Getting to know you – Should you test or not test during the employment process?
There is a lot of debate around the subject of testing during the employment process and probably with good reason. Regardless of the reason for the testing being carried out, there is a certain validity in the viewpoint that a test is, in essence, only ever an assessment of the performance or answers given during that specific test. Basically, some people are of the opinion that the test only actually checks the candidate’s ability to do the test itself and nothing more. At the heart of the debate around testing then is the question of the validity of the result in usefully assessing the candidate’s suitability for the role.
Testing is usually looking at one of two areas
Broadly speaking, testing is usually looking at one of two areas in the employment arena. Commonly it will be either performing a specific ability audit where the test is confirming a skill set or experience based capability, or it will be of the psychometric persuasion and be considering the personality and nature of the candidate. In either case, the inclusion of a test is a gatekeeping process in that it is there to influence the decision on which candidates are suitable for progression down the employment route.
This, in turn, raises a further question about the placement of testing in the timeline of the employment process.
For skills and abilities testing, reason would suggest the earlier, the better so you can spot those candidates who simply would not be able to perform well in the role. In fairness, however, it is very rare that a candidate will exaggerate their skills beyond their competence levels because this is clearly going to be discovered very quickly. One does then begin to wonder what purpose is actually being fulfilled by the testing and this would certainly seem even more important the more specialist the candidate skills are. A good skills test, however, has an added dimension. A well-constructed test can reach beyond the audit and examine softer skills such as reasoning, adaptability, critical thinking and creativity. While the candidate can allude to these in their CV and other information these skills, unlike the hard skills, are difficult to assess outside the work environment. For this reason alone, it is difficult to discard the testing of skill sets.
The psychometric test has been the subject of a lot of debate since they first began to appear in the employment process. Many people feel that the very idea that filling in a test can provide any useful information on a candidate is basically flawed. Human beings are complex and individually unique, so how can a simple test even scratch the surface of their personalities? Others will respond to this by pointing out that these tests can be surprisingly accurate. I am sure you have done one of the more popular ones at some point and, assuming you answered honestly, they do seem to produce undeniably accurate sounding results. However, how much this should influence a decision on whether a potential candidate should be progressed or not is a rather delicate subject. The question of honest answering is always there because the candidate may be answering in the way they think the test expects. Many personality tests will claim that this is accounted for in the construction of the, however.
The results must be meaningful
Wherever you stand on the debate about testing in the employment process, if you are going to use it then it is vital that it is used in an integrated and holistic way. The test is only useful if the result is meaningful and that means integration of the result into a wider employment process to ensure a fair and accurate assessment of candidates.
In a short article such as this, we can only really brush the surface of the appropriateness of testing as an employment tool. In the end, the real proving ground for whether testing is appropriate is in the individual client’s particular circumstances. In essence, the test for testing is in whether it is suitable for your individual needs.
As always, we are more than happy to discuss your employment needs, including the viability of testing, so please feel free to call us and discuss how we can help you get the team you need.