SELECT PERSPECTIVES BLOG

How to Select an Assessment Tool

Posted by  Alissa Parr, Ph.D.

There are many benefits to implementing pre-hire assessment tools in your organization. For example, assessment tools can identify capable applicants, enhance productivity of staff, minimize errors and accidents, and promote equal employment opportunities. While the decision to use or not use an assessment tool may be obvious, there are several factors that you should consider when determining what assessment tool would be best for your target job position and organization. Here are a few considerations that you should make when deciding what tool to use for your selection system:

4609149991. What are the goals and what is the purpose for using the tool? It’s always a good idea to have an end goal in mind so you can zero-in on what tool would be best. First, the type of tool chosen may differ depending on what your goals are for using the tool. Your goals might range from increasing performance to improving retention to increasing the diversity of skills in your staff. If you have a specific focus on reducing turnover and increasing retention, you should consider a tool that, in addition to assessing job-relevant competencies, measures fit. Job and organizational fit is the degree of alignment between an individual’s preferences and the role or organization. Research has shown that employees are more likely to be satisfied and to stay on the job when there is a high degree of fit. Second, how you utilize the scores may differ depending on whether the purpose is for selection, promotion, or entry into a training program. In the case of promotion, you have a wealth of other information you can utilize and therefore you will want to think about how you can integrate the test scores and all of the other information.

2. What should be measured in the tool? All of the competencies and skills measured in the tool should be job-relevant and be needed at entry. A job analysis is a method that can be conducted to determine what skills are important for the target job position. After determining this list of skills needed for the job, you should consider how important they are relative to others and how feasible they are to measure. While you might find that there are several skills needed for the job, it’s not always possible to measure all of these skills. Therefore, you should select the skills that are most important and can be accurately and reliably measured. If you included all of the skills from the job analysis, the time to assess all of these would be significant. Additionally, it is likely that there may be overlap in the skills being measured and value added may lessen as you increase the number of skills measured. For example, while there is justification that adaptability and stress tolerance are separate competencies, there is some overlap between the two. Overall, focusing on competencies that are most important and can be accurately measured is critical.

3. How should you measure the important skills identified? There are several methods that can be utilized when assessing skills and abilities. The type of tool used can be influenced by:

  • Volume of candidates
  • Administrative concerns: personnel needed and amount of training necessary
  • Time requirements for candidates
  • Suitability of proctored vs. unproctored tests

These factors can influence whether you utilize a paper-pencil test, online test, role-play, assessment center, work simulation, and so forth.

4. What is the validity of the tool or how can this evidence be generated? Before using any tool, it is critical to know how well the tool works. Some assessment tools have been utilized previously, and therefore you may be able to make inferences based on this information. However, for other tools, it may be necessary to gather this evidence in your organization. Determining the tool’s relevance to the job, ability to predict future job performance, and accuracy in measuring the skills it purports to measure are pieces of information that can support the validity of the tool. It is always recommended to gather this evidence in a rigorous manner so it can be supported in a legal context.

While thinking through some of this information can seem a little daunting, they are all important steps that you need to take to make sure that the assessment tool chosen is appropriate for the target position in your organization. These initial steps can ensure that your tool is sustainable in improving your workforce.

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Tags:   employee assessments

Alissa Parr, Ph.D.

Alissa is a Consulting Manager at Select International. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.

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