Scientific Screening: A Personal Assessment

Online screening has received a great deal of attention lately, and after a recent experience I had with it, I couldn’t help but chime in. As part of project with my employer, many of us were given the opportunity to take an actual assessment to see what the experience would be like for a candidate. Being a skeptic when it comes to personality assessments, I put off the task. Then I attended a company meeting at which there was great buzz about the surprisingly accurate results for those who had completed the assessment. Being open-minded, I decided to play along. The results were amazing! Upon completing the online assessment, I received a detailed narrative, which outlined personal characteristics, strengths, areas for development, and career advice. The feedback was astounding. Those closest to me laughed outloud as they read my report. My husband is still cracking jokes about it! But what did I gain from this experience, aside from the obvious dose of humility? What I learned is that online scientific screening tools can be quite effective. So what do you need to know to select a tool, and how can it impact your hiring initiatives? There are three important considerations when selecting a scientific screening tool:

  1. Understand the basis for assessment. In other words, is the tool based on years of research and validation? Confirm that the tool has a proven track record for accuracy in predicting performance and satisfaction on the job. Many tools have standard baseline measurements; you may also want to inquire as to whether or not custom assessments can be created to identify an even stronger match for you position and corporate environment.
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  3. Consider adverse impact. It is crucial that the chosen tool not discriminate based on age, sex or race. For example, the assessment tool I used was based on personality fit matching. Personality measures have been deemed acceptable by the Department of Justice. You will want to confirm that the scientific selection tool you choose is in full compliance with the standards and regulations set forth by the EEOC and other regulatory bodies governing the Human Resources industry.
  4. Ensure ease of interpretation. Are the results provided in a simple format that is easily understood by recruiters and hiring managers? Straightforward reporting makes it possible for anyone involved in the hiring process to understand results without any specific training. A simple format, such as a percentage, not only makes the results quick and easy to read, it also relieves the legal risk associated with misuse/misinterpretation of narrative data, while protecting the privacy of candidates.

What does this mean to the recruiter? The answer is simple. In years past, when the war for talent was at its peak, scientific screening could assist with hiring accuracy, therefore increasing job satisfaction and reducing turnover. The cost savings related to reduced turnover can be significant. But even in the current economy, with more people applying for jobs, the same assessment can assist with the efficiency and accuracy of the screening process. Again this can lead to tremendous cost savings for the organization. In terms of efficiency, the screening process can be streamlined for positions with high applicant volume. By using online scientific screening early in the game, the recruiter than spend valuable time with those identified as most likely to succeed in the role, with the added bonus of reducing costly hiring mistakes. Finally, one question that consistently arises when discussing scientific screening is, “How will it be perceived by the applicant?” Applicant concerns here are confidentiality, time commitment, and value. A credible vendor will guarantee confidentiality to the applicant?? for example, by providing a numeric score rather than a detailed narrative. The assessment I took was very quick. It only took 20 minutes, and the narrative results I received were solid, providing an added value. Finally, as the use of online scientific screening continues to grow, ask your applicant tracking vendor if they have a tool integrated into the system. Carefully evaluate any potential vendor using the items discussed here and you will see results. This one-time-skeptic turned believer sure got a reality check!

Kimberly Bedore ( is a consultant and public speaker who develops and implements staffing solutions for clients, resulting in increased efficiencies and significant cost savings. She uses her wide range of recruiting experience to provide companies with a wealth of information related to sourcing and sourcing strategies, recruitment training, and the implementation of solutions and metrics that enable a higher degree of staffing effectiveness.


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