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Choosing the Right Assessment Provider

Erin Iafelice

There has never been a more advantageous time to use pre-hire assessments in talent acquisition. With the flood of candidates in the market in 2020, recruiting teams need more effective ways to identify and engage high-potential new hires quickly. With the advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, AI-powered pre-hire assessments can do more than ever to reduce bias, provide more in-depth insight into hiring patterns, and improve hiring outcomes. Organizations that use pre-hire assessments gain a measurable hiring advantage when choosing the right assessment provider.

If your organization uses outdated assessments or new to the employment market, one of your first steps will be to evaluate the assessments and vendors in the market. The following questions for vendors can get you started on the path to choosing the right assessment provider.

How are your assessments developed?

We’re in the era of big data, but it’s not enough to focus solely on analytics to develop assessments. Leading assessment providers build their assessments on the discipline and principles of industrial-organizational psychology (I-O), and integrate analytics to uncover intricate patterns in the incoming data. A theoretical understanding of what drives human behavior should be guiding what that incoming data represents. The assessment provider’s development team should also have comprehensive expertise in the areas of talent selection science, candidate experience, diversity and fairness, and employment law to ensure the assessments will uncover the most qualified candidates in an unbiased manner.

How is AI integrated into your assessments? 

This is a critical question in choosing the right assessment provider. AI is being applied to assessments in various ways, and some of these practices are known to be unreliable and potentially unfair. That can expose your organization to harm and damage your candidates’ hiring experiences with you. 

Look for transparency with AI. The provider should be willing to share their AI methods and describe those methods in plain language. They should explain what data is collected, how it is collected, and what it is proven to predict. Data scientists are part of the development team at today’s leading assessment providers to expertly ingrate data science, advanced analytics, and the practical application of ethical AI into their product. 

How are your assessments validated?

Assessment providers should show multiple scientific studies to validate their pre-employment tests over time. This validation is critical for your buying decision: It helps ensure the assessment provider you choose will deliver the business value you expect in terms of predicting candidates’ on-the-job performance and turnover risk.

How do you ensure that your assessments are fair?

Assessment providers should be transparent in showing how their methodologies reduce bias and mitigate protected-class adverse impact. The use of state-of-the-art AI techniques, enough of the right type of data, and frequent monitoring can help ensure pre-hire assessments are fair. Keep in mind too that candidates’ perceptions of fairness of your hiring process are critical. Look for an assessment provider that limits the information being evaluated only to that which candidates knowingly provide, and discloses to candidates how their data is evaluated and used.

 What evidence can you provide about the bottom-line business value of your assessments? 

Ask for case studies, and look for measurable results. By predicting candidates’ future job performance and turnover risk, the assessment provider should be able to show it has helped its customers to

  • achieve specific dollar cost savings through improved retention
  • increase new-hire productivity by a specific percent
  • improve job-specific performance results, such as increased sales revenue

If you are considering a provider that’s integrated their assessments in an enterprise hiring platform, look for measurable hiring process-oriented results too, such as improved recruiter efficiency, increased speed to hire, and reduction in the interview-to-hire ratio.

Can your assessments be customized for my organization? 

It’s an important question, and it leads to another question for your team: Does your organization need customized assessments? Modern Hire has developed ready-to-implement pre-employment assessments for more than 60 job families based on millions of data points from millions upon millions of candidate interactions. We’ve found that while you can build custom data sets for an employer, you don’t always have to.

According to Modern Hire Chief Science Officer Mike Hudy, “When you’re interviewing on customer service, you can ask customer service questions 50 different ways and look across many organizations…the key behaviors that define what good customer service…is a common theme.… We’re tuning [our assessment models] against millions and millions of data points to define what “good” looks like. You could argue that data is more powerful than if I have a small sample size in my organization only. [We’re] leveraging millions and millions of data points across industries to pick up on what defines good customer service.”  See Mike’s interview on ZDNet.  

That said, some organizations prefer to deploy custom assessments that predict not only candidates’ future job-specific performance, but their future job-specific performance within that specific organization. If this is a direction your organization wants to explore, ask assessment providers about their prior experience and measurable results in developing custom assessments.