Pass or Fail? Employee Testing vs. Employee Assessments – Part 1

A thought occurred to me last week after a meeting with one of our clients — why don’t more organizations use employee assessments?

Here at ExactHire, we use and promote the use of assessment tools for many employee issues. Among those uses are hiring, team building, succession planning and 360 degree feedback for performance reviews.

Then it hit me…most people (and therefore organizations) see these tools as “tests”, not assessments. Tests mean I either pass or fail, right? Flashbacks to high school and college cram sessions start to dance in your head. The knot in your stomach you had when opening your report card becomes a very vivid memory. Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of true employment “tests” out there. For those positions where one needs to have proficiency in particular areas (technology skills, proficiency with tools & machinery, etc.), tests can be very appropriate.

However, for most positions in most organizations, “tests” are not applicable. But, assessments are. Why?

When hiring or promoting people, organizations want things to work. So do the people involved. Who wants to take a new job or be promoted to a new job where they don’t enjoy it? Everyone involved wants the same thing…job fit. Simply put, get the right people in the right positions to achieve maximum efficiency.

Where these processes fall down is that they involve people. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that assessments replace the human element involved in hiring/promoting people. I am suggesting, however, that very few of us are good enough at judging others to consistently make good decisions in these areas. This leads to hires & promotions that regularly either don’t work well (at best) or are outright failures (at worst).

As you can probably gather from my remarks to this point, we are big believers in using employee assessments to improve the odds of making better decisions when hiring or promoting people. In my next post, I’ll take you through a recent client experience where many of the employees who took part in an assessment pilot initially felt they were being “tested” vs. assessed. What we saw with them may interest you as well. Read Part 2!

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