Posted March 25, 2014 by

Validating Your Candidate Testing by Past Results Monitoring

Job candidates taking tests at an assessment center

Job candidates taking tests at an assessment center. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The importance of candidate testing in the process of employee recruitment has become increasingly important. As more online jobs become available, and HR recruiting becomes more prevalent, it will become increasingly important to increase the validity of such tests. How do we do this?

In schools, testing is considered valid if it tests what it is supposed to test and reliable if it tests at different intervals with similar results. So one way to test both the validity and reliability of test results is to view former results and compare them. This not only will tell us a lot about how tests fared from one year to another, but it also offers a chance to scrutinize the test in more detail and decide which items to throw out.

In general, there are a few ways to know when to discard test items:

  1. When the item no longer tests what it is supposed to test. For example, if, in the past,  you asked candidates what type of equipment they could operate the best, but no mobile devices are mentioned, that test items should be thrown out. This is because there are more mobile devices now than there were when the test item was created. So the item no longer tests what it is supposed to test-the perceived ability of the candidate to operate various devices.
  2. When the item becomes biased toward or against a certain group. If minority groups are not considered in the test item and it gives other groups an unfair advantage, the item should be thrown out.
  3. When the test in general takes too long to complete. A test should be a reasonable assessment of abilities, personality traits, and skills. If it takes too long to complete, it may start becoming less valid due to the fact that good candidates may bail out of the test too soon, leave a test unscoreable, or otherwise threaten its validity.
  4. When the test has a high number of inflated scores, or lowered scores. This is a sign that the test is either too easy or too hard and it should be rethought.
  5. When candidates who passed the test did not work out. This is the ultimate questions HR staff should ask when trying to determine whether or not the test is valid and reliable. After all, this why you do candidate testing-to see if the applicants fit the job, and to screen out those who do not. If the test is not doing this, then it has not passed the most basic screening component for which it was intended, which is to determine who is the best fit for the job.

All tests should be occasionally checked for validity, to determine the degree to which the test measures what it is supposed to measure. This can be done by checking old test questions, and reviewing specific types of questions, as well as the results of former test administrations.

Cezar Floroiu
Founder of Skillmeter

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