Exciting Updates in HireSelect®!

Today we’re releasing a whole host of awesome updates in HireSelect, all designed to make your experience even more streamlined and user-friendly. The most obvious change is that we’ve given HireSelect a design facelift, and we’ve also added a number of really great new features that we think you’ll enjoy:

New and Improved Dashboard

We redesigned the Dashboard to give you easy access to the activities you do the most in HireSelect. See the latest testing activity, easily copy links to your test batteries, and quickly find and compare the results for your most recent job postings. You can also view some of the latest updates in HireSelect or schedule a training session with one of our experts.

Dashboard Update

Streamlined Test Administration

Administering tests is now easier than ever on the new Administer Tests tab. Here you can administer tests in two different ways – by using testing links or by scheduling tests manually. You can still administer tests in the same ways you did before, but we’ve restructured the page to make the process more intuitive. To view the new page, head to the Administer Tests tab.

Administer Tests Update

Resume Viewer: A Game-Changing Feature!

The Resume Viewer streamlines the way that you view all of your candidates’ resumes. With this new feature, you can now select one or more resumes and search them for important keywords. From the Resume Viewer, you can view all the relevant information associated with that candidate, including their test scores and the workflow statuses associated with them. You can also download and print the resume, rate the candidate, and add additional notes. And if you have a HireSelect Pro account, you can email the candidate directly from the viewer.

To use the Resume Viewer, go to the main Results page, check the boxes next to the resumes you want to view, and then click the Resume Viewer tab in the blue box on the right.

Resume Viewer Update

New FAQs and Help Section

We’ve just added a new FAQs section where you can find answers to a lot of your questions about HireSelect. Find the FAQs under the new Help tab.

We also created a new page under the Help tab called HireSelect Updates where we’ll regularly add information about any of the new updates we put out in the future. Check back to this section to catch any updates you may have missed!

FAQs Update

We know change can be intimidating, and we’re here to help! As always, feel free to reach out to your Account Manager if you need a quick walk-through of any of the new functionalities in HireSelect.


What Our Data Says About the Gender Wage Gap

The wage gap between men and women is well-documented, and there’s much debate about the reasons behind the oft-cited statistic that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.  One common explanation for the wage gap is that it is, at least in part, affected by the types of jobs and industries that men and women choose for their careers. So we decided to dig into our own data to find out what jobs men and women were actually applying to the most.

As a pre-employment testing company, hundreds of thousands of job seekers take our pre-employment tests each year. This data provides us with insight into the types of jobs for which people apply. Here’s what we found:

Jobs by Gender Graphic

The two lists have notable similarities and differences. Customer service representatives take the top position for both genders, while retail sales fill the fifth position. Not surprisingly, the list for men skews toward more physically demanding jobs, such as laborers, team assemblers, and maintenance workers.

In contrast, women were more likely to apply for service-oriented jobs such as nursing aides, administrative assistants, tellers, accounting clerks, and office clerks. Men also tended to apply for roles working with computers while women were more likely to apply for organizational, financial, or managerial roles.

Again, none of this is very surprising, and the lists seem to conform to many of the assumptions we anecdotally make about the jobs that men and women choose.

What’s interesting is that when we compute a simple average of the expected national salaries for each list based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for the men’s list is $42,897 while the average salary for the women’s list is $35,811.

This calculation is a very rough estimate of the salary potential for the jobs that men and women are applying for. It doesn’t capture the number of jobs available in these positions, nor does it represent the number of people of each gender currently working in these positions. Rather, it represents the average salary for the jobs that men and women apply for the most.

What can be interpreted from this data? If anything, it confirms the idea that there is a wage gap, and that this wage gap may in part be influenced by the jobs that men and women apply for. This has broader societal implications about what types of jobs men and women are encouraged to seek, as well as the monetary value we place on different types of labor.  And none of this should distract us from the fact that there’s abundant evidence that women are paid less than men when they perform the same jobs.

