Like most people who work in assessments, I belong to a number of LinkedIn groups related to selection, I/O psychology, and the like. Other than graduate students looking for internships, probably the most common query involves someone posting a rather vague question looking for assessment recommendations like “My organization is hiring first-line managers. So what’s the best test to use?” Two rather predictable things tend to happen next. First, a host of assessment vendors will immediately pipe up and offer whatever their company happens to sell as the definitive solution to the questioner’s needs. Second, another set of commenters will quickly chime in and respond (often, but not always, professionally) that making such recommendations without knowing much, if anything, about the position in question is both irresponsible and not likely to be very effective.
Since I work for an assessment company, I understand my colleagues’ motivations for touting their wares but my sympathies lie with the posters who say “Wait a minute! We don’t even know what we need to assess.” Assessments are tools that can help us to answer questions about job candidates…. their strengths, weaknesses, cognitive abilities, and the probability of their being successful on the job. However, until we can fully appreciate the qualities that a candidate requires in order to be successful, we are not in a position to reasonably recommend one assessment over another.
When clients approach us, the most critical step is to first come to understand the questions that need to be answered about candidates for the position at hand. In other words, recommending an assessment needs to come at the end of the discussion, not the beginning. And while I don’t endorse unprofessional behavior, I sympathize with my colleagues who impatiently say “Hey, wait a minute!” when one of these discussion ensues.