How to Choose Employment Assessments For Your Business
There are thousands of employment tests, and thousands of job types—how can you know which test to use for hiring for which job? The process starts with deciding what you want to accomplish. Where do you have room for improvement? In many hourly positions, important outcomes include productivity, retention, involuntary termination, safety, service quality, and sales volume, among others. Right now there might be higher priorities than reducing turnover. Using tests to screen for generically better employees doesn’t work very well. You need to define “better.”
Think in terms of a three-level model of job information. Employers specify the first two: outcomes and behaviors. Choose outcomes that are worth the effort, and then identify employee behaviors that produce them. For example, behaviors such as working faster, taking limited breaks, taking initiative to start work, and following through to completion are behaviors that roll up across a workforce to the outcome of higher productivity.
Take the example of workplace safety. The outcome of interest is reducing the cost of accidents and injuries, including insurance premiums and days off the job. The behaviors that lead to cost reduction are following safety practices, working carefully, avoiding shortcuts or goofing off, paying close attention and staying focused, and returning to work quickly after a safety incident.
The third level of information is the foundation of the first two: To choose appropriate tests, you need to find those that measure the human KSAPs (Knowledge, Skill, Ability, and Personal Characteristics) that underlie the required behaviors. The core principle is that KSAP-traits lead to behaviors. A test doesn’t literally measure behavior. It measures skills or traits that predict behavior. You know what behaviors are important; you need to find tests that link to those behaviors.
This might require consulting with an Industrial Psychologist who has expertise in assessment, or you could make that judgment from the test publishers’ materials. To improve safety performance, a test would measure traits of rule-following, attentiveness, boredom avoidance, impulse control, orderliness, and cautiousness. People who score higher on the test have more of these traits and will exhibit more of the related behaviors.
To use tests that make a valuable contribution, link the three levels: Define your intended outcome, figure out what individuals’ behaviors will get there, and find a test that measures the traits that lead to those behaviors.