Ultimately, there are likely to be many reasons behind why the wage gap exists, including discrimination, family responsibilities, and access to certain career paths and promotion tracks. Our data reveals that the division of jobs by gender is also a contributing factor; jobs predominantly done by women tend on average to pay less than jobs done predominantly by men. Nevertheless, the wage gap remains a complicated issue and more research is required to discern more of its underlying causes.

To Find the Best Talent, Look Within

Different jobs call for different abilities. A well-known best practice for hiring people is to perform a thorough job requirements analysis that documents which skills and abilities are necessary for the job. But when it comes to discovering exactly which qualities best predict job success for a particular role at your organization, knowing where to start can be a challenge.

Pre-employment tests can help with this process: in fact, one of the best strategies to find the right talent for your team is by first testing your current employees.

The technical term for this process is a local validity study, which is essentially a way to measure how successful a pre-employment test is at predicting success for a particular role in a specific organization. It’s a “local” study because it focuses in on your organization. And because most professionally developed pre-employment tests are already extensively validated, local validity studies serve as an extra layer of validity providing immediate insight into the value of the test for your particular company.

So how exactly does a local validity study work in practice? Let’s imagine you’re hiring sales executives who will be responsible for selling a fairly complex product.  Cognitive aptitude tests and personality tests are a common choice for this type of position, so you administer the two tests to your existing sales executives. Next you would compare your employees’ test scores on both tests with a measure of their job performance to make sure the test scores correlate with the business outcomes you value, and to identify any specific qualities that are most predictive of success.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but there are a few key things to remember when conducting a study like this. First, you need to be able to administer the test to a decent sample of people in order for your findings to have statistical merit. The bigger the sample size the better; you’re unlikely to come up with any statistically significant finding unless the sample is at least 25 people, and preferably more.

Second, if you’re going to be comparing your employees’ test scores with their performance, you have to have in place a way to meaningfully measure performance within your organization. This can include anything from performance ratings to sales numbers, as long as management can agree internally that these performance metrics are accurate. If you can’t trust your performance metrics, you can’t trust the study. 

Speaking of performance metrics, you need to have some range in performance ratings in order to see meaningful results. For example, if your chosen metric is an employee rating out of 5, and every employee received somewhere between 4 and 5, it will be difficult to see any correlation when the range of performance is so narrow. This is a classic example of what statisticians call a range restriction problem.

To get the best results in a local validity study, it’s recommended that you test a wide sample of employees in the position you’re hiring for, not just top performers. At first glance, it makes sense to only test the best employees so that you can directly identify the attributes you want in your candidates. But if you don’t test your mid to low performers, you won’t actually know for sure that your top performers would have scored higher than them on the test. Performing the study with all of your employees in that position gives you a clearer window into the test’s association with job performance.

Your current team is a powerful resource. Harnessing that resource can help you uncover the skills and abilities to search for when growing your team. Administering tests to your current employees before you begin searching for candidates allows you to better understand your team’s strengths and to construct blueprints for future hires.

When Hiring, How Important is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is a hot topic in HR lately and, at face value, it seems like an attribute that every great employee should have. But how do you define and measure emotional intelligence well enough to seek it out in your job candidates?

The answer is not so simple. Much of the ambiguity stems from competing definitions of what emotional intelligence is in the first place. There are two main models of emotional intelligence (EI), one based on abilities and another based on traits.

The ability model posits that people vary in their ability to process and think about emotions, and that this ability can be measured through adaptive behaviors. These behaviors include perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions, which this model measures through emotion-based problem solving tasks.

In contrast, the trait-based model measures EI through people’s self-perceived emotional abilities. EI tests that use this model require individuals to self-report their personality/behaviors based on prompts, similar to the way that many established personality tests assess individuals. There’s also a third “mixed” model popularized by Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, which is a combination of the ability and traits model. While there are pros and cons to each model, there is no general consensus within the scientific community about which one is more accurate.

To complicate things further, the research linking emotional intelligence to job performance shows very mixed results. One meta-analysis of dozens of studies on EI and the workplace concluded that the results so far are inconsistent. Noted psychologist Adam Grant, himself a fan of the new emphasis on emotional intelligence research, recently argued that the evidence does not yet support the use of EI tests to inform hiring decisions. In comparison, tests of cognitive aptitude (or traditional intelligence) are consistently shown to be much more predictive of performance than emotional intelligence.

This is not to say that emotional intelligence isn’t valuable in the workplace. Much of what we perceive EI to be may actually overlap with other more established measures. For instance, some evidence shows that EI may be linked to some traits commonly measured in personality tests, including agreeableness and openness, although the extent of those relationships vary from study to study. What’s more, EI is shown to be positively correlated with cognitive aptitude, suggesting that some components of EI may be encompassed within traditional intelligence.

But many questions still remain: How can we measure EI in a way that is predictive of job performance? What relationship does EI have to cognitive aptitude? What relationship does EI have to personality?

Here at Criteria, we think emotional intelligence is a really exciting frontier for research. While a lot of fascinating work is being done to uncover the link between emotional intelligence and workplace performance, the current research isn’t quite strong enough for us to recommend using it as a factor for making hiring decisions.

So while for now there might not be a well-validated EI test for hiring purposes, there are ways you can approximate emotional intelligence through other more predictive factors. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing what future research has to tell us about emotional intelligence and the workplace.

Structured vs. Unstructured Interviews: The Verdict

For most employers, interviews continue to be a pivotal factor in the hiring process despite mounting evidence that interviews can be incredibly unreliable for predicting job success. One study found that impressions made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could impact the interview’s outcome; another study suggested that employers hire people that they like the most on a personal level; and research has consistently demonstrated that unstructured interviews are one of the worst predictors for job performance.

Despite all this, ditching the interview altogether is probably not a good solution. The reason is the key difference between unstructured and structured interviews. Unstructured interviews lack defined questions and unfold organically through conversation. It’s easily apparent how unstructured interviews can lead to bias when the “success” of the interview is dependent on natural chemistry or common interests.

In contrast, structured interviews consist of defined, standardized questions designed to efficiently determine if the candidate is up for the job at hand. By standardizing the interview process for all candidates, structured interviews minimize bias so that employers can focus on the factors that will have a direct impact on job performance.  At face value, structured interviews are more useful for predicting job performance, and it shows in the data. Structured interviews are almost twice as predictive of job performance as unstructured interviews.

So why aren’t more people exclusively using structured interviews? One of the biggest obstacles may be how difficult it is to actually plan and write a structured interview in the first place. Constructing a format for a structured interview can be time-consuming, requiring careful thought and a little bit of trial and error. Structured interviews can also feel awkward and stiff for candidates.

While establishing a structured interview process may be a challenge, it’s still a worthy goal. The data consistently reaffirms that unstructured interviews are significantly less predictive than structured interviews. Unstructured interviews also increase your chances of introducing more bias into the process. If your goal is to hire the candidates who are most likely to succeed on the job, then structured interviews are the way to go.

4 Tips for Improving the Candidate Experience

The hiring process is a two-way street. While candidates have to put their best foot forward to impress potential employers, companies also need to make themselves as appealing as possible to attract the best talent. Most recruiters agree that we’re now in a candidate-driven market, which means that candidates have more power to be choosy.

This places more pressure on employers to improve their “employer brand” – according to a 2016 LinkedIn survey on recruiting trends, 59% of the respondents said they were planning to invest more in their employer brand than in the previous year.

One critical aspect of employer brand is candidate experience. How a candidate is treated through the hiring process can affect the number and quality of candidates you receive in the future. Now, not only can candidates share their experiences with their acquaintances, but they can also post candid reviews about the company on sites such as Glassdoor.

Here are some tips for making sure your candidate experience is the best that it can be:

  1. Communicate clearly. Provide your candidates with all the information they need to understand your company and the role. This starts with a clear and detailed job description that signals not only what the position entails but also what sort of company culture you have. Communication is also invaluable during the process itself. Respect the time and effort that candidates put into the application process by promptly communicating where they are in the process or what is expected of them.

