If the Job Fits, Test It First

Skills and Pre=employment Testing

How to Hire People and Improve Candidate Quality

When it comes to the hiring process particularly pre-employment assessments and testing, there is much to discuss.  Pre-employment testing provides companies with a way to clearly evaluate a job candidate’s skill using an online test process to determine their true qualifications beyond the resume or the interview.  The pre-employment evaluation process helps you hire better people and improve candiadte quality.

Job seekers are becoming increasingly savvy treating their job search like a marketing campaign, even being encouraged to tell mistruths and lie on their application to get their foot in the door.  In fact studies have shown that most people lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation.  Electronic fibs and mistruths occur at an even greater rate increasing by five times than speaking face to face.  This certainly supports the belief that pre-employment screening and testing should be used as a candidate selection method to determine a more qualified applicant pool.

When it comes to skills testing and pre-employment testing one size does not fit all.  There is no perfect system out of the box.  It simply does not exist, and that is where validation testing comes into play. The most relevant and defensible way to validate an assessment is comparing a candidate’s score to a current employee’s score whose effectiveness in your organization is already known.

Use a Validation Testing Process to Determine if an Assessment is Work Ready

Validation testing is intended to check that development and verification procedures for a product, service, or system (or portion thereof, or set thereof) result in a product, service, or system (or portion thereof, or set thereof) that meets initial requirements, specifications, and regulations. Making sure you have the right sample population is important to make sure your validation testing is a success.  I recommend using recently hired employees as part of the validation testing process.  Overlay their test scores on top of their performance metrics to determine if your test questions and scope is correct.  Make the appropriate changes based on these results and retest.  It’s important to test and retest your results frequently to make sure that the information measured accurately depicts the skills required to do the job you are looking to fill.  For positions that are evergreen jobs this is easy, monitor test scores and analyze performance while also evaluating employee turnover to determine keeping your eye out for spikes or other red flags that require further investigation.  When hiring for a new position with no comparable in-house staff, how to validate?  I’d suggest relying on a reliable assessment vendor’s guidance on configuring or choosing an appropriate test for the job’s responsibilities.  Take time to read the questions and learn why the questions are relevant for the job.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Testing, & Disparate Treatment

The EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides insights into the risk of disparate impact in employment testing.  The methods of determining the test’s job-relatedness are outlined here by the UGESP which stands for Uniformed Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.  The personal based (behavioral) assessments – also known as indirect tests since the questions are not obviously job-related – require substantial validation to show that they are predictive of seemingly unrelated performance measures.  Skills tests – also known as direct testing since the questions are directly related to professional tasks – offer a straightforward way to measure a job seeker’s qualifications sort of like an automobile test drive except it’s with an actual employee.  There’s a clear determination if the candidate is unskilled, moderately skilled, or highly skilled as part of the test, leaving the job seeker with little or no room for their electronic or face to face fibbing to fill in the gaps.

If the Job Fits, Test It First

Pre-employment testing offers many cost saving human capital benefits.  It’s important to make sure that your organization conducts validation testing and work with your assessment provider to help improve the success of your testing.  Doing so will save your recruiter and hiring manager time evaluating unqualified candidates, improve the quality of hire, and improve your organization’s productivity and employee retention.

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Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. Since 2003, eSkill.com has tested millions of job candidates for organizations worldwide such as Zappos, ADP, Coca-Cola, Randstad, and GE. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.


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