Job-Fit assessments – Do they work?

I took a battery of psychological tests to experience both the process and to try to validate the use of psychological tests in the hiring process.

The process:

When a hiring company creates a position, they may hire a talent management company to meet with the hiring team, manager, and possibly a few direct reports. Together they determine the attributes needed to best fill the position. Candidates are asked to complete a battery of tests, usually through an online tool. Then the talent management company analyzes the results to determine the best possible matches for the position.

My experience:

Four months ago, I was given the opportunity by a talent management company to take a battery of these tests. The tests took approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Three weeks later I was debriefed during a 2-hour session. Prior to the session, a 72-page report was emailed to me to peruse before the meeting.

Test results:

The 72-page report was obviously computer generated. I was astonished to find the comments terse, judgmental, and often carrying mixed messages.

One place indicated I show great “Persistence in job completion.” Yet, “She may lose interest in a project once the challenge ceases.” Huh?

The composite overview was accurate in some areas and not in others. It accurately cited challenges that I experienced, especially early in my career, but did not make any attempt to identify if I had learned to manage any of the “negative attributes.”

During the 2-hour debrief I asked the “coach” if the reports seems negative to other respondents. “Oh my yes!” was his response. So I asked what would keep someone in the work environment from misusing the information. The response was that since they had also been through the process, that they wouldn’t do that. (I’m quite skeptical about that.)

My opinion and concerns:

My experience with the results, leaves me highly suspect. The candidate responds to questions without context. And it is impossible for assessments to be specific with regard to a particular work-place.

If the assessments are inaccurate (mine was on several key areas!), the misconception is still there in the minds of the readers.

Truly the information in the report could be used equally well to find reason to fire me or hire me—depending on the objective of the person reading it.

Another concern regards the handling of highly personal information. The person I spoke with could not tell me where my information was being kept, for how long, and if there were any safe-guards in place to ensure it would not be used inappropriately.

The future of psychological testing:

A Harvard Business Review study
, cited on the Iowa State University Extension website, found that 80 percent of turnover is caused by inefficient hiring decisions on the part of the employer.

So, with those kinds of numbers, I believe we can clearly expect that businesses are going to continue to find ways to become more effective in the hiring process.

If I had been applying for a job, I would have approached the tests differently, and I strongly recommend reading Part 3 of this series to learn how to approach these tests.

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3 thoughts on “The Science of Hiring, Part 4: Job Fit Assessment Process

  1. In reviewing both the article and the comments from Mr. Gately OI noticed to sets of percentages bandied about — form experience these seem valid, however, as a researcher I would like to know the sources, so I too could come to a learned conclusion.
    In my opinion advancement of competent workers into managerial/leadership roles (without training) devolve into a cyclic bad management causing poor engagement, causing heightened bad management to low engagement until turnover of employee either directed or voluntary.
    The need for competent managers supersedes the a need for competent workers – or they will not stay…

    1. Dear Wendell,
      Thank you for reading and replying. You might be able to discuss your thoughts directly with Mr. Gately through LinkedIn. Or if you click on his name (below) it will take you directly to his sight. I agree with you that competent management is not something that employers can take for granted – even if a person has prior management experience. Engagement of employees, by making the workplace dynamic as well as fair compensation, is a critical factor for businesses that want top value from their employees.

      Another article that came from this discussion and blog may be found here: where I hope to add additional concerns that I share with you and Bob Gately.

      Again, thanks for taking time and for your insights.

  2. Hello Dr. LaReau,

    Was any assessment the DISC or the MBTI? Neither one is an effective predictor of job success. The MBTI publisher advisors users not to use it for employee selection since it does not predict job success.

    “The future of psychological testing: A Harvard Business Review study, cited on the Iowa State University Extension website, found that 80 percent of turnover is caused by inefficient hiring decisions on the part of the employer.”

    I could not agree more but I knew that in 1992 and I have been sharing the following for two decades.

    80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent 

    Employers do a… 

    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, almost 100%. 

    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%. 

    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%.

    Even though employers already hire competent employees they waste time and money trying to hire employees who are even more competent. 

    Employers hire employees, about 70%, who fit their culture and they can and should do a better job.

    The one area that is easily improved is hiring for job talent. With a Normative job talent assessment that 20% can be increased to 90% and above which will improve hiring successes far more than increasing competence and cultural fit combined.

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, long term, engaged employees.

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