    Transparent communication is shockingly rare: a 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of employers don’t let candidates know how long the application or interview process will take. This lack of communication isn’t going unnoticed by candidates. Candidates in that same survey said that they received a response to their applications only 40% of the time, and only 14% of candidates felt that companies were responsive to them.
  2. Don’t make them jump through hoops. Your goal is to get enough information to make an informed hiring decision without making the process burdensome to the candidate. Endless interviews or extra requests for time-consuming work samples may deter some candidates from applying. However, the amount of time and effort put into hiring will vary based on the level of the position. The hiring process for an entry-level position is generally much less intensive than the process for hiring a manager or VP.
  3. Keep the process brief and efficient. One way to snag the top talent is by keeping the entire length of the process as brief as possible. Candidates who are actively looking for a job are probably applying and interviewing with other companies, and they may be swayed to pick an earlier offer. Dragging out the hiring process could cause you to lose your top candidates to the competition.
  4. Be flexible. A lot of people applying to jobs are already employed full-time. When scheduling interviews, try to be flexible with scheduling. If you need to request additional information or work samples, give them ample time to provide it. And of course, be clear and transparent about the entire process.

As a pre-employment testing company, we advise employers to also incorporate all of these strategies into their testing process. When you administer tests, it’s important to communicate to candidates why they are being asked to take a test and what the next step in the process will be. To keep the process burden-free for candidates, we recommend administering no more than 40-45 minutes of tests so that candidates don’t get burnt out or discouraged. And it’s also ideal to allow candidates to complete the assessments at a time and place that is most convenient for them, ideally by administering tests online.

All of these strategies make the hiring process a little less stressful for candidates and bolster your employer brand.

When Hiring, General Abilities Predict Success Better Than Specific Skills

How can you tell if your job applicants have what it takes to succeed in a particular position? There are so many factors that go into a hiring decision, and resumes can only tell you so much. Resumes are notoriously unreliable, with research suggesting that up to 78% of resumes contain misleading statements, while 46% contain actual lies. Similarly, your candidates’ work experience and educational background aren’t a guarantee that they possess critical thinking skills or problem solving ability, and these factors have been shown to be poor predictors of future job performance. Sometimes the best way to dig deeper into what your candidates can actually do is by testing their abilities.

When it comes to pre-employment tests, how do you decide which tests to choose or, more importantly, what abilities to test for in the first place? There are a lot of different types of tests, but most tests fall into one of two basic categories: general or specific.

General tests include cognitive aptitude tests and a lot of personality tests. At their core, general tests assess broad or innate abilities or characteristics that provide insight into a candidate’s potential for success. Alternatively, specific tests are, well, specific. They test specific skills that a candidate has picked up through education or work experience, such as typing speed or familiarity with Microsoft Excel.

In essence, the main difference between general and specific tests is that general tests measure potential, while specific tests measure acquired skills that candidates have already learned. It’s the classic dichotomy between aptitude and achievement.

As it turns out, general tests (cognitive aptitude tests in particular) are much better at predicting overall job success than specific skills tests. This is because general tests measure core abilities such as critical thinking, learning ability, and problem solving skills, all of which have an impact on how well an employee is able to adapt and thrive in a new position. One meta-analysis – or  summation of numerous studies done in this field – even found that cognitive aptitude tests were three times as predictive as job experience and over four times as predictive as education level.

General personality tests also have a lot of predictive value, particularly when they measure conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is a trait that is consistently correlated with job success because it indicates how goal-oriented, self-disciplined, and dependable an individual will be.

In contrast, specific tests tend to be less predictive of long-term success. While a specific test of “microskills” – such as a test on a particular programming language or a test assessing data entry skills – can help you find out if your candidate already knows how to perform a certain task, research shows that they do not tend to be great predictors of overall performance in the long-term. A general skills test that measures broader job-readiness competencies is an exception to this rule, but microskills tests typically only assess one limited part of the role. They do not assess a person’s ability to learn new skills, or adapt and grow as an organization or job evolves.  A general aptitude or personality test sheds light on that candidate’s long-term potential.

