Assumptions About Assessments

I’ll admit, I’m an assessment fan. Over the last 10 years, I’ve conducted at least seven studies on the topic, and my data along with that of many others have shown how valuable they can be. But there are a lot of assumptions about assessments – from assessment users and assessment skeptics. My latest study on assessments has just finished data collection, and I will be sharing some of the insights on Friday, February 5 at 1 PM Eastern (you can register here). In the meantime, I wanted to address a couple of assessment assumptions here.

Assessments are only for hiring. Organizations still use assessments more in the hiring process than for ongoing development, and our study showed that 58% of the average assessment budget is spent on pre-hire assessments, compared to 42% spent on post-hire. Using assessments in both the pre-and post-hire has a significant impact in multiple areas, including turnover. Organizations that are not using assessments saw an average 3% increase in year-over-year voluntary turnover, compared to a 1% turnover reduction in organizations using assessments throughout the talent lifecycle.

Assessments make decisions for you. All too often, business leaders and employees or candidates think assessments are a test which candidates pass or fail on their way to a job offer or promotion. Sometimes this is a misperception, but occasionally organizations really are using assessments incorrectly as a go/no go decision tool. Assessments need to be part of the talent conversation and should be used as a guide for behavioral interviewing or development opportunities, not as a single piece of information to dictate whether or not someone is hired or promoted. When treated this way, they are a win-win.

Assessments are all the same. There is a lot of confusion about what different assessment types do. In our research, we defined the following five assessment types:

  • Personality – assesses an individual’s preferences and traits that influence how they interact with others
  • Skill – assesses technical ability to perform requisite tasks of the job
  • Behavioral – assesses the likelihood an individual is to behave in ways aligned with job success
  • Aptitude – assesses current ability or suitability to learn the tasks of a job
  • Cognitive – assesses the thinking processes related to the demands of the job

Currently, skill and personality assessments are the most widely used for both hiring and development, helping organizations understand if someone has the capability for the job and conditions under which they are most likely to be successful. Behavioral assessments are a close third, helping organizations understand how those skills and behaviors will show up to enable job success.

And don’t forget, like any tool, assessments are only as good as their users. You can use assessments the wrong way. It’s important for HR and the business to work together with their solution providers to understand what an assessment really measures and what type of action should be taken, based on the results. Assessments are just part of the process, but the data they provide can help steer talent decisions in the direction of success.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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