Do you explain the relevance of assessment tests to candidates?

“For safety reasons related to severe fog at Gatwick Airport, the process of landing our plane will be executed automatically”.


I am not normally afraid of flying, but those words made me feel really uncomfortable. While I moved nervously on my seat, the cabin crew were impeccably calm. They were controlled partly because they are trained to do so, but also because they were familiar that the technology in use for high stakes situations would be better than a person. However, this knowledge, so useful for their calmness, was not communicated to the rest of us. They had been through this routine many times, however, it was my first. I am sure that somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the procedure was the right approach, but 2,000 ft above the ground was not a good time to speak to the rational side of my brain; so I was left thinking that I would really like a real human being to be controlling this aircraft to the ground.

Safe on the ground, I started to question if this panic was unique to just flying – are there similar high-stakes situations where a little more explanation would make a big difference? My mind naturally turned to my profession, the world of assessment and selection. Have companies become so used to applying assessment tests that they have forgotten to explain their relevance, reliability and validity to the job that is being applied for?

Making confident people decisions requires data – objective, universal and free of adverse impact. We know this and hiring managers know it too. But do candidates understand it to the same extent?

I am no longer sure they do.

Research shows that candidates consider cognitive or personality assessments less fair than interviews, CVs and references (Heuskenecht, Day & Thomas, 2004). Whilst HR practitioners and recruiters invest in assessments to make the selection process more accurate and fair, they end up giving the opposite impression to candidates. Hilarious.

As a matter of fact, the benefits of assessments are clear to practitioners, but may not be so to candidates. In a world where sites like Glassdoor made it so easy to share negative experiences with other potential applicants, shouldn’t companies care more about improving fairness perception during the selection process?

The solution may be very simple.

I discuss it in more detail at, read the full article here.

By Federica Rusmini

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