Criteria's Employee Testing Blog

Criteria Corp Now Integrates with Greenhouse

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Greenhouse! Greenhouse is an applicant tracking system designed to help you make more data-driven hiring decisions across the whole recruitment process. Our partnership with Greenhouse means that you will now be able to seamlessly integrate Criteria Corp’s testing platform with your Greenhouse account. Streamline your hiring process by administering tests and viewing candidate test results all within the Greenhouse system.

Want to learn more?  Check out this post on the Greenhouse blog about the integration process to find out how the partnership makes it easy to merge Criteria’s test results into Greenhouse’s streamlined recruiting platform.

Tagged , , , , , , Leave a comment

Hiring Fail: The Humor in Hiring the Wrong Person

All employers can remember a time when they hired the wrong person for the job. The hiring process is both art and science, and it’s impossible to get it right every time. Adding pre-employment tests into your hiring arsenal can help you increase your hiring success rate and reduce the occurrence of what we like to call “hiring fails.” We know how much of a pain point these hiring fails can be for recruiters and hiring managers alike, so we made a video to poke fun at the comedic side of a hire gone wrong. Enjoy!

Tagged , , , , 2 Comments

Credit checks for job candidates are losing favor as hiring criteria

Using credit checks as a factor in the hiring process has always been controversial. According to data from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 47% of employers in the U.S. run credit checks on potential hires.  Critics argue that using credit checks on candidates is discriminatory by unfairly filtering out people who are struggling financially. The thinking goes that, in order to repair their credit, job seekers need jobs, but eliminating candidates based on bad credit makes this much more difficult. More importantly, there is no evidence that credit checks relate to job performance in the first place. The result: employers cannot prove a credit check adheres to the rule of “job-relatedness,” which is required for any factor used in hiring decisions.

With this in mind, New York City recently passed legislation banning most employers from using credit checks to discriminate against job applicants or current employees. Brad Lander, the bill’s sponsor, calls the new legislation “a civil rights bill,” and it seems likely that more cities will follow New York City’s example. If background credit checks for job candidates continue to lose support across the country, employers will likely stop using them in the hiring process. Overall, this is a positive development for recruiters because credit checks have little utility as a means of predicting future job performance, and frankly it’s about time they be discarded as a variable in making employee selection decisions. More predictive criteria, like pre-employment tests, can help fill the void: well validated and professionally developed employment tests are far more predictive of job performance, resulting in job-related and legally defensible tools for the employer that are less biased and fairer to job candidates.

Tagged , , , , , Leave a comment

How Much Testing is OK?

In the social media age, when a company’s employment brand is more important than ever, it’s a great idea for companies to always keep the issue of candidate perception in mind when implementing pre-employment testing. Given that the trend is increasingly towards testing early in the hiring process — as we discussed here and here — it’s important to consider the question of how much testing is appropriate when the tests are one of the first points of contact a candidate may have with your organization.

We analyzed a lot of data (about half a million tests) to help answer this question. As the graph below makes clear, candidates complete the tests much less frequently when the length of the test exceeds 40 minutes.

The completion rates for batteries less than 40 minutes in length always exceed 75%. If this seems low, consider that many candidates encounter the test through a link in a job posting, and may simply close the test window after deciding they don’t have the time, ability, or inclination to take the tests. If candidates won’t spend 20-30 minutes applying for a job, chances are they weren’t serious about working for your organization in the first place—we call this group “resume spammers.” Interestingly, this 75%+ completion rate is no different for a very short (less than ten minute) test than it is for a 30-40 minute test.

However, in cases where candidates are asked to take a test battery that is longer than 40 minutes, the completion rates are significantly lower: 66% for 41-60 minute tests, and 60% for tests lasting longer than an hour. It seems that the point at which “test fatigue” begins to discourage candidates can be pinpointed: it’s after 40 minutes. This is why we recommend that our customers keep test batteries under 40 minutes in length whenever possible. This is especially true for remote testing done early in the hiring process. It is impossible to know from the data, although it seems highly likely, that candidates will have higher completion rates for tests given on site, for several reasons—the main one being that if candidates perceive themselves to be under serious consideration for a job, they are much happier to spend a long time being assessed.

Leave a comment

The Secret to Google’s Hiring Revealed: Cognitive Ability

Last summer we reacted to an interview with Laszlo Bock at Google who seemed to say that tests scores and grades were useless predictors for hiring decisions. We said that what constitutes information for hiring purposes at Google may well differ from what constitutes information for hiring elsewhere, and we pointed out that validating a selection tool after it has been used, and only for those who were selected will typically yield lower estimates of the usefulness of that tool.

