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Nov 08, 2017 | 4 Minute Read

10 Common Misconceptions About Assessments

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“Assessments are like big brother getting inside my head; they scare me,” says George. “Why do I need to conduct an assessment; I know my own strengths and weaknesses,” says Dina. “I don’t want to give any personal information to a company that may or may not hire me,” says Brenda.

What’s the chances that George, Dina and Brenda work in a job for a company they do not like?

The word assessment can be a very misunderstood term. The word itself generates a wide array of responses, that can range across the board. While this noun is defined as “the evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something,” not everyone is clear on the value that assessments provide for an individual, a team and a company. Below we look at some common misconceptions about assessments and set the story straight on why assessments are such a valuable tool for companies trying to assemble the best possible teams.

  1. All assessments are created equal. This falsehood is similar to saying that all cars are built the same. While an owner of a Mercedes-Benz might have a hard time trading in their ride in exchange for a Yugo, the same disparity exists in the assessment world. It’s important to work with a company that dives deep to tell a thorough story about the person being assessed. And, it’s important that reliability be proven to validate the assessments usefulness.

  2. All assessments measure the same thing. While many companies provide assessments that measure behaviors, assessments run the gamut from basic surface information to telling a complete story about an individual. It’s important to go deep and uncover as many insights as possible. If you are going to go through the process of learning about yourself or your current or potential employees, wouldn’t you want the most thorough assessments you can find? Why paint half of a picture when you can complete a masterpiece?

  3. An assessment is a test. While a test and an assessment may both evaluate, a test is a measure of knowledge while an assessment is an estimation of the nature, quality or ability of someone. With a test you have right or wrong answers. In an assessment, it’s all about perspective and difference; there are no right or wrong answers. Each person is unique and it’s entirely ok to have different answers than other people. A person can learn more about themselves, specifically things such as "how" and "why" they do what they do.

  4. Taking an assessment is time consuming. On the contrary! Depending on what assessment a            person is taking, time spent answering questions may range from five to ten minutes in length. You do not need a lengthy test to uncover dramatic insights from within a person, you just need to ask the right questions. A good assessment can accomplish this and can be finished by the time you finish a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

  5. Assessments are guesses about a person. A good assessment will be a very accurate representation of a person. This is true because each person provides his or her own information. So except for the rare instance when a person doesn’t take the questions seriously, answering questions to the best of a person’s ability will produce a very accurate picture of this person’s behaviors and motivators.

  6. The assessment is the end all. Any assessment is the equivalent to a handyman’s tool box. It’s one of many options to help complete a job. So much can be learned through assessments such as a person’s predictive behavior, what motivates them to do what they do, their emotional intelligence or acumen. The more assessments a person takes can help to create a full, thorough picture of who they are, how they are likely to act in a given situation and their likelihood to succeed in different scenarios. Assessments are a reflection of the person filling out the information.

  7. Assessments are discriminatory. When a person takes an assessment, demographic information is not passed along to the company or consultant conducting the assessment. Only the company who creates the assessment has that information. Further, the parent company only uses demographic information for research purposes. Assessments measure beliefs, thought patterns, predictive elements but they are not intended to measure physical or genetic attributes such as race, gender, creed, religion, or anything else that can be considered potential for discrimination.

  8. Anyone can build an assessment. Theoretically, anyone can build a car but would you want to drive a car built by just anyone? The key to any assessment worth having is the reliability and the validity of the assessment. Reliability measures the consistency while validity determines the degree to which the test measures what it claims to be measuring. To get a proper result, it's imperative to work with a company that has successfuly researched its product's reliability and validity.

  9. Assessment results don't change. Though it’s true that a person is who they are, a major life change can produce an entirely different result. Major life changes can include: birth/death within a family, a near death experience, an impactful job experience, major life change, winning the lottery, losing a job, military experience (especially during combat) and many many more. These major life events can definitely impact the way a person thinks about a particular situation and how they react when exposed to certain stimuli.

  10. They're expensive. Perhaps this is the biggest falsehood of the ten. Not only are assessments affordable, their findings are invaluable. And, when considering the cost of a bad hire, the value of an assessment increases exponentially. Consider the cost of hiring a candidate, putting them through training, waiting for them to learn the job and the culture, only to have them leave before being a productive member of the team. That is an expensive lesson in proper hiring that can avoided and overcome by proper use of assessments to hire the right candidate the first time.

People often fear the unknown. When they finally do the thing they feared, they realize there was nothing to fear in the first place. Anyone who has a fear of taking an assessment or resists doing so should reconsider due to the great benefit assessments can provide. For a person to learn not only how they behave in certain situations, but what drives them to do so, is incredibly valuable information that can help a person looking to improve their current situation. Not only can assessments help a company find the right candidate, they can help an individual find their perfect job and company work culture in which they will thrive.

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Dave Clark
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