Fluff. It tastes good on a sandwich with peanut butter. It is not, however, a great building material for a pre-employment assessment.

If one has the technical wherewithal, it’s easy to make a “personality test” and put in on the market. Come up with a questionnaire to collect data, design a scoring system, and think up a palatable way to present the results. But for end-users (i.e., the companies trying to hire and develop good employees), this method lacks an essential component: validation that the assessment tool actually works.

Put more bluntly, why waste money on a useless personality test? Just as with buying shoes, you get what you pay for in the assessment world. Using a non-validated assessment won’t get you any closer to hiring the best candidate for the job; it will only add an unnecessary layer to the process.

So what’s a validated assessment, then?

Any legitimate assessment instrument meets scientific standards for Construct Validity. That means it has been tested, using commonly accepted scientific practices, to make sure it measures what it purports to measure. For example, if an assessment tool claims to evaluate an applicant’s dynamics for relationship building, the testing has to show, on a repeatable basis, that the questions within the assessment indeed measure that attribute and not some other quality (or nothing).

Accurately measuring a person’s motivations, strengths, and limitations can go a long way toward anticipating how an individual will come across to others. High scores in sociability, helpfulness, and empathy suggest one impression, whereas high scores in aggressiveness, urgency, and risk taking indicate another.

But relying on Construct Validity alone is problematic because it leaves too much room for assumptions.

“Someone who is aggressive and takes risks will probably be a good fit in my sales department, right?” Maybe. Or maybe not. You need a second data point to be sure: a measure of job performance.

The key differentiator of Caliper assessments is this second data point. Of course, our tools meet industry requirements for Construct Validity. But they also meet requirements for Criterion Validity, which greatly increases predictive power.

Criterion Validity is, in basic terms, how well one measure predicts the outcome of another measure. In the case of Caliper assessments, measure one is “personality traits” and measure two is “job performance.”

Over the course of an intensive, decade-long research project, Caliper collected unprecedented quantities of data linking personality to job performance across all major industries in order to uncover the true performance drivers of success in a multitude of sales, service, management, and technical positions. The result is an assessment that removes the guesswork about intrinsic motivations and workplace behaviors so that users can both select the best applicants and build coaching and succession plans for existing employees.

Returning to the sales example from a few paragraphs ago, a Caliper assessment does more than simply report on a person’s personality style and let you guess whether that style fits your particular need. It links the personality data to a validated sales model. With Caliper, you’ll have science-based findings at your disposal showing how well your applicant aligns with top performance in sales positions just like yours, not some generic conception of “sales.”

No hiring or promotion decision should ever be based solely on the results of a pre-employment or personality assessment, but when companies use assessments that meet standards both for Construct Validity and Criterion Validity, they should be confident they are acting on the very best information available.

To learn more about how Caliper can help you hire and develop successful employees, contact us today.

[Fluff is OK for closing lines of blog posts, in case you were wondering]