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.
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.
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.
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.