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Pandemic be damned, at some point most of our readers will need to restaff their organizations to compete and be successful moving forward. Just remember, even in these uncertain times, all companies are required to follow the law when hiring or rehiring their staff. But do not panic. Most state and federal laws and guidelines follow good business practices.

A year ago, the U.S. was facing high employment and a shortage of talented, trained, or experienced applicants. Today the situation has changed. With higher unemployment, companies have a larger pool of potential employees to pick from. This is a time when, if you are not already doing so, you should seriously think of screening candidates with well-developed and valid pre-employment testing for fit with the job in question and your organization. When making well-informed hiring decisions, we have seen higher productivity, higher quality, and lower turnover in companies, which positively affects an organization’s bottom line.

In 2018, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provided a guide to pre-employment testing entitled Screening by Means of Pre-employment Testing. The author covered important considerations, including legal requirements. It emphasized this with the following quote: “…employers run the risk of litigation if a selection decision is challenged and determined to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations. Tests used in the selection process must be legal, reliable, valid and equitable, and HR professionals need to stay aware of any developing trends.”

In this article I will quickly summarize key points of these legal issues, which are essential to implementing a new staffing program. I will also emphasize why legal requirements are in line with good business practices.

SHRM appropriately warns that any organization using a pre-employment test must prove that their test is valid for the positions that are being screened. They go on to list and adequately describe three approaches to validating a test for this purpose: content validity, criterion validity, and construct validity.

I am not going to repeat their level of detail and chance giving you a headache. Considerate it correct to say that you should hire a professional (in most cases an experienced industrial-organizational psychologist) to conduct one or more of these validation studies. Note that you are not required to do them all. One is typically sufficient. In simple language, each validity approach is a way to determine that a test is measuring what is needed to be successful on the job being filled and that these are important to organizational success (i.e., it is a “business necessity”).

The federal courts and most state courts closely follow the federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978) and have done so for over 40 years. The requirements have basically never changed. In its simplest form, those guidelines state that if a pre-employment test or any hiring procedure results in discriminatory hiring, it is the employer’s responsibility to show the procedure has “business necessity.” In almost all cases, this means conducting a study to show content validity, criterion validity, or construct validity. The SHRM article I’m citing lists of variety of pre-employment test types (e.g., cognitive ability tests, personality tests, aptitude tests and skills tests), but SHRM left out an important test type – one that is growing quickly in popularity due to its job and organizational relevance and validity. That is work attitude screening. E.A.S.I-Consult® has completed research to demonstrate that this is, perhaps, the most important and fruitful test type to be used in organizations for pre-employment testing. Multiple validity studies, the degree of generalizability, and common sense have made work attitude screening popular. I am again, as from previous articles, going to borrow a quote from the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher: it is essential to “hire for attitude, train for skills.” Time after time, we’ve found that doing this reduces turnover, increases productivity, improves teamwork, and reduces safety incidents.

In summary…

The post pandemic target will likely provide an opportunity to embellish your workforce. The applicant pool is increasing, allowing you to choose candidates with the best fit for your job(s) and organization. There are a variety of pre-employment test types available to do this, some better than others. It is up to your organization to choose what is right for you. Finding the pre- employment test that will increase your bottom line is just a few steps away. Following the federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures will accomplish two things for you. It will push you to choose tests that can be validated for your jobs which, in turn, will ensure that the test positively impacts your bottom line. Finally, don’t overlook the growing value of screening for candidates with a strong, positive work attitude.

About the Author

David Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of E.A.S.I-Consult®. E.A.S.I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government   agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E.A.S.I-Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring advisement. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E.A.S.I-Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.