And because general tests measure broad abilities that are critical to success in many positions, they are predictive for a wide range of job roles. Both general and specific tests do have value when it comes to finding the right candidate, but using a more general test as your primary assessment, possibly in combination with a secondary skills test, is the best strategy for uncovering the candidates who are most likely to succeed.

Why is Measuring Quality of Hire So Difficult?

Amidst all the buzz over the advent of “big data,” HR departments are increasingly focused on using data to improve their talent acquisition strategies.  In our particular business—developing pre-employment assessments used by businesses to help inform their hiring decisions—we are seeing an increasing willingness on the part of employers to adopt evidence-based hiring tools.  The goal of all this is simple: better hiring results, or in other words, improvements in quality of hire (QoH).

There is widespread consensus about this: in a recent LinkedIn survey on recruiting trends in 2016, talent leaders cited quality of hire as the most important metric for tracking success in the recruiting process. Another finding, while not surprising, highlighted a central challenge that hiring managers face: only a third of the respondents felt that their methodologies for measuring quality of hire were strong.

It’s difficult to uncover what parts of the recruitment process are working without a metric for measuring job success once a person is hired. While tracking some QoH-related measures—such as retention—is relatively straightforward, getting to a unified performance metric that summarizes whether someone is a good hire or not can be very difficult.

We encounter this problem often when doing local validity studies, which are essentially a way to analyze how successful a pre-employment test is at predicting success for a particular role in a specific organization.  The typical process for doing these studies is to administer the tests to a group of employees—customer service reps, for example—and then to compare the test results to the employees’ performance metrics. By tying your employees’ pre-hire test scores to their eventual work performance, you gain insight into how predictive and effective your employee selection criteria is. This can give credence to your current tactics or help you identify ways to improve your recruitment process.

One problem that often arises with local validity studies is when companies don’t have meaningful performance metrics in place. Alternatively, they may be able to provide performance metrics, but have little confidence that the metrics reflect who top performers are, or can’t agree internally as to the appropriateness and accuracy of those metrics. This presents a huge problem: how can you predict what you don’t measure, or don’t measure accurately?  The CEO of Hogan Assessments, a competitor of ours, expressed the problem well when he wrote that using data-driven hiring techniques without tracking quality of hire is “the equivalent of investing a great deal of money in weather forecasts without subsequently paying attention to the actual weather.”

So whether quality of hire metrics come from supervisor performance ratings, tangible business metrics (such as sales volume or customer satisfaction ratings), retention rates, or some combination thereof, it is important to invest time in coming up with performance metrics that measure something meaningful and that all stakeholders agree represent something real. Absent this, there is no point in spending time trying to predict who will be a good hire if you can’t agree on a definition of success once the hire is made.

Can Aptitude Tests Be Used to Predict Bad Behavior?

We’ve previously written about the use of the Wonderlic aptitude test on NFL draft prospects, pointing out that the popular press and NFL fans as a whole have often unfairly dismissed aptitude tests as irrelevant to future gridiron success. This seems to be based on jock stereotypes about the sport and on a misunderstanding of how tests, and predictive tools in general, work.  Virtually every article about the Wonderlic test at the NFL draft mentions Dan Marino, who bombed the Wonderlic and went on to a Hall of Fame career, as evidence that the tests aren’t predictive of success in football. However, this type of anecdotal evidence clearly holds no weight when statistically determining whether or not a test works.

We’ve argued, for example, that there may be more of a correlation between Wonderlic scores of NFL quarterbacks and their future performance than is supposed. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that the evidence for the predictive power of the Wonderlic in the NFL is mixed. This is not surprising, because while the modern NFL game is quite complex and requires quick decision-making skills—especially from quarterbacks—it is clear that so many of the determinants of success in the NFL have to do with athleticism, work ethic, and other things aptitude tests can’t measure.

