A test may ask all the right questions and assess all the skills you are looking for, but it needs to be able to perform well statistically. Any theories, regardless of the field of study, only become fact if they can stand up to rigorous analysis.
The American Psychological Association (APA) sets the standards for educational and psychological testing. Thus, all tests that are used for hiring purposes need to follow these rules. For a summary of the APA standards, click here.
The following is a general overview of what to look for in a test, based on the criteria set by the APA:
Reliability and Validity
First, ask your test provider to give you the statistical report for the test you are interested in. Although wading through a test's statistical data can be intimidating, you don't need to be a statistician in order to assess the quality of the test. Here is the key information to look for:
The validity of the test tells us whether it's measuring what it's supposed to measure. Here's how to determine whether a test is valid:
Test creators or distributors should be able to provide a sample of the questions, a sample report, and/or a demo that allows you to take a test yourself. Here's what to look for in terms of how the test is built:
In order to decide whether a test fits your needs, make sure to investigate the following:
Make sure that the questions on the test are:
It's also important for a test to include measures that assess "faking good," like Impression Management or Social Desirability scales. This is especially true in cases where the stakes are high. A candidate who really wants a job may try to answer the test questions in a way that will make him or her look good (rather than choosing responses that reflect his/her actual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors).
Verify whether the test report offers sufficient information for you to make a clear decision about a candidate's potential. Ideally, test reports should include the following information:
Other important information
Aside from asking the test provider for a statistical report and demo of the assessment, here are a few other important questions to ask: