Not All Assessment Tools Are Created Equal

I’ve read some interesting articles lately by well-meaning (and, sadly, in some cases misguided) writers and bloggers who warn against using behavioral assessments, and they are correct – to a point. Some assessments can reveal some of the protected classes, such as gender, race or age. Any business that truly wants to understand and hire rock stars needs to use an assessment such as the Predictive Index (PI) that is designed to be in compliance with EEOC standards (US located businesses), one that will provide an objective profile of each position in the organization and truly help you, the end user, find the ideal candidate.

When you are considering using an assessment in your workplace, you need to determine why. Really dig down and analyze what it is your organization is looking to accomplish. Are you trying to reduce turnover? Improve manager performance? Increase productivity or engagement? Drive sales up or drive accidents down? Are you identifying future leaders? There are any number of ways in which assessments can help a company meet those strategic objectives.

assessmentAfter you understand the big picture goals, then you need to do the due diligence to ensure you are selecting a tool that aligns with those objectives. It’s not as easy as it seems. For example, as you are looking for a pre-hire tool, you must read the FAQ page and/or their research, and be mindful of any caveats or an asterisk that says “not designed for selection” . You need to ensure that you use an assessment that is designed for selection, and in the US, to be compliant with EEOC guidelines. With PI, you get an assessment that lives throughout the entire employee lifecycle – from hire to retire.

There are other things you want to consider when investigating an assessment tool. For instance, you want to make sure it’s easy to use. Some assessments take an hour. Some ask seemingly random or just plain odd questions that cause the candidate stress or worry. The idea with using an assessment is to understand a person’s unique behavioral strengths, not to torture them or freak them out.  The PI is a free-choice (as opposed to forced-choice) survey where individuals select adjectives that best describe them. It only takes about 10 minutes to complete and it’s available in 67 languages (literally from Afrikaans to Zulu) including Braille. The PI reveals the best way to understand what truly motivates a person, how to best communicate with them and most importantly, the best ways to keep them productive (improved job satisfaction is a common additional benefit).

Make sure an assessment gives results that are easy for your managers to understand and use. If not, be prepared to lose those good hires. Poor managers who don’t know how to work with their people actually drive them away. Case in point, I recently had lunch with a friend and HR expert who has a client that was using an assessment tool in a way that was, well, let’s just say not the smartest. In fact, they were using this assessment in a way that was frankly hindering business, not helping. Further, with PI, client companies don’t rely on their consultant to come in and do the heavy lifting. PI takes the “teach a man to fish” approach. The PI Management Workshop teaches managers how to not only read and use the PI, but to develop best practices around the decision-making, communication and delegation styles of their people by applying PI data to actual work experiences.

You need key performance indicators to help define the ideal attributes for a role and then conduct fit/gap analysis. PI allows you to compare your candidates’ responses against the target behavioral pattern for the job. PI then teaches managers behavioral interviewing techniques to truly understand how the candidate will perform. Post-hire, PI teaches coaching and provides coaching guides to help those managers get the best and highest performance out of their people every day.

You also want an assessment that is customizable for each position in your company and can then  be used in conjunction with the assessment of the individual. With the PI, companies not only use the assessment of the individual, they also have PI’s job analysis tool, the PRO, to objectively establish the desired behavioral requirements of any job in the organization.

Finally, ask for case studies that demonstrate not only if the tool is valid, but that is statistically tied to performance. In other words, you don’t just want to assess someone, you want to ensure that those behaviors will predict success. The PI has more than 500 criterion-related validity studies, which predict job performance across a wide range of jobs and industries.


Behavioral Assessments Drive Results

  • Decide which metrics you want to improve
  • Choose a tool that has proven success in that area
  • Make sure you can customize the target pattern to your culture
  • Ensure that it is EEOC compliant
  • Use it as a pre-interview screen to get the best results

DollybigDolly Penland is a business adviser and speaker with Predictive Results who works with organizations helping them to hire and manage their talent to their highest potential. Penland specializes in multiple areas including helping businesses grow sales, reduce turnover and develop leaders.

She can be reached at (904) 374 9914 or

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