Archive for February, 2010

Webcast Preview: Top 5 Assessment Innovations for 2010

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I am honored to have been asked to team up with my friend and colleague Ken Lahti of PreVisor to conduct a webcast about innovations in pre-employment assessment.  I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about the newest trends and what they mean for the long-term future of assessment to join us for the webcast.

Here is a preview of the top 5 innovations we will be discussing:

Evolution of technology platforms- Many assessment vendors are now offering a technology platform that greatly adds to the usability of assessments.  These platforms provide the ability to quickly configure assessments, manage applicants through the hiring process and provide flexible reports to help support good decision-making.   These platforms have the most benefits for small to medium sized businesses because they provide access to many of the functions previously available only to enterprise level users.  Today’s assessment platforms also support easy integration with other systems, allowing users increased flexibility.  This trend is an important because it reinforces the fact that assessment is not always just about “a test”.  The ability to configure, manage, and interpret tests is also essential to the success of any testing program.

Off the shelf tests- The past decade has seen a huge increase in the amount of assessments that have been given and as a result we have unprecedented amounts of data about what assessments work in what situations.  This has allowed test providers to create a new generation of off the shelf tests that are more accurate then ever.  In the past, using an off the shelf test meant that you may end up missing some important constructs and measuring others that were not relevant.  Today’s off the shelf tests, while still general in nature, are able to provide excellent information about a candidate’s potential for specific types of jobs (i.e., customer service, sales).  These tests have also made quality testing more accessible to small and medium sized businesses.

Improved security- Test security has been a hot button issue since the start of Internet testing.  There are legitimate concerns about remote, un-proctored testing that have definitely limited the uptake of testing.  Despite this research and practice show that security is not seriously compromising the effectiveness of testing.  More good news here- many vendors have begun to offer solutions that greatly reduce the risks involved with remote testing.  The best amongst these utilize advanced computer adaptive testing techniques to ensure that every test is slightly different but provides equal measurement results.  Advances in biometrics will allow for increased ability to ensure that the test taker is actually who they say they are.  Remote testing may never be fully secure but advanced strategies for test security will continue to help provide piece of mind for those using remote testing.

Better simulations- Simulations have always been an excellent way to provide test takers with a realistic assessment experience while also measuring ability to perform a specific job.  The future is very bright when it comes to simulations but there are still significant barriers to be overcome.  Simulations are expensive to create and they are still relatively basic.  It will take new technologies and innovative thinking to create simulations that can realistically approximate a real job.  The exception here is call centers where some really great simulation products are readily available.  Another type of simulation that is really strong is the on-line in-basket.  These exercises measure how well a candidate can communicate, solve problems, and interpret information by simulating a real work environment.

Integration with broader talent strategy- Assessment is slowly moving away from its academic and clinical roots towards a more business focused future.  The most significant force in this regard is the ability to link assessment results directly to business outcomes and to other people-related functions within the organization.  This has traditionally been a challenge because of the extra time and effort required to set up measurement systems and a lack of strategic vision around the value of assessment.  The change in mindset is happening, but has proven to be unfolding slowly.  An increasing number of vendors are working to create products and systems that are focused on bottom line results and on integrating assessment into the bigger picture.  I believe we are really at the tip of the iceburg when it comes to this trend.

On-line assessment is really only about a decade old and looking back, we have come a really long way in a short time.  The next decade is going to bring some changes that I feel represent quantum leaps forward and the issues discussed here.