them making a mistake that costs you money.

We use a customized interview system. Do we also need pre-employment personality testing?

Customized interview systems, behavioral event-based interviewing, targeted interviewing, and competency-based interviewing are all sound methods for identifying potentially successful job candidates. Several systems use bio-data surveys to profile successful employees and then attempt to match interviewees to that profile. These programs can be an effective part of an employer’s hiring process. They, however, lack the objective measurement of current assessments. As more people become involved with the interviewing, the system becomes more vulnerable to the subjective differences of each individual interviewer. The process also requires a substantial amount of interviewing time to accomplish the screening that newer instruments such as Big 5 Assessment and Elite Assessments can do in a matter of minutes. These instruments even provide behavioral interview questions based on the individual characteristics of the candidates. By screening candidates before in-depth interviews, the process is made much more efficient. Our pre-employment tests provide recommended interview questions in each employee assessment report, and then you can have the best of both worlds.

We use an industrial psychologist. Why should we consider assessments?

Industrial psychologists play an important role by supplying a professional psychological opinion as a supplement to many decision-making processes. This can be quite expensive however. It often makes sense to use an inexpensive assessment tool, such as Big 5 or Elite, to screen out unsuitable candidates before incurring the expense of the psychologist.

Several things must also be clear about the role of the psychologist:

– The use of an industrial psychologist to supply information used for a hiring or placement decision in no way limits the exposure of the client company to federal and state regulations (e.g. If that information can be shown to be discriminatory, the decision can be shown to be discriminatory.).
– The psychologist’s summary information is only as good as the assessments used to obtain the initial data. (i.e. A psychologist’s analysis cannot compare to the quality of information gleaned from a validated pre-employment test.).

I want to use assessments to help us hire better people. What is the best way to do that?

The best answer to that question depends upon many factors, such as the culture of the employer, the population of job candidates, the current market conditions, and many more. 

Can we use assessments with our current employees?

Of course, you can use most assessments in many ways with existing employees. The exception might  be honesty and integrity tests which should only be used for pre-hire candidates. For all other situations, good assessment information can help solve performance problems and improve working relationships dramatically. You may also use them selectively; it is not necessary to test as comprehensively as in a hiring situation.

We were considering creating our own tests. Wouldn’t that be better?

It depends on what you are trying to measure. If there is some unique skill, ability, or set of knowledge that is critical to successful performance in a particular job, and there is not an existing instrument that measures that, it may be necessary to construct one. However, if job success is more dependent upon a unique combination of fundamental characteristics of behavior and abilities, it is much better to use established tools. Many of the most commonly used assessments have been developed, validated, and re-validated over many years; tested thousands of people to participate in the normative studies; and invested tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is usually more economical and more effective to buy that level of expertise. While producing “customized” tests may offer a surface appeal, it is rarely a wise expenditure of resources with so many other options available and poses considerable risk to the business if the employer is ever challenged.