Using assessment to hire is quickly becoming the norm. Recent surveys show that more than three-quarters of organizations with over 100 employees use some form of cognitive or personality assessment. But even with this widespread adoption of assessment, I still encounter lots of people who have misconceptions about it. The Harvard Business Review and Thomas chamarro-Premuzic recently released an excellent podcast which touched on misconceptions around assessment. Here are the five most common workplace assessment myths – and why they’re wrong.

  1. Assessments don’t tell you what you need to know: One of the most common misconceptions surrounding assessment is that testing for personality and cognitive ability doesn’t tell you whether a candidate will perform. But this flies in the face of all research and real world data. It has been proven time and again that competency based assessment that the correlation between workplace performance and cognitive ability is higher than interviews, resumes, and an applicant’s college grades. What’s more, it’s the most future proofed method of finding candidates who perform. Over the next two decades the tools which are used in the business place are certain to change (Think of when you last hired someone because they could use a fax machine), but having the cognitive ability and personality to adapt to any situation will always be in demand.
  2. Assessment replaces existing tools: References, resumes, and interviews are the bread and butter of any recruiter. A common misconception is that assessment aims to replace these tools. But this isn’t necessarily true. A good assessment system will work in conjunction with your existing process, and makes it far more accurate. For instance, according to research, we conducted a cognitive ability test combined with a reference check is ten times more predictive than a reference check alone.
  3. Assessments cannot account for workplace fit: Opponents of assessment say that it does not give candidates the chance to demonstrate their unique personality quirks, which might be critical in maximizing their potential. In reality, the opposite is true. Personality tests are one of the best ways to match a candidate to the company. A candidate and company mismatch is likely to cause disengagement, and according to Forbes, this disengagement costs between $450 billion and $550 billion in the America alone. Hiring right the first time saves both the company and the candidate a lot of wasted effort.
  4. People can game the assessment: Personality tests are typically self-reported, and common wisdom would suggest that this means that they can be cheated by a smart candidate. While this may have been true in the distant past, tests are becoming so sophisticated that it is next to impossible to ‘fake’ a personality trait. Not only do modern assessments check for internal consistency, they can also feature questions whose immediate purpose isn’t always obvious. For example, a question which asks ‘how successful are you at what you do’ isn’t testing for ability, it’s testing for And the wealth of data now available to us allows us to test this answer against other candidates who answered it in the same way. It could even be that a degree of narcissism is a valuable aspect in some workplaces and should be exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate.
  5. People can practice tests to improve their results: To be fair, this one is a myth based on the truth. It’s true that upon repeated testing candidates can improve their performance by up to 20%. But what’s not true is that this is a bad thing. Those who commit the time and energy to improve their performance in tests are demonstrating conscientiousness and a drive for results. If they can demonstrate this level of commitment just to get an interview, just imagine what they’ll do in the workplace.