a Test That's Fair
Choosing the right test can be like choosing the right
consultant — it requires that you do your homework first.
- Before shopping for a test, figure out what criteria or
behaviors are necessary in the job to be filled.
- Look for a test that measures those criteria.
- Assess the tests. You'll need to:
- know if the test was designed and validated for
- determine whether a test taker can "cheat"
on the test
- see the technical manual describing the research
establishing the test's reliability and validity
- have the test reviewed by your attorney
How do you validate a test? Studying a test to
determine whether it actually evaluates what it purports to and
whether it is useful as a predictor of job performance is known
as "validation." Validation is usually reserved for
tests that must be proven not to be discriminatory, i.e., if
your business has at least 15 employees or you're covered by state
There are a number of ways to validate a test.
- One is to give the test to current employees. Do the best
employees have the best scores? If they do, the test may be
valid to use on job applicants. This is known as concurrent
- A second method, predictive validation, is to give the
test to applicants but not to use the scores in making
hiring decisions. Later, rate these new employees on their
job performance. Are the ones who scored highest on the test
now doing the best job? If so, the test may be valid to use
on applicants in the future.
Do all tests have to be validated? Those tests that
screen out a disproportionately high number of minorities,
women, or any other protected
group must be proven to be a good predictor of job
Moreover, to meet fair employment requirements, each test
must be validated for each job.
An industry-wide validation study proving
that a test predicts success at welding does not
relieve an individual employer who uses that
test from its responsibility to validate the
test for its own welding positions.
Also, a test validated for one location
doesn't mean it is automatically validated for
other facilities of the same company.
You cannot defend your selection procedures by pointing out
that acceptable numbers of minorities and women are being hired
and promoted overall. It does not mean that the tests are valid.
Since validation can be complicated, you may want to hire a
consultant to help you through this process.