3 Ways validation studies can improve employee selection

Written by Steven Jarrett, Ph.D., Senior Consultant
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

All organizations need to measure the effectiveness of their selection tools. Some may not know what a validation study is and that it’s available to provide a significant benefit to your employee selection process, or some may think the only time to conduct one would be if there are legal challenges. However, there are many reasons to conduct validation studies that are not directly related to legal challenges. A criterion-related validation study examines the scores on a pre-employment assessment and how they correlate with performance on the job, such that one would expect that individuals who score higher on your assessment tool perform better on the job than individuals who scored lower on the assessment. This process can be used not only on employee assessments, but any part of your selection process.

Here are three ways a validation study can benefit your selection process:

1. It determines the effectiveness of the selection tool.

By determining the effectiveness of the tool, you gain a better understanding of how well the assessment tool or selection method predicts success in the position of interest. This also allows you to edit the assessment scoring so that you can maximize the validity as well as understand if the tool predicts success similarly across race and sex. Finally, there is the potential to demonstrate the ROI of the tool by correlated scores with better performance, reduced worker’s compensation, or other variables of interest.

2. It allows you to edit the test design to make it work for your organization.

Validation studies allow you to understand which methods/constructs are most and least effective in predicting performance. Additionally, as reduced assessment times are becoming increasingly desirable, one may be able to identify areas to shorten the assessment to allow candidates to focus on the parts of the assessment that are most predictive.

The data allows an organization to optimize its assessment or selection tool for the specific position(s) of interest. For instance, a large auto-manufacturer chose to conduct a validation study for the purpose of understanding the ROI of the tool. However, they were also able to reduce the assessment time by 25% while still maintaining the prediction of success in the role.

3. It increases the legal defensibility of your whole hiring process.

Although not the only reason, potential legal defensibility does remain a viable reason to conduct a validation study. Organizations that have increased legal exposure due to being a federal contractor, conducting high volume hiring, or even just having desirable positions, open should consider validating their selection procedures. Specifically, the validation evidence provides the rationale for why individuals were or were not selected for the role. This becomes of paramount importance if the tool demonstrates adverse impact, because, while not illegal, if you have adverse impact you must demonstrate that the tool is job-related and there is a not a viable alternative selection procedure.

This highlighted the reasons for the criterion-related validation study, but there are other ways to accumulate validation evidence, which you can learn about here. Additionally, once you’ve collected the validation data, you can present those results in a memorable fashion to prove the value of your selection process.

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