Here’s one of my hiring pet peeves: When talking about assessment, a manager says, “What if the person doesn’t test well? Do we still have to use the test results?” As with every question, I first try to think through why it was asked. Had this person failed a test for job he wanted and now is doing just fine (in his mind)? Is she afraid that using a test will prevent her from hiring the person she wants (loss of control)? Does he just not understand how testing works?
What I want to say is, “What if she didn’t interview well, would you still hire her?” If someone stammered or didn’t make good eye or didn’t do a good job of explaining his qualifications during an interview, would that information be ignored? Of course not!
Unlike typical interviews, which are based on faith and intuition, results from well designed and valid tests/assessments are based on evidence. I would venture to say that most other business decisions are done that way, so why not the hiring ones?
But, back to the issues of “testing well.” Does it refer to a person who doesn’t do his best under pressure? Depending on the job, I think that’s an important piece of information about the candidate. Does it mean that she takes a longer than average to process information? Again, that’s very useful to know. This is not to say that every test is a perfect predictor of performance. But to throw out the results of a valid assessment over an unsubstantiated premise makes no sense.
Without better education about validated tests, managers will always favor interviews over them. It gives them more control over the process and put their imprint on who gets hired. In HR, part of our role is to provide information about how the scores on valid and reliable tests accurately reflect a candidate’s skills/abilities, whether they “test well” or not.
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