This week, in a widely read New York Times column, we get a more elaborated answer about Google’s hiring goals. What do they look for? Number 1, says Mr. Bock, is cognitive ability. Although Bock is quick to distinguish this from IQ — he sees it as demonstrating an ability to learn quickly — the fluid intelligence he’s trying to evaluate likely correlates well with traditional clinical, academic, and business oriented measures of cognitive ability. Bock is also looking for leadership and a sense of responsibility.

In short, Google is largely looking for the same things that organizational psychologists have been telling us for decades predict job performance — cognitive ability and personality. Measures of conscientiousness are often the second best predictor of job success (after cognitive ability). Other preferred aspects of personality will depend on the nature of the work and the workplace.

For any given selection process, those making decisions want predictive information. What constitutes predictive information will vary from setting to setting. For a company like Google, the composition of the applicant pool and the nature of the workplace might mean that certain traditional sources of information are less useful, and Google has the resources to invent a new, tailored interview process to gather new information. However, the underlying constructs they are looking at — cognitive ability and conscientiousness — are ones that pre-employment assessments have been highlighting for some time. Every organization must also deal with its own costs — what are the consequences of hiring the wrong person? What are the consequences of failing to hire a qualified person? We mostly think about the cost of hiring the wrong person (false positives), but there is also a cost to missing a diamond. Facebook paid $19 billion to buy what Brian Acton built (WhatsApp) 4 years after they didn’t hire him.
But even if they go about it differently, all companies are trying to maximize the information they have about the cognitive ability and character of the people they hire.

Tagged , , Leave a comment

How Can I Trust Test Scores From Remote Tests?

One of the most prominent trends we’re seeing with our customer base is the move to administer more tests remotely, towards the very beginning of the hiring process. As I’ve talked about previously, there are many advantages to administering tests offsite, mostly to do with the cost and time savings of using objective, reliable data to help you filter out unqualified applicants from large applicant pools. But one question that customers often raise is, “How can I trust test results from remote tests, when I can’t verify the identity of the applicant?” Well, unless you’re using a remote proctoring service (either human or web-cam based) you can’t be 100% sure a candidate took the test without outside help. But what we’ve found in working with customers is that if your messaging to candidates is well constructed, and you retest candidates onsite, you don’t need to worry about the reliability of offsite test results.

We recently did a study with one of our largest customers, who administers aptitude tests remotely at the front of their hiring process, and retests candidates later onsite, if they make it that far. What we found by looking at the data is that the likely percentage of people who didn’t take the test honestly (i.e., without outside help) offsite is actually very small, likely much less than 2% of the applicant pool. One reason this may have been the case is that when the employer sent candidates the invitation to take the test, it explicitly described its retesting policy. We really recommend employers do this, because it cuts down on any incentive applicants may have to cheat in the first place. If candidates will have to take a different version of the test onsite anyhow, they are only wasting their own time if they don’t take the test on their own the first time.

So a couple of important takeaways. Offsite cheating is not really a big problem, at least according to our data; and you can cut down on it further through proper messaging and by retesting onsite, with those candidates who make it that far.

Tagged , , , Leave a comment

What Are Integrity Tests?

Today’s topic is integrity tests; what are they and how should they be used?

Well, the term integrity tests is actually used to describe a couple of different types of tests, but they all help employers manage risk by assessing the likelihood that an applicant will be a reliable employee who will follow the rules. So as I said, there are two main types of integrity tests: covert (personality-based) tests that measure traits linked to rule adherence; and overt tests which assess an applicant’s attitudes towards various counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) directly. Some integrity tests, like our Workplace Productivity Profile (WPP), combine elements of both to predict employee reliability.

What most integrity tests focus on is an applicant’s tendencies and attitudes with respect to rule adherence. Because of this, the tests can be used to predict behavior with respect to a wide variety of counterproductive work behaviors that employers want to avoid, ranging from tardiness, absenteeism, and time-wasting, to theft, fraud, drug use, and safety violations. Integrity tests are generally most widely used and are most effective for entry-level positions for which overall reliability and rule-following is particularly important. Some of the more common uses of integrity tests in specific situations are:

  1. To reduce risk of employee theft, for example in retail sales
  2. In positions where employees will be working in customers’ homes, such as home health care aides and field service technicians
  3. In manufacturing settings to assess risk for safety violations

In all of these cases, integrity tests can serve as a risk management measure, as they will determine that certain applicants represent a higher risk of engaging in these behaviors based on their responses and personality profiles. Often, employers will use background checks pre-hire for these positions, but background checks are expensive and only target people who have committed crimes in the past. By using integrity tests early in the hiring process, employers can save time and costs and help to minimize risk with respect to avoiding workplace behaviors that damage their organization.

