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Behavioral Employment Assessments: How to Use Them Responsibly

Behavioral assessments are an excellent tool for individuals to understand their drives and working styles. They provide a snapshot of an individual’s preferences and challenges, and offer insights on how to effectively work and interact with others.

These assessments are useful for team building, talent alignment, and for optimization purposes (amongst other reasons). When results are available to all members of a team, they can allow each other’s strengths and weaknesses to be more transparent. This can help minimize friction and increase empathy within members of a team. Additionally, they can enable managers to predict behavior, resolve employee issues more quickly, and assign staff to projects they tend to perform best.

Despite this, behavioral assessments sometimes can have a negative connotation. This may come from the fact that some employers use these tests to make hiring decisions, bringing another set of challenges when not applied thoughtfully.

When are behavior employment assessments legal?

Pre-hire assessments are permissible only when they are customized to test job-specific skills, used consistently across candidates, and validated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides specific rules that require employers to be consistent in how pre-employment assessments can be administered; these must be considered to ensure compliance.

In addition, there is an underlying diversity and inclusion (D&I) related concern when using personality tests. Some can argue that they tend to classify results and people into fixed molds, providing a picture of how someone can fit into a culture rather than adding value and a different perspective. When not used mindfully, personality tests can encourage leadership to hire and promote similar people, thus limiting inclusivity.

There have also been claims that particular personality tests can repeat and amplify historical patterns of discrimination. For example, they may filter people with mental illness or a disability, which is a violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). To avoid legal ramifications and encourage a culture of diversity and inclusivity, there must be careful analysis and validation when choosing suitable assessments for your roles. As stated earlier, these tools must be proven and directly linked to a job-related goal.

It is also important to keep in mind that there aren’t any wrong personalities or results. As long as organizations use behavioral assessments responsibly and in coordination with other strategic HR decisions, they can be a great asset for teams and leadership.

Reach out to a Kiwi Partners HR Advisor to explore the idea of administering compliant, effective, consistent, proven, and inclusive behavioral tests at your organization.

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