For Managers: Pre-Screening for Higher Yield on Your Applicant Pool Part 2

December 16th, 2019 by ifi-admin

In our last edition for Employers, we discussed ways to create a “lookalike” candidate pool by tracking and analyzing Quality of Hire metrics. In this edition, we’ll touch on ways that well-designed pre-screen testing can further refine your applicant pool.

Know What You’re Looking For

Before you design the right set of assessments for your potential applicants, it’s important to perform a job analysis to ensure that what you test for measures aspects that are relevant to critical work responsibilities and performance requirements.

That’s because testing can expose a company to litigation risks if a selection decision is challenged and determined to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends that tests used in the selection process must be legal, reliable, valid and equitable.

Tests must also be implemented in a way that does not discriminate against protected classes, and is ideally validated in advance as not having a discriminatory effect. Tests must be job-related for the position and consistent with a business necessity.

3 Key Types of Pre-Screening Tests:

Skill Tests

According to the American Management Association (AMA), 70% of employers use some form of job skill testing on prospective candidates. These tests are designed to measure job-related competencies and acquired knowledge that candidates have developed through their education and career experience. For example, many Phoenix Partner clients test for competency in general programming skills or for those required for specific applications. While skill testing is essential in Information Technology disciplines, these tests are not designed to predict long-term job performance, as most aptitude and personality tests are. Rather, they are intended only as an indicator of a person’s current skill level in key job-related competencies.

Cognitive ability – (High Validity/Highly Predictive)

These tests measure intelligence. The most common types, IQ tests, measure general mental ability. Other tests gauge verbal ability, math skills, spatial perception, or inductive and deductive reasoning.
Aptitude tests are closely related to cognitive ability tests, measuring an applicant’s critical thinking, problem solving skills, and the ability to learn, digest and apply new information.

There is a body of research that indicates these types of tests are more predictive of performance than any other kind of test. According to Heneman and Judge in “Staffing Organizations,” aptitude testing is twice as predictive as job interviews, three times as predictive as job experience, and four times as predictive as education level.

Critics of aptitude testing fear too much emphasis is placed on one dimension of a candidate, overlooking more inclusive skills, and possibly doing so in ways that are unethical or run afoul of ADA or the EEOC. Careful construction of a plan for cognitive testing is a necessity.

Personality tests – (Low to Moderate Validity/Moderately Predictive)

Personality tests measure characteristics such as attitudes, emotional adjustment, interests, interpersonal relations and motivation. The most popular personality test framework for candidate assessment is called the “Five Factor Model.” These are the five dimensions of personality that are consistently shown to affect performance and quality of hire: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness (to Experience), and Stress Tolerance.

Under the EEOC, employers may give psychological examinations to job applicants so long as the examination is not medical. However, a growing legal concern for employers using personality testing is privacy.

In addition to privacy concerns and the onus of securing any applicant data, other pitfalls of personality testing are the oversimplification of types and the phenomenon of mood-influenced responses that are thus not reliable.

One current trend is to replace self-reporting models with interactive “game-style” testing that claim more accurate results because the traits are observed in action as opposed to self-identified. For example, Pymetrics assessments are based on how the games are played.

Another popular tool, the Predictive Index, claims it overcomes limitations by allowing individuals to choose the words that best describe themselves as opposed to being limited by multiple-choice answers

When looking for solutions to the challenges of personality testing, look for systems that measure stable traits and have high reliability scores.

Trust the Testing:

Research by economists Mitchell Hoffman, Lisa B. Kahn, and Danielle Li found that even when companies conduct extensive testing, hiring managers often ignore test results—and when they do, they get worse hires. Likewise, psychologist Nathan Kuncel and colleagues discovered that even when hiring managers use objective criteria and tests, applying their own weights and judgment to those criteria leads them to pick worse candidates than if they had used a standard formula.

If you expend the effort to acquire and design pre-screening tests, trust the testing!

Do you need help filling a difficult position and screening for a high-yield applicant pool? Talk to Phoenix Partners.


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