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Use of Assessments for Hiring

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Article by Vicky Karuga

I recently had a debate with someone on the value of personality assessments and I thought I should probably write an article.

In Kenya today, the use of psychometric instruments is still growing. And we also have a lot of people who still have the same old beliefs about psychometric assessments that have been debunked by research over the years. Quite a few people have likened them to Horoscopes. The majority of the consumers of assessments will use them for the information they get to enable better hiring decisions. A smaller percentage will use the assessment for on-boarding and an even smaller percentage will use them after this.

Assessments, OR tests.
If you Google the difference, there will be quite a few results. Whatever word you choose, the objective should be to put the candidate at ease. Whereas it is true that the overall objective of a psychometric assessment should be to find the person most fit for the role, this is as important to the Employer as it is to the Employee. It is this message that each candidate should be given, to reduce the instances that they will try ‘beat’ the assessment and therefore skew the results.

There are many factors that need to be taken into account when hiring: Cognitive fit, cultural fit, behavioral fit for the role. The most successful assessments are multi-measure assessments. Those that incorporate several elements like cognitive, personality, integrity, etc. Which brings me to the next discussion;

Be careful using Personality assessments for Hiring
And especially those that might not relate their reports to how successful individuals will be at performing the role. Many of these, which might be a lot cheaper, may lack the required test-retest reliability, validity, norming and distortion scores that are useful when it comes to hiring. The use of such personality assessments should be left for team buildings, development of self-awareness, awareness of others among other development needs.

What do you do with all that DATA?
This is one of the most underutilized advantages of Psychometrics. Even when used as part of the hiring process, as best practice, follow through on the data these assessments provide reduces significantly after the candidate is selected. This might also explain why a large proportion of organizations leave the set up of hiring assessments to their hiring agents. Yes, the information received is valuable in making a decision but there is still more value in actually being able to see how assessments can impact the bottom line; Value in developing a common language for your organizations to use when discussing performance and job fit; metrics for top performers be it for sales or customer service. The data received if one learns how to look shows you certain trends in your organization that will help you make even more effective decisions peculiar to your culture and objectives.

Assessments also become useful in the coaching of individuals to achieve maximum potential, team building sessions, development of self-awareness, and awareness of others. They, therefore, give you a better ROI on their use.

All in all, it is beneficial to have both HR staff, line supervisors and managers well versed, perhaps certified, in reading the assessments, enabling them to be part of the whole process of making the assessment work for both the Employer and the Employee.

What does a good assessment look like:

  1. It is normative in nature – which allows you to compare scores of one candidate against another
  2. They have high-reliability scores.
  3. They have valid predictors of job performance
  4. They have a distortion (Candidness) score or scale
  5. They measure stable traits likely to remain with the candidate for some time.

What about Emotional Intelligence Assessments?
There are quite a lot of Emotional Intelligence assessments offered for hiring. The “Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations” is an organization whose mission is to advance research and practice of emotional and social intelligence in organizations. It gives a list of assessments they have reviewed and selected for having some substantial body of research. And I quote “Some of these tests seem promising, but many have not been empirically evaluated”

Research is still on-going on the overlap of personality assessments and Emotional Intelligence constructs. Most research, though not exhaustive seems to suggest that there is little correlation. There may be a significant correlation though with the ‘Openness’ in the Big Five. Personality assessments do aid in one of the main competencies of EI – self-awareness.

In Summary: 
All in all, using validated, highly predictive, and normed assessment tools help Executives, Leaders, and Business owners make informed decisions while hiring people. It definitely does make these decisions more thorough. Each organization should look to invest in a process that starts to prove its business impact.

Profiles International EA
Profiles International EA

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