The Science Behind Assessment Tests For Pre-Employment Insights & Applications

Science Behind Assessment Tests

Companies rely on assessment tests to gain insight about candidates that is not obtainable from resumes and interviews alone. These assessments measure critical candidate skills, including reasoning, personality, integrity, and competence.

The best assessment vendors are working hard to make their tests more applicant-friendly while retaining validity and reliability. This will help to move top candidates through the hiring process more quickly.


Reliability refers to the consistency of test scores over time. Assessment companies evaluate the reliability of their tests by comparing the results of participants taking the same version of a test twice, perhaps a few weeks apart, to ensure they are getting similar scores. A correlation coefficient measuring how closely the test results match up is used to determine the reliability of a test.

In addition to focusing on the consistency of test-taker results, testing for reliability also focuses on ensuring that individual items within a pre-employment test are consistent. For example, if you administer two separate versions of a logical reasoning test to the same group of people at different times, they should yield similar results. This is referred to as internal consistency reliability.

A high level of construct validity is another critical factor in determining the effectiveness of an assessment. Construct validity measures how well a test measures the construct it is designed to measure and how it aligns with the company’s definition of the trait or characteristic being measured.

An excellent way to ensure construct validity is to have a team of subject-matter experts review the questions and score them for social desirability, content, and criterion alignment. When an assessment has high construct validity, it reflects what the company is looking for and enables them to make more accurate hiring decisions than a resume, positive references, or an interview alone can.

Face Validity

Face validity focuses on whether or not a test seems appropriate for its intended purpose. It is different from other forms of validation, such as content and construct validity, which examines the underlying factors that are measured. Face validity is based on subjective judgments by participants or experts, so it is essential to be cautious when using this method.

For example, suppose you are designing a questionnaire to measure anxiety in students before exams. In that case, it may be helpful to have teachers and parents review the questions to determine if they apply to their daily lives. You can also use a similar approach to evaluate an assessment’s content and construct validity.

When assessing face validity, it is essential to consider cultural and language differences. For example, suppose a test is created in the United States and is later used in India. In that case, it may have low face validity for Indian employers, as some of the questions might seem irrelevant to their culture.

As with reliability, face validity does not necessarily indicate a strong connection between an assessment and its measuring construct. Other forms of validation should be used to demonstrate a strong relationship, such as inter-rater and test-retest reliability. Suppose the evaluation is being used for predicting job performance. In that case, it can be validated by using a sample of people hired in that role to establish benchmark standards.

Construct Validity

In assessment tests for pre-employment, validity, and reliability are two distinct concepts. Validity ensures a test measures what it should, while reliability ensures consistent results over time. Almost every test requires both to be useful in pre-employment assessments.

Researchers use several methods and techniques to establish construct validity to see whether the items in an assessment measure the intended concept. This includes factor and statistical fact, which determine whether or not a test measures different traits simultaneously, and convergent validity, which ensures that other aspects of an assessment are related.

Ideally, a new measurement instrument will have strong face validity, effectively measuring the trait at hand. For example, a math test that includes a lot of math problems will have face validity when used to assess math skills. This can be further proven with correlation studies comparing measurements to see if they all measure the same thing.

Lastly, a good test will have internal validity, which is the extent to which it is meaningful for its purpose. This can be established by comparing statistics about successful and unsuccessful employees, enabling employers to predict how an employee will perform in their role.

Predictive Validity

Regarding pre-employment assessments, predictive validity is the main factor determining how well a test will predict job performance. Typically, HR professionals will measure the predictive validity of a new assessment by comparing its results with a specific criterion – like a candidate’s score on another pre-employment test or an in-person interview.

This is usually done by plotting the test scores on a graph and the job performance on another criterion, such as a scatter plot. The ideal line would represent a good match between the two, and any candidate who sits on or above this line would be considered a high performer.

It may seem unfair to come to a hiring decision solely based on an assessment test, but in reality, the accuracy of these tests is one of the most critical factors in the overall hiring process. Compared to a candidate’s resume, which can be manipulated, and in-person interviews, where positive references and fabricated responses can occur, a valid assessment test objectively determines the best fit for a role.

Using an assessment test as part of the hiring process is becoming increasingly popular. It provides precision that can be difficult to achieve when making hiring decisions. However, it is essential to understand how to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of a test so that you can be confident in its use.

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