3 Tips for Identifying Psychometrically Sound Personality Assessments

March 5, 2020 Evan Theys

First Published on LinkedIn 


Personality assessments on the market range from magazine pop quizzes to hours long, face-to-face assessments with several observers. So, how do you differentiate the good from the bad from the ugly?

A good, psychometrically sound assessment should be reliable and valid, long enough to gather data but short enough to not be repetitive, and provide a sleek, user-centered experience. These assessments allow employers to reliably identify high-potential candidates while creating a world-class candidate experience.

Here are three tips for determining which personality assessment is most psychometrically sound and best for use at your organization.

Reliable and Valid

A good personality assessment has to be backed by science. This means it needs to be reliable and valid. Any assessment provider should be able to answer two main questions:

  • How reliable is the assessment? This refers to how consistently the assessment measures what it is intended to measure. Depending on the assessment, different estimates of reliability may be used (e.g., test-retest, Cronbach’s alpha, split-half reliability); however, regardless what estimate is used, the provider should be able to deliver evidence that the assessment produces consistent results.
  • How valid is the assessment? Validity refers to how well the assessment measures what it is designed to measure. As such, the assessment provider should be able to provide proof that their assessment content accurately reflects the targeted traits, shows the expected relationships with other related traits, and is practical for use in informing talent decisions (e.g., predicts organizational criteria like job performance, turnover, or advancement potential).

If the provider is unable to provide this documentation in the form of a technical report, then keep moving. Assessments that vendors can’t provide evidence of their reliability and validity are not something you want to spend organizational time or resources on. In addition to demonstrating that the assessment is reliable and valid, a good assessment provider should be able to demonstrate success through case studies. Data and feedback gathered from actual clients can give you the best picture of an assessment’s success or failure.

As Short As Possible, As Long As Necessary

Leveraging technology has allowed creators of personality assessments to make assessments less repetitive, more personalized and more accurate. People often get frustrated with standard flat-form personality assessments because their methodology relies on asking very similar questions several times. This can lead to a less-than-stellar experience that frustrates candidates. The algorithms used in adaptive testing result in a more dynamic and tailored experience for candidates. Candidate experience is improved as a result, while the measurement also becomes more accurate.

Understanding what makes people tick and how they’re likely to behave helps employers make higher-quality selection decisions. Employees and candidates bring more than just skills and experience with them to work; they bring their personalities, preferences, tendencies and styles, too. But not all behaviors are relevant to all jobs. Knowing what’s really important allows an assessment to be shortened to assess the likely behaviors with high job relevance.

A Sleek User Experience

Behavioral assessments that have been designed specifically for use on mobile devices allow applicants the flexibility and autonomy to complete the assessment when they choose on the platform of their choosing. Tests designed for mobile-first delivery are more accessible and result in higher rates of completion.

Ideally, candidates also get a “takeaway” as a reward for completing the assessment. The results of the assessment, presented in easily understandable language as an interactive HTML report, go a long way toward securing applicants’ acceptance of the assessment and create a positive image of the hiring organization.

To learn more about behavior in the workplace, read our Whitepaper: Why Behavior at Work Matters

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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