Archive for May, 2011

Rocket-Hire is 10: Reflections on a decade of testing

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We are very excited to announce our Tenth anniversary!!!  That’s right, through good times and bad we at Rocket-Hire continue to work hard to promote the benefits of best practices based screening and assessment programs.  For testing geeks like us, the past decade has seen some very very exciting innovations.  It is easy to lose the forest for the trees, as our daily efforts to implement assessment often keep us focused on the issues that still hold us back. In reflecting on the past decade as a thought leader for the assessment world, I have worked hard to refocus on the big picture and zooming out to the treetops has presented a view that is extremely positive and encouraging.  This vantage has reminded me that we have seen some quantum leaps in the testing game that have made the use of pre-employment screening and assessment an even bigger value add then ever.  Here is a quick review of the big picture when it comes to innovation and progress in our industry over the past decade.

#1: Test usage has crossed a major plateau- Ten years ago the testing industry was in total plateau mode.  Uptake was at the same level as it had been for decades with a handful of firms, mostly test publishers and consulting firms offering administratively heavy tests in two modes.  Ten years ago one could either buy a test off the shelf and drop it in place, sometimes doing validation work to support its use or sometimes not; or one could hire a consulting firm to do an expensive local validation study using their own content.  These options and the universal truth that testing required a good deal of resources to administer and manage, cost a butt load of money, and provided a cold war-sih icky feel to those taking the tests; served to really keep testing down.  We are way past all this now!!  Test uptake and the available revenue from selling tests has skyrocketed based solely on our friend, technology.  This technology enabled shift is the #1 big picture trend in the past decade.  This shift has been facilitated by several other important trends (discussed below).

#2: Data shows us the truth- Ease of administration and increased uptake have allowed us to capture millions of data points.  This information has greatly accelerated our understanding of what job performance is and how to accurately measure it.  We really do know how to accurately measure the traits that drive important work outcomes such as customer service and how to predict which applicants are most likely to achieve these outcomes.  This knowledge serves as the basis for increasing speed and accuracy in testing.

#3: Methods of demonstrating validity are changing- Please note, I am not saying that the concept of validity itself is changing.  I am saying that we have increasingly powerful tools to help us configure job relevant assessment content for local situations (thanks to Trend #2-above).  Most vendors have begun to bake a good deal of flexibility into the process and tools used to configure assessment content, building on the data they have harvested and then allowing end users to lightly customize their specific measurement model.  In a way this is the holy grail for validity as we begin to see criterion, content, and transportation of validity strategies merge to show us what content is correct for a given situation.  Isn’t this kinda what Landy (1986) was talking about when he rejected stamp collecting in favor of identifying ways to show how the rubber meets the road when it comes to showing a relationship between predictor and criterion space?

#4: Remote, unproctored testing is here to stay- Like it or not, there is no way to beat the convenience of remote testing.  I have served on more panels then I can remember on this topic over the past decade and all have reached the same conclusion, we do not have any strong evidence that remote testing is a problem.  This does not mean we can ignore the fact that we need to be vigilent.  Again, technology is our friend as we enter the age of IRT driven adaptive testing and increasing security tools such as bio-metrics.  The interesting thing in the decade to come will be the acceptance for remote testing via smart phones.  The jury is still out on this one.

#5: Candidate experience is becoming a key driver- A decade ago it was still common to see 2 and 3 hundred item long tests that asked question with no perceptible link to the job performance domain.  This is no longer the case as we begin to explore ways to increase simulations and games that make the assessment experience transparent and can easily be woven into employee branding.  This will be one of the most significant trends over the next decade as we begin to put the radio buttons of decades old personality tests in the rear view mirror.  If nothing else, the next generation of job applicants will begin to demand this type of treatment, and I really believe that this population is going to begin the redefinition of terms like “job” and “career” forcing us to adapt our hiring and assessment processes.

#6: Assessment is becoming an integral part of the employee lifecycle- We continue to see progress (albeit slow) towards a more unified vision of what talent is and how it fits within the organization.  Assessment has long been used as a tool for succession planning and development.  But there has been no continuity with the information collected during the hiring process.  Most of this time this info is basically industrial waste, going down the drain and taking value with it.  The rise of a talent management mindset has started to help promote a more strategic focus that covers the entire employee lifecycle.

All of the trends above have combined to open the door for increasing levels of value from assessment based on new levels of efficiency and effectiveness.  I encourage our readers to take a moment to reflect on just how far we have come.  Don’t even get me started talking about what we can expect to see in the next decade.  Almost daily I am seeing testing firms leveraging cool new technologies to help meet the end goal of providing realistic, accurate and efficient ways to predict applicant performance.   Just prepare to have your mind blown wide open.  The strong forward march of technology is going to make all aspects of our lives extremely interesting (and maybe a bit scary?).

Enhanced by Zemanta

SHL/PreVisor’s Global Assessment Trends Report: The latest word on testing

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Every year I really look forward to reading SHL/PreVisor’s assessment trends report. It is an excellent compliment to our own work in trying to get a handle on how pre-employment assessment is used.  This type of information helps all of us to understand the current state of the art for best practices around assessment, showing us how far we have come and how far we have to go.  This year’s report is chock-full of great info about how testing and assessment is used across the globe.  Rather than parrot back details you can read for yourself, I want to highlight a few trends that I find interesting and which are consistent with my own work as an assessment analyst.  Most of the things I find interesting have to do with disconnects between what companies are saying they value and the actions they are using to prove it.

Finding 1: Hiring is coming back!  We have all been seeing evidence of this trend and PreVisor’s data shows that firm indicate that they have more open positions this year than last, and that they anticipate retaining employees will become increasingly harder. To me this means assessment will be more valuable then ever since there will be more applicants for every open position, the ideal situation for assessment’s value prop to shine.

Finding 2: A majority of respondents use some form of testing or assessment and feel it is a valuable part of the hiring process but few are evaluating the value they add.  This is directly in-line with our research indicating a huge disconnect in the fundamental foundation driving the use of testing.  Without proper ROI evaluation, testing will continue to fall well short of its potential.  Companies are also failing to measure applicant reactions despite indicating that they are important.

Finding 3: Remote testing is here to stay.  Despite concerns about security and differences in effectiveness, remote testing is simply too efficient and will not be going away anytime soon. While the use of mobile devices for testing is predictably low, we cannot deny that remote access is king.

Finding 4: A wide variety of tools are in use, and help cover the entire funnel.  There are tons of options for screening and assessment and most of them seem to have a place and time where they are most effective.  Firms considering using testing should take the time to create a strategy that collects useful predictive data down the entire funnel.  Unfortunately few companies take this mindset, instead choosing to slap a testing band-aid on gaping wounds.

Finding 5: While employee development and succession planning are seen as important, few companies have strategies to leverage these tools for increasing performance.  Again this is a huge disconnect and we wonder if companies realize the value assessment can have in helping to create an effective strategy for measuring employee performance.  PreVisor has coined a new phrase “People Intelligence” to describe the idea of measuring and evaluating individual characteristics pre and post hire, and using this information strategically, to optimize the alignment between persons and jobs.

Let’s hope that organizations can learn to be more “people intelligent” and begin to see the big picture.

I strongly suggest that anyone interested in the issues discussed here, download a copy of PreVisor’s excellent report.