Tagged , , Leave a comment

Why Do Organizations Use Pre-Employment Tests?

As an employer trying to make informed hiring decisions, you obviously want to gather as much relevant information on candidates as possible. The problem is that traditional methods of getting to know candidates — resumes and interviews — often don’t yield much real insight. Resumes are notoriously unreliable, and interviews — especially unstructured ones — are subjective and poor predictors of job performance. On the other hand, properly developed (i.e., well validated) tests are a reliable and objective means of gathering job-related information on candidates. Research shows that cognitive aptitude tests, for example, are twice as predictive of job performance as interviews, and three times as effective as resumes.

So companies use pre-employment tests because they are an efficient, objective way to gather data that predict employee performance. They use this data to make better informed, more defensible hiring decisions. Tests are really about giving you better raw materials out of which to build your talent management process: getting better data on candidates will lead to better talent decisions.

So what are the results of all this in terms of tangible business impact? Well when we first speak with companies, HR professionals, and business owners, their stories are very different, but we often see two common pain points: organizations are spending way more time than they’d like on hiring, and yet despite this, they are still making more hiring mistakes than they can afford. Pre-employment tests can help directly with both of these: by dramatically reducing the time you spend reading resumes and doing interviews, pre-employment tests will help you reduce your time to hire and costs associated with hiring. And by giving you reliable, objective data that predict job performance, tests should help you increase your quality of hire and reduce the number of bad hires you make. The ultimate effect of this will be bottom line improvements like increased workforce productivity and reduced turnover.

Tagged , , , Leave a comment

What is Pre-Employment Testing?

Today I’m going to address the most basic question we get about pre-employment testing: What is it? What are pre-employment tests?

Pre-employment tests are an objective, standardized way of gathering data on candidates during your hiring process. All professionally developed, well-validated pre-employment tests have one thing in common: they are an efficient and reliable means of gaining insights into the capabilities and traits of prospective employees. There are many different types of tests, but they generally fall into three categories: aptitude, personality and skills tests.

Aptitude tests measure critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to learn, digest and apply new information. Since critical thinking skills are vital to so many jobs, aptitude tests can be used in almost any occupational context, but they are especially useful for mid and higher-level jobs. Because critical thinking and problem solving are crucial in so many jobs, it’s not surprising that research shows pretty unanimously that aptitude tests are the single best predictor of job performance.

Personality tests measure behavioral traits. So unlike with aptitude tests, there are no right or wrong answers on personality tests. They measure traits such as extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. Personality tests can be valuable indicators of job fit, can help you determine if a person’s behavioral tendencies are a good match from a job fit and culture fit perspective. They help answer questions such as: Will someone be comfortable in this position? Do they have behavioral traits that are linked to success in this role?

Skills tests measure job-related competencies; broad ones like verbal, math and communication skills, or narrow ones like typing and computer skills.

To maximize the effectiveness of pre-employment testing, it is a good idea to use more than one type of test. For example, it’s very common to test aptitude and personality, or skills and personality.

By using tests as an objective, reliable source of job-related data, you can streamline your hiring process and make more informed hiring decisions.

Leave a comment

Can a Candidate Be Too Qualified? Is Using a Max Score Cutoff Ever a Good Idea?

Last week we talked about using minimum cutoff scores to improve quality of hire and reduce time spent on hiring by allowing employers to quickly filter out applicants who lack the necessary capabilities for the job. Today we’re going to talk about a much less common and more controversial practice of using maximum score cutoffs. We generally do NOT recommend using maximum cutoff scores. That is, we do NOT recommend excluding someone because she scored too high on an aptitude test for example. The reason we don’t recommend this is that the science is just not clear enough on the benefits.

Why would anyone consider excluding someone for being too smart? The theory goes like this. Some testing companies believe that scoring above the expected range on an aptitude test can be an indicator that a person will be bored by a particular job and want to move on, and that higher aptitude people will also have more opportunities to find other jobs than will lower aptitude employees. Essentially, the idea is that whereas low scores signify that candidates are a risk for involuntary turnover — because they may not be trainable or able to perform well — extremely high scores can be an indicator of risk for voluntary turnover. But the evidence that overqualified employees represent a greater flight risk is not very strong, and in fact one recent study refutes it pretty convincingly. So we don’t generally recommend using max cutoff scores. However, a study we did for one of our larger customers showed that higher scoring candidates were more likely to leave, so if you can find similar trends at your organization, and if voluntary turnover is a big problem for your company or industry, it may be something to consider.

Tagged , , Leave a comment