4 Tips to Best Use Assessments for Hiring

You can use these tests to help you to determine how individuals think and solve problems, their behavioral preferences, values, ethics and what natural aptitudes they possess.

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By Doug and Polly White

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small-business owners often ask us whether they can use assessments to make hiring decisions. The short answer is yes. You can use assessments to help you determine who to hire. As usual with employment practices, there are a few caveats to mention.

First, if you are going to use assessmentsm, make sure they are scientifically "reliable" and "validated." This is necessary to ensure that the assessment meets the requirements set forth by the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commisssion, as well as statues such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are not sure about a particular assessment, ask the person supplying the product or seek out a knowledgeable employment attorney or human resources practitioner.

Related: What to Look For When Hiring Your First Employees

Second, you should never choose or eliminate a candidate based solely on the results of an assessment. Rather, the assessment should provide one piece of the puzzle.

The more interesting question is "should I use assessments." Personally, we are fans of several assessments and believe employers can use them in a variety of ways to enhance everything from hiring to employee development and team building. You can use assessments to help you to determine how individuals think and solve problems, their behavioral preferences, values, ethics and what natural aptitudes they possess.

However, this is an article about using assessments in hiring, so let's take a quick look at some do's and don'ts of using assessments in this employment process:

1. Determine the type of assessment.

As mentioned above, there are a tremendous number of assessments available. Some measure behavioral style while others measure a person's ability to deal with stress and change. First, determine what you want to measure. Don't use an assessment just because it is well known or it is pops up first on the Internet. A bit of research may help you to find a great product for your particular situation.

2. Carefully read the assessment descriptions.

For instance, extroversion as defined by the Myers Briggs Type Inventory: "Getting your energy from active involvement in events and a lot of outside activity and people." This is different from extroversion as defined in the Big 5 assessment: "Characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and excitability." Make sure you understand what the assessment measures.

Related: The Licorice Test and Other Unconventional Tips for Hiring

3. Know what you need.

You must know what you are looking for in the perfect candidate. For instance, you might want to measure outgoingness. However, depending on whether you want a salesperson who will spend most his or her time interacting with others or an analyst who will spend much of his or her time working independently, the ideal hire will look very different.

A behavioral assessment is only helpful if you understand what behaviors would be successful in that particular job. Do your homework and develop a profile for the job you are trying to fill.

4. Determine patterns.

If you have employees currently in this position, have them take the assessment to see if there are any patterns. This can be helpful in determining if the assessment gives you results that make sense. As you continue to use a particular assessment you will continue to see paterns emerge.

Assessments can provide decision-makers with another source of data during the all-important hiring process. Yes, we would encourage you to use assessments. However, make sure you use a legal product that measures what you want to measure. Do your homework. If you do, assessments can be a valuable tool.

Related: 3 Ways to Be Constantly Recruiting Star Talent Through Social Media

Doug and Polly White

Entrepreneurs, Small Business Experts, Consultants, Speakers

Doug and Polly White are small business experts, speakers and consultants who work with entrepreneurs through Whitestone Partners. They are also co-authors of the book Let Go to GROW, which focuses on growing your business.

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