What Is An Assessment?


A reader was asked to participate in an assessment before a recruiter would submit her resume for a job.

She asked, “What is this all about?”

Welcome to the murky world of psychology at work.

  • There is an overarching philosophy in life that people don’t know themselves. We are delusional; we feel shame; we struggle for meaning; and we try to hide our flaws. I don’t disagree with any of this, but companies don’t want to make a bad hire so they try to ‘minimize risk’ by asking candidates to participate in a pre-employment test called an assessment.
  • Assessments can look at various things such as your leadership style, your skills, and your work preferences.
  • A very basic example of an assessment is the MBTI.
  • A recruiter will take your results — which are (allegedly) reliable and valid because the tests have been constructed by psychologists — and compare your results to the job description, the expressed needs of the organization, and the culture of a company.
  • If you’re a fit for the job, a recruiter will forward your resume.
  • If you’re not a fit, you will be categorized by the results of the assessment. If another opportunity emerges that is a closer fit, a recruiter might call you.
  • I think much of this is bullshit.
  • While psychology is a valid field, the human psyche is complicated. We are  unpredictable and unreliable in ways that a test cannot capture.
  • People are also amazing. They can grow, learn, and exceed expectations in surprising ways.
  • An assessment ‘types’ you. It describes you. It puts you in a box — or several boxes.
  • One thing you need to know: it’s tough to lodge an objection once you are ‘typed’. And what happens if you change? Good luck going back and telling a recruiter that you’ve grown as a leader and you want your profile amended with your new ‘type’.
  • It’s also tough to control your assessment data. Allegedly, your results are secure and private. Yeah. We all know how that works. It’s private and confidential until it isn’t.
  • Unfortunately, the assessment business is huge. There are hundreds of vendors and many of them are integrating their tools into recruiting & interviewing software.
  • And these vendors are appealing to companies where it counts: in the pocketbook. Assessment vendors claim that it’s possible to minimize the cost of making a bad hire through the use of these tools and instruments. It’s hard for a company to say no to something that sounds so good.

If you are asked to complete an assessment, you can say no. Unfortunately, opting out of the process might disqualify you from being submitted for a job. Let me ask you something: do you want a recruiter or a company forming an opinion of your abilities — in part or in whole — based on a test created by a bunch of psychologists who have never met you?

Schwoo. What a racket. I need to open up an assessment firm.

Now tell me about your childhood.

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