ABC’s of Hiring #33 – How to Use Assessment Tests in Your Hiring Process

Assessment tests can help any employer decide which candidates are the most qualified for a specific job as well as provide coaching and mentoring opportunities post-hire.

Assessment tools provide managers a more in-depth read on the individual seeking employment and go beyond the typical means of analysis to highlight candidate qualities that might not be evident during a more basic interview process. These tools are not a substitute for interviewing and should not be used for “screening out” a candidate but rather serve as confirmation of what you have learned about the candidate.

In our recent ABC’s of Hiring #32, we addressed The Six Q’s Every Job Seeker Needs to Stand Out from the Competition. Assessment tests help you measure each of the six Q’s.


 Every employer realizes that losing an employee is costly. Estimates for replacing valued performers can reach more than two times the employee’s salary. Assessment testing can improve fair hiring practices by standardizing the hiring process. Testing, when properly created and validated, should treat all applicants in the same, non-subjective manner and should not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or age.

Types of Tests Commercially Available

To start, the hiring manager must know not only the requirements of the job they are looking to fill, but also the qualifications and attributes that will lead to success. This knowledge is the base line for any of the tests. Not every assessment tool will measure only one attribute but more typically a combination of qualities.


  • Personality tests – measures CQ: Cultural Quotient and PQ: Passion Quotient

Personality tests measure specific candidate personality traits tied to successful performance in the job for which the candidate has applied. Common traits tested for include extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, loyalty, commitment and “fire in the belly”. The information is then used to evaluate their potential fit within the organization. Be aware that personality tests may cause some candidates to answer questions in an untruthful manner to try to make a favorable impression on their prospective employer.


  • Integrity tests – measures CRQ: Courage Quotient

Integrity tests investigate a candidate’s truthfulness, strength of conviction and trustworthiness, and can be a measure of overall job performance. Test questions generally focus on a candidate’s past behaviors related to ethics or on interests and preferences. The answers provided are used to predict future behavior and determine whether the candidate may be prone to unscrupulous actions in the workplace. Candidates who score low on integrity tests raise a major red flag and are apt to be less productive.


  • Emotional intelligence tests – measures EQ: Emotional Intelligence Quotient

Emotional intelligence tests measure an individual’s ability to identify, control and assess emotions.

Such tests are especially good at predicting job performance when team work, listening skills and interpersonal savvy are important to their success on the job.


  • Aptitude tests – measures IQ: Smarts and Critical Thinking Skills

An aptitude test measures a candidate’s ability to acquire a skill or do a particular type of work. Aptitude tests help an employer determine the candidate’s potential to learn and grow into the job.


  • Cognitive tests – measures IQ: Smarts and Critical Thinking Skills

Cognitive tests assess abilities related to thinking, such as reasoning, memory, perception, mathematic ability, problem solving and reading comprehension. Cognitive tests have been demonstrated to effectively predict job performance, especially for more complex positions.


  • Behavioral tests – measures IMQ: Improvisation Quotient

Behavioral tests are used to predict how a candidate will react in given situations. These tests use the candidate’s past behavior to predict future behavior, and can help determine the cultural fit between a candidate and the company.
Critical Factors

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the specific test that will be used.


  1. How is the test structured? Is it user friendly?

It should be easy to read, with clear directions and a reasonable and manageable length.


  1. Does it comply with the legal requirements for validity?

Properly administered, assessments can help keep a company’s hiring process legally compliant. Equal employment opportunity laws require that the test is job-related and consistent with business necessity and this must be validated There are two aspects to validation: content and criteria. In order to establish content validity, the necessary characteristics for job performance must be documented. Establishing criteria validity requires a more in-depth statistical evaluation of the relationship between successful job performance and the selection measures. Never administer your own company developed tests without checking for legal compliance and validation of the test to avoid violation of laws regarding discrimination.


  1. How is the test introduced into the hiring process?

The way an assessment is integrated into the hiring process and presented to the candidate is incredibly important. Always provide a heads-up to the candidate before forwarding a test. Equally important, explain why the test is relevant to the position.

Some test types, such as emotional intelligence and integrity tests, may include questions that candidates feel are intrusive. They are less likely to find offense with, or be confused by, this type of questioning if it is made clear why the test is being administered and that the test is indeed relevant to success in the position.


  1. When is the appropriate time to introduce the test?

Tests should never be the first experience that a candidate has with your company. That is far too impersonal and off-putting. The ideal timing is after an interview when you have decided to learn more about the candidate and are considering an offer of employment.

The best employers will provide the test results to the individual being tested.


 Assessment tests must be validated to be non-discriminatory and then can be used to complement your hiring process. Select the tests which provide the best insight into the attributes needed in the position. Use the results for further probing with a follow-up interview or by checking references. Optimizing your selection process utilizing assessment tests should avoid surprises and provide insight into any developmental needs the new employee may have.

Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for over 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.


Best Regards,


Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates


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