10 Steps for Choosing an Assessment Firm

1. Make sure assessment results are being  interpreted by licensed/PhD Psychologists
Psychologists (particularly industrial/organizational, clinical and counseling) have training in test development, administration, interpretation and experience providing feedback. It is best to have licensed consultants. The firm should have at least one on staff who knows how to work with questionnaires.

2. Confirm that the assessments are valid and that the measures are reliable and have been tested over time
The testing industry is not really regulated, so anyone can put 10 questions on a website and say it is a great measure.  Ask for the technical reliability and validity research behind each test. You probably don’t want to read it, but at least you will know whether it exists. There are many excellent questionnaires that have many years of research behind them.

3. Verify that candidates will be given an assessment battery, versus a one-test solution
Most tests measure one thing well.  If the vendor tells you the test is comprehensive and does everything, then it probably does not measure them all very well.  The key things that measure success in a job are listed below in the order of how well they predict.  At entry levels, there may be one trait that is good enough (conscientiousness), but at higher levels, the jobs are complex and multiple areas should be measured.

1. Problem-Solving
2. Work Personality Traits
3. People/Influencing Personality Traits
4. Motivation
5. People/Task Management Style
6. Sales Style

4. Be wary of brief tests -  generally longer = more accurate
Most people do not like to even think about statistics.  But statistics tells us that the more examples we have of something, the more reliable the averages and other measures.  Tests are built on statistics, so the more questions, the more reliable the output becomes.  As a rule of thumb, the test should have about 15 or more questions for every trait it claims to measure.  So, if the test claims to measure 10 traits, then it should be around 150 questions (or more).  Some tests have even more questions, which often leads to very high levels of reliability.

5. Match test capabilities to organization/situation
It is critical to have a clear understanding of what you want the test to tell you.  In a selection assessment, it is critical to have an understanding of the job the person will fill (job analysis).  It is also important to understand the culture of the facility or company.

6. Evaluate the metrics
Make sure the assessment firm is collecting data to understand whether their process is giving accurate results.  This is critical to insure the assessment is not biased against particular groups (minority groups, women, etc.).  On a practical level, they should be invested in whether their assessment works.  There is a variety of data they can combine to understand this.  They should be pushing a validation study, rather than waiting for you to bring it up.

7. Determine the security of your data
Have your IT people check the safety of your data.  There are security issues in terms of access to your data.  There are also security issues in terms of back-up.  If you are a healthcare firm, the firm needs to meet additional HIPAA requirements.  Some assessment firms are small and have the data stored on a server in their office.

8. Establish that you will have access to your database
If the data is stored safely, do you still have access when you want it?  With the right system, the firm can secure your data and allow you access.  Also, if you decide to stop using an assessment vendor, how long will it take you to get your data?  Many assessment firms require several weeks to provide data and reports to new assessment vendors.  Remember, you own the data.

9. Be wary of professionals representing only one test company
Think about the professional tools your industry uses.  Each of your vendors tends to have one service/product that it does quite well.  Some vendors try to be all things to all people.  As a result, they may have one great product and many mediocre ones.  The assessment world is the same.  So, if your assessment firm is representing only one test producer, they probably do not have access to the best tests in the various areas that you want to measure.  Also, assessment firms that represent only one product line are making their living through that product.  So, they are not looking for the best solution for you, they are looking to sell more.

10. Confirm there are no hidden fees
Often, assessments may be priced lower on the surface.  Then the assessment report may not be completely clear, so the assessment firm charges extra to walk you through the results.


BONUS TIP - Make sure the “test” answers are not available on the internet

This may seem obvious, but since there are so many tests, many have been shared on the internet.