To Test Or Not To Test?
Whether to test or not is not really the question. If your
company has any kind of recruiting or selection process, I can just
about guarantee that some form of applicant screening, background
checks, skills testing or other selection procedure is being
utilized. Just about anything a company does regarding the
selection process becomes a test of sorts. A quick review of
the "Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures"
will help to clarify the issue. Many human resource
professionals erroneously believe that the Uniform Guidelines only
apply to personality testing or other forms of employment testing
procedures. It would be more appropriate to say that
employment testing and assessment programs are included under the
The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection
Section 1607.2(B) states, "These guidelines apply to
tests and other selection procedures which are used as a basis for
any employment decision. Employment decisions include but are
not limited to hiring, promotion, demotion, membership (for example,
in a labor organization), referral, retention, and licensing and
certification, to the extent that licensing and certification may be
covered by Federal equal employment opportunity law. Other
selection decisions, such as selection for training or transfer, may
also be considered employment decisions if they lead to any of the
decisions listed above."
So what are selection procedures?
The guidelines define a selection procedure as "any measure,
combination of measures, or procedure used as a basis for any
employment decision. Selection procedures include the full
range of assessment techniques from traditional paper and pencil
tests, performance tests, training programs, or probationary periods
and physical, educational, and work experience requirements through
informal or casual interviews and unscored application forms."
What is not covered by the guidelines?
Well that hard to say exactly, except that recruitment practices
are not considered by the Uniform Guidelines to be selection
procedures. Go figure! Just bear in mind that any
successful recruiting process will jump into a selection
procedure. Just about anything or any action which affects an
employment decision is covered by the Uniform Guidelines. Now
before you start validating all of those subjective selection
procedures, get acquainted a little more with the Uniform
Guidelines. The guidelines do not require a user to conduct validity
studies of selection procedures where no adverse impact results.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you cannot discriminate on grounds of
race, color, religion, sex and national origin. You cannot use
employment testing in a discriminatory manner such as requiring
every employee to have high scores in mental acuity in jobs where it
would not be a bona fide occupational qualification. The use
of a good validated employment assessment does not result in adverse
impact, rather it helps to ensure compliance with Federal
Adverse Impact and the Four-Fifths Rule
The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures state the
"A selection rate for any race, sex, or ethnic group which is
less than four-fifths (4/5) (or eighty percent) of the rate for
the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded by the
Federal enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse impact, while
a rate greater than four-fifths rate will generally not be
regarded by Federal enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse
EXAMPLE: Out of 120 job applicants (comprised of 80 white and 40
minority), 48 whites were hired and 12 minorities were hired.
48 out of 80 white applicants = 60%
12 out of 40 minority applicants = 30%
This hiring pattern results in adverse selection of minorities,
since 1/2 as many minorities are hired as whites (or 30/60), whereas
the hiring ratio must equal 4/5th as many minorities as whites.
The guidelines were developed under the wisdom that it is a whole
lot easier to stay out of trouble than it is to get out of
trouble. It is definitely easier to stay out of trouble
by using a validated selection procedure rather than relying
strictly on subjective processes that cannot be validated. One
of the main advantages of using a good pre-employment assessment
such as the Achiever is that it adds more objectivity and validity
to the whole selection process.
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