Recently, CBS Sports published a story about a new analysis of the links between Wonderlic scores and the subsequent fates of the NFLers who took it (and yes, it does contain the obligatory mention of Dan Marino). This one had a very different focus, however, because instead of examining on-field performance, the study looked at the relationship between Wonderlic scores and the arrest records of NFL players. The results of the study, which appeared in the American Journal of Applied Psychology, were striking; players with below average Wonderlic scores were twice as likely to be subsequently arrested as those who scored above the mean.

This is the first time we’ve seen a study that links low Wonderlic test scores to what the study calls “off-duty deviance,” or ODD, which may be our new favorite psychological term (“you down with ODD? yeah you know me.”)  Employers trying to prevent discipline-related problems in the workplace often use integrity/honesty tests or behavioral risk assessments that measure rule adherence or personality traits like conscientiousness that are linked to good behavior. Such tests have been shown to help prevent a wide variety of counterproductive work behaviors such as safety violations, absenteeism, illicit drug use, theft and fraud.  Aptitude tests, however, are more commonly used to predict overall performance, not who will constitute a behavioral risk.

But the new Wonderlic study is actually not the only sign of a possible link between intelligence and honesty.  The Washington Post recently reported on an Israeli study that seemed to link intelligence with honesty and truth-telling behavior. The study asked participants to enter a booth, roll a six-sided die, and report the number that came up to receive that amount of money instantly (if you roll a 4, you get $4, etc.). What they found was that those who scored lower on an intelligence test were far more likely to lie about rolling a six.

The implications of this study remain to be seen, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there seems to be growing evidence of a link between cognitive aptitude (intelligence) and other qualities that are typically thought to be purely behavioral or personality-driven. We expect to see a lot of future psychological research take on questions such as these, and we’re excited to see where the data lands!

Why Math Skills Are So Important in the Workplace

You’re forgiven if you didn’t know it was Math Awareness Month, but there are a lot of reasons why everyone should be more aware of the important role math plays in the workplace and in our everyday lives. With more and more evidence that Americans are falling behind in math ability compared to other developed nations, math ability is, in the United States at least, a gravely undervalued commodity.

You may think back to all the trigonometry you learned in school and point out that most jobs will never require you to find the cosine of an angle. But math skills are about much more than all the minutiae you were taught in school. Math skills – particularly numeracy and numerical problem solving – are not only fundamentally important to everyday job functions but also are a strong indicator of broader cognitive abilities. And because cognitive aptitude is one of the most predictive factors of job success, testing your candidates’ math abilities is a great way to assess their ability to succeed on the job.

Math and numerical problem solving are a part of most cognitive ability tests. This is partly because math problems aren’t simply measuring math skills; they’re also measuring critical thinking, problem solving, and logic. So even though you may be hiring for a position that doesn’t “require” math skills, measuring your candidates’ basic numeracy skills often has implications for their ability to solve problems in the workplace.

You might also think that testing math ability is unnecessary in the modern age because we have access to computers and calculators that can perform more complicated math functions for us. While we do have nearly constant access to computers, they can’t do all the work for us if we don’t fundamentally understand the math we need them to perform.

If anything, math abilities are more important than ever with the rise of big data. Companies are relying more and more on data to guide their decisions, and employees who can analyze and interpret data in ways that inspire actionable decisions are extremely valuable. Even employees who may not work directly with data are at a disadvantage if they can’t understand what the data is conveying on a basic level.

Mathematical prowess is an extremely critical, chronically overlooked ability. Math skills are associated with broader cognitive abilities, and they are reflective of a candidate’s critical thinking and problem solving ability. Yes, a lot of the math we learned in school doesn’t end up being all that relevant for the majority of us, but basic numeracy is unavoidable in everyday life, and those who do avoid it are at a fundamental disadvantage. And for employers seeking critical thinkers and problem solvers, aptitude tests that measure math skills are a great way to gain insight into your candidates’ abilities.