Choosing an Assessment Provider: Predicting Performance and Legal Responsibility

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Of all talent management tools available to organizations, hiring assessments typically draw the closest scrutiny and therefore, the most questions from potential Customers. One of the most basic questions is: “How do I know this assessment works?

The usual response to this question is to provide evidence showing higher assessment scores predict greater performance, or that the assessment is valid for use in that job. If you are looking at hiring assessments, you may also be concerned with the legal issues surrounding them. You may have heard of or been involved with a case involving an alleged unfair hiring practice and are eager to avoid a similar situation. So naturally, there is a follow-up: “Who is responsible if we are sued?” This question actually means: “Who is responsible for establishing that the test is valid? and “Who is writing the check if it isn’t?

The Legal Answer

The question above is not as easy to address as it first may seem. Legally, according to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures1 (binding employment regulations put forth by the U.S. Department of Labor), it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all hiring tools are valid. That is, the employer must be ready to show any selection measure, such as an interview or hiring assessment, is related to job performance. You are now probably thinking that the answer to the validity question is pretty straightforward: The employer is ultimately responsible.

There is, however, an ethical side to this question. At Corvirtus, we feel an ethical obligation to our Customers to ensure that the hiring tools provided are valid according to legal and professional guidelines. Our position is not based upon the letter of the law or even business practicality. We believe that protecting our Customers is the right thing to do.

What Does This Mean?

Hiring assessments are sometimes advertised as covering a wide range of job positions. Often times, generalized validity results are presented as evidence for the effectiveness of such hiring instruments. This means the evidence supporting your use of a hiring assessment could include a variety of job groups, occupations, companies, and positions. It may not reflect the unique demands of your job, the specific competencies required, or how your culture impacts job performance.

Off-the-shelf assessments may provide less legal protection when challenged. By themselves, a test publisher’s or consulting firm’s validity studies, done with other organizations’ data, cannot be a guarantee of adequate evidence of validity if an employer faces a legal challenge to an hiring assessment.

Our Approach

1. We intensely study the job.  We interview job incumbents, supervisors, and other stakeholders to create a competency model to select the most appropriate and job-related assessments.

2. We “test the tests” through validation studies to show that scores are related to measurable performance outcomes. This consists of gathering performance data (i.e., measures of performance that we intend to accurately measure using the items on the assessment) and linking it to scores on the assessment to demonstrate a relationship between the two. Whenever possible, we use your own employees during these studies to set performance benchmarks for each assessment.

3. We proactively monitor the assessments for adverse impact: we assess it and resolve it before it is an issue.

4. We work with our Customers to document all aspects of the hiring process should there ever be a legal challenge.

How was your hiring system developed?  Questions about best practices for hiring?  Leave us a comment here or contact us – we are eager to help you find a hiring solution that enables your success.

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