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Is Effective Selection Art or Science? The case for multi-measure recruitment assessments

When recruiting a large number of individuals at any one time, it is common for an HR organisation to consider using recruitment assessments. Typical recruitment assessments are applied either singly, in pairs, or in whole batteries to assess ability/skills or aptitude.

Occupational psychologists use several criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of selection tools. Any measurement tool can be evaluated in terms of its validity. For assessments, we are interested in criterion validity. In the organisational context, we primarily want to know how effective a tool predicts an individual’s ability in a particular work-related competence. However, other work-related criteria such as length of time in a job (tenure) or ability to complete a training course can also be used.

Validity statistics provide a correlation coefficient ranging from 1, where, in simple terms, we might say the tool provides perfect prediction, to 0, indicating no correlation or predictability.

Here is what HBR said about the correlation coefficient for various assessment methods.

Extensive research has been done on various hiring methods and measures to predict job performance. A seminal work in this area is Frank Schmidt’s meta-analysis of a century’s worth of workplace productivity data, first published in 1998 and recently updated. The table below shows the predictive validity of some commonly used selection practices, sorted from most effective to least effective, according to his latest analysis that was shared at the Personnel Testing Counsel Metropolitan Washington chapter meeting.

So, suppose your hiring process relies primarily on interviews, reference checks, and personality tests. In that case, you are choosing to use a significantly less effective approach than it could be if more effective measures were incorporated.

As the name suggests, multi-measure tests involve deploying different types of assessments to get a better and rounded view of candidates’ abilities. Multi-measure tests offer the recruiters flexibility to design their assessments to precisely measure the skills & behaviours they seek in the candidate. A typical multi-measure test for a salesperson can be a strong interest profile, aptitude test, situation response assessment and work situation responses (through one-way video-recorded questions). If the role demands, other assessments that simulate specific work behaviours (like customer interaction or product demonstration) can also be included in the evaluation.

At work, behaviour produces results if appropriate or causes problems if it’s inappropriate. At work, behaviour is observable. We see people taking an interest in a customer and hearing them ask, for instance, an open question. We also see the results of these behaviours. It is behaviour that produces a response from others, whether that response is a smile, agreement, a counter-argument, a proposal or whatever. We exercise control over behaviour and something that we can modify and adapt to fit the situation. We behave in a way that can help us achieve a positive result in a situation or, if we choose the wrong behaviour, no result at all.

Relying on only personality tests + interview makes the recruiter miss out on opportunities to simulate the environment that will make candidates show the behaviour they generally bring to work. Assessments relying on situation responses and video recorded answers enable recruiters to understand, analyse and use the information to make better recruiting decisions.

Smartlist allows recruiters to create multi-measure tests with ease. Recruiters can choose from a set of ready-to-use assessments or create their own. Sharing assessments with candidates and analysing/scoring candidate responses is very easy. Using multi-measure tests as the filter to identify the suitable candidates before the final interview helps ensure you get a better candidate pool going into the final selection stage.

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