10 Questions to Ask To Select the Right Assessment Tools

Assessments can help you evaluate candidates, develop employees, and give you confidence and accuracy in the selection and development of talent that you depend on to make your company successful.

However, assessments come in many different forms, and not every assessment is right for every environment and circumstance.

Here are 10 questions to consider when selecting an assessment solution:

1. How will the data be used?

Each type of assessment addresses specific aspects of an individual. Behavioral assessments reveal data about people in their work environments, and personality assessments ascertain people’s personality types. Many behavioral assessments include a personality component, where the opposite is not always the case.

If you are considering an ice-breaker style workshop with a team full of new players, the personality assessments can help you better “know” each person and how to engage them.

A behavioral assessment is a deeper dive into how individuals will behave in the workplace, and how different styles can work together. These are often used as a pre-hire tool to determine a candidate’s likely fit with the culture of the organization.

In addition to these two, broad categories, there are skills assessments, which test knowledge of specific functions, and cognitive and work simulations which can predict the likely success of a person.

Decide which type of information would be most valuable to your organization.

2. Is the data reliable?

Validation is something to inquire about before a selection is made. Validation studies show how well the predicted behavior correlates to the actual behavior.

Good questions to consider asking the vendor and researching online are:

  • How many validity studies have been conducted?
  • Are employee’s scores consistent and repeatable over time?
  • Does the assessment effectively predict important workplace behaviors that drive metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction, or turnover? In other words, does the tool’s predictions accurately correspond to improved business outcomes?

In scientific terms, reliable data is repeatable over time and measures what it intends to measure. Be sure to inquire about scientific validity and reliability as well as what the assessment measures to ensure alignment with your company’s goals.

3. What is the pricing model?

There are different pricing models out there: subscription-based, pay-per-user, or pay-per-assessment. Determine what you’ll be using the assessment for and which pricing model is best for you.

Some providers may provide assessment results that can be analyzed as an employee develops. This may require you to deploy several assessments over the employee life-cycle, which may make pay-per models less attractive.

When it gets expensive, some companies limit themselves to only assess the C-suite or very senior management, at which point they are only gathering data on a small percentage of their workforce.

4. How long does it take to complete?

Assessments vary in length from five to 90 minutes to complete. Forced-choice tests tend to be longer. Consider your employees’ and candidates’ time when evaluating different options. In today’s talent-driven market, candidate/employee experience is crucial. Data accuracy and reliability doesn’t necessarily correspond to the length of the test, so understanding the output of the test results and how you plan to use them is critical.

Article Continues Below

5. How is the data gathered?

Tests can be either free choice or forced choice. Free choice means that the test takers select only what they feel applies to them, while forced choice gives a set number of answers and the testers are required to pick one.

Free choice assessments tend to offer a greater level of unbiased results, where forced choice assessment cannot always make that claim. Evaluate which format gives you the most useful and relevant data for what you are trying to achieve with the assessment. For instance, when using an assessment as a pre-hire instrument, the more unbiased the results, the better, especially when considering that it needs to be legally-defensible.

6. How are the assessment results presented?

Results of assessments can either be written in the form of a report or a more visual graphic, where data is presented in a quick snapshot that can be interpreted immediately. Some written-form outputs can be incredibly time consuming if you manage more than a handful of people. Consider the managers’ time to review the results. If the report is too lengthy, adoption and absorption of the information could be at risk.

7. What level of support is required?

Tests can be administered by someone certified within your organization or by the test company. Determine if the ability to administer and interpret test results within your company is a better fit for you. Also confirm that there’s ongoing support from the test vendor and that they understand your business challenges.

Using assessments in your organization is not enough — introducing assessments as part of a broader effort to affect change, provide clarity and remove unnecessary obstacles between you and your objectives, and increase employee engagement, will ensure impact on performance.

8. Is the assessment global?

If you have a global workforce, it’s important to be able to administer the test in an employee’s native language and have analyst support within your area. Verify that the assessments and results are available in all relevant languages. And ask about the validation of the assessment tool(s) specific to the local culture.

9. Can the data be used with groups and teams?

In addition to providing data about individual employees, some assessments can also give insights into group dynamics, which can be used to address group conflicts and evaluate performance. If group analysis is important, make sure the data is available for that use. Some tools allow you to compare two behavioral patterns, or even entire teams, to get a better understanding of what makes a top-performer in your organization.

10. Is the assessment EEOC compliant?

Standards organizations, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), provide compliance guidelines for different aspects of assessments. Ensure that the solution you choose is free of bias with respect to the respondent’s age, gender, and ethnic group.

If, as the saying goes, “All business problems are people problems,” then the need for people data has never been more critical than it is right now. If you can get the right people into the right job the rest is easy. Selecting and wisely using the best assessment tools can make a big difference in your organization and your business outcomes.

David B. Nast is CEO & managing partner of Nast Partners based in the Greater Philadelphia area. David is a Certified Workplace Behavioral Analyst and an award-winning Certified Business Coach with over 25 years of experience in human capital management, executive coaching, leadership development, talent management, training, change management, talent acquisition, career management, and executive search. 

For additional insights from David, visit his LinkedIn Pulse author pageand follow him on Twitter @DavidBNast. You can also email David at dave@nastpartners.com.

Topics