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 guidelines.

The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures

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."

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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."

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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.

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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 regulations.

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Adverse Impact and the Four-Fifths Rule

The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures state the following:

"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 impact."

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.

You can find more articles on validity and legality on this site. 


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