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Our Top 8 - Assessment Dos and Don'ts

January 6, 2014

By: Jennifer Lucas

You've made a bad hire (or two), and now you’re seriously considering the merits of pre-employment testing. Or, your team is experiencing a lot of conflicts, and you’ve been told that personality assessments might aid in team building. Or, perhaps your team is NOT in conflict, but you’d like members to work better together nonetheless.

And all of these are excellent reasons to implement testing as a regular part of your hiring and people management processes.

That said, there are definite dos and don’ts to testing. Here are our top eight:

DO use tests as intended—CPP, the owner, and distributor of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), has identified the six key applications of the test as team building, management training, leadership development, individual coaching, career development, and change management. Pre-employment screening is noticeably absent from this list. That’s because the tests are intended for inclusion, not exclusion. Nevertheless, some employers insist on not following CPP guidelines (some even brag about their wonderful hiring processes—ugh) and consistently factor in test results when deciding who NOT to hire. That’s a bad idea. Always follow the test developer’s recommendations for how a test should be implemented and evaluated.

DO take the test yourself—Before administering a test, take it yourself. Taking the test yourself will give you first-hand experience of how and what the instrument tests. And, when you take the test, you’re able to use your scores as a benchmark. For instance, when I used to oversee payroll processing, I’d always test a potential employee for math aptitude and knowledge of terms like “pretax,” “posttax,” “1099,” and so on, and I knew that the successful candidate had to score higher than I did. Way higher.

DON’T test inconsistently—If you’re testing to evaluate prospective employees, be sure to test all employees applying for the position. Testing some and not others is pointless and could even render your organization liable for discrimination charges if those tested and eliminated from the hiring process claim they were illegally targeted.

DON’T test unnecessarily—​Don’t be lazy about testing! Don’t test if no one on staff is qualified to evaluate test results or if you honestly have no intention of minding the results. Also, don’t test for data that aren’t important for your organization. Assessments must be valid and reliable and administered properly to matter.

DO use assessments for team building—​Assessments are an excellent way for team members to learn about themselves and each other. Styles of communication, problem-solving, and handling conflict can all be tested and shared.

For example, imagine a manager frustrated with his employee because she doesn’t speak up enough at meetings. Once this frustrated (extroverted) manager learns that it’s only natural for his (introverted) employee to avoid the limelight, the manager can stop being frustrated and start coaching, with a new understanding that the employee is not deliberately trying to provoke his ire with her silence.

DO believe the test results—If you conduct pre-employment testing, don’t be tempted to ignore the results because you like a candidate who didn’t test well. There are excellent reasons to test and to heed the test results. For example, if a position requires an employee with high detail orientation, don’t hire someone whose test results indicate a low detail orientation—no matter how well his personality clicks with yours or how much you admire or relate to his background. He won’t do well in the position, and eventually, you’ll regret your decision.

DON'T use the cheapest test you can find—You're goal is to find valid and reliable tests that will yield data your organization can use, and the most thrifty option may not deliver. Remember, flawed tests administered poorly aren't a good use of time or money.

DO get help—​Whether your goal is hiring better employees or constructing a better team, you don’t have to go it alone. Instead, consider hiring a consultant experienced in conducting tests and assisting organizations in using test data for their benefit. A behavioral assessment and employment consulting firm like The Omnia Group is fully qualified to offer expert guidance in test selection, administration, and analysis.

Testing is an invaluable way for you to gain good information about potential employees. In team building, it is an equally excellent way for employees to gain information about themselves.

However, even a good thing can be compromised, but if you follow our top 8 "Dos and Dont's," you won't have to worry about that.


Jennifer Lucas

Jennifer originally joined The Omnia Group in 2005 as an analyst. After a brief stint away to work in project management and to start a family, her fascination with behavioral assessments pulled her back. She returned in 2011 as a member of the in-house analyst/project team. She writes and edits EPIC Profiles, Targets, special projects, and articles. She enjoys being able to provide guidance to build effective, productive teams and help find strong matches for both clients and candidates.

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