Assessments are being used more extensively by SMEs for selection, team building and staff development.
Here’s a quick rundown on the basics to help you choose an assessment with confidence.
What are assessments?
An assessment is any process that gives you a quantitative means of understanding how an individual thinks and behaves. They are typically used to measure the suitability of a candidate to a proposed or current role against predetermined characteristics deemed important for success by an employer, but they can also have wider application in any business.
Assessments can come in two forms: aptitude and ability tests, or personality and interest tests.
Aptitude and ability tests are aimed at determining if an individual is capable of performing a certain task. I think of these as the ‘Can they do it?’ type of test.
Personality and interest tests measure how a person would perform these tasks, as well as provide broader insights about how they interact with other people and their environment. To me, these are the ‘Will they do it?’ tests. For most employers, this is where an assessment can be very valuable because it gives you information, in advance, that is otherwise very difficult to uncover.
The outcome of the second type of assessment is usually a report that describes a person’s most likely behaviour in relation to certain criteria. The results will show whether or not a person meets your set criteria, as well as provide an insight into how they are likely to respond to certain situations.
Depending on the particular test, they can be used for recruitment, team building, succession planning and many other purposes.
Some people say they rely on assessments while others reject them outright.
Here are some of the reasons people feel the way they do:
Why use assessments?
- Long-term payoff: While there may be an initial outlay for administering the test, it can save you in the long run by supporting better decisions.
- Real deal: An assessment can give you a more accurate picture of a candidate than an interview.
- Fairness: Because the tests are based on statistics, they treat each candidate equally and provide objective comparisons.
- Beyond the test: Once the test is completed, the results can be a useful framework for further interview questions, reference-checking and onboarding.
Things to watch out for
- Doubts about the methodology: There are many tests out there, but only a few can give you specific and relevant information, backed by benchmarked data.
- Poor Training: If test administrators have been incorrectly or insufficiently trained, results can be easily misinterpreted.
- Manipulation: All tests are not the same in terms of consistency checking, so it may be possible for candidates to cheat some of them.
How do you choose?
There are many assessments available.
Rather than being overwhelmed by all the details and comparisons, my advice is to choose a reputable provider with a test that has strong science behind it.
Make sure the assessment is easy to use and will give you the flexibility you need for a range of uses in your business.