Lean Consulting and Training


Pre-employment Testing Question

Dear Sirs,

We are currently looking at ways to improve our applicant screening process. The Director of HR has recommended a test to measure math and reading abilities. I am a first line supervisor and have little experience in recruiting but still feel unsure about using the test to screen applicants. Any advice you can offer will be appreciated.

Anonymous Submission : Posted with consent

First of all, without having sufficient data on your situation I can only offer limited advice. Your situation will require retaining the services of a consultant to fully resolve the issue. However, it is safe to say that recruiting and screening practices can easily be picked apart by attorneys resulting in painful lawsuits. If you administer any type of testing for the purpose of screening candidates you must be able to prove that what you are testing for is absolutely required in order for a person to perform the job. You must have sufficient data to support the reason for testing. Additionally the test can not result in adverse impact or disparate treatment. Reading and math tests are famous for unfairly eliminating certain groups of people. Statistically it is proven that certain groups of people tend to score higher on math tests. This does not necessarily mean that a person with lower scores on a math test will not be able to perform a job as well as anyone else. So, why use this test? Is there sufficient documentation of data that proves beyond a doubt that candidates with lower math scores will be incapable of performing in your organization? Better yet, if one has low scores on this test can they not be trained to perform? A court will look at this as well. If a person can be trained at a cost that the court determines is reasonable to the organization you will be under a microscope if you screen out a trainable candidate. The same goes with the reading test; but with an added twist. In how many languages do you plan to offer the reading test? The disadvantages are numerous. Unless you have statistically and legally justified the need for any test you are much better off to avoid the test. Legal and effective screening processes require the assistance of a consultant and should then be reviewed by an attorney. It is a very in-depth process and selection tools can not simply be pulled out of a hat in hopes that they will accurately predict performance. For now, drop the test. There is a very good chance you are setting yourself up for a legal battle. The cost of such a legal battle will by far exceed the cost of bringing in a professional to assist in this matter. Regardless of which consulting firm you prefer, be sure to bring in a professional. At the very least your Director of Human Resources should consult with an attorney. An attorney may or may not be able to help you develop a selection process; but they will at least be able to inform you of which practices are best avoided. We will be glad to assist you. Please contact us if you need further assistance.



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