Do You Want to Profile Performance or Predict It?

A Commentary from Previsor on the Risks of Profiling in the use of Pre-Employment Psychometric Assessment Tools in building a Conscious Hiring Process.

Overview This commentary describes the profiling approach to using pre-employment psychometric assessments, compares it to the predictive approach to using assessments, and then contrasts these two very different approaches. It then describes the dramatically different results derived from an analysis in which the two methods were compared side-by-side in the selection process for a given organization. At KeenHire, we use both approaches in tandem to deliver the best hiring process to our customers. The Key is in the Role Analysis (referred to as job analysis in this article).

What is Profiling and How Does it Compare to the Predictive Model? The profiling approach involves assessing a small group of employees that have been identified by the organization as high-performers, and using the resulting test scores to determine how to evaluate job candidates. Candidates whose assessment scores more closely resemble the scores obtained by the high-performers are judged to be better “fits” for the role, and are forecasted to be better hires. A predictive approach, by contrast, involves identifying job-relevant traits based on an in-depth job analysis, and selecting those candidates who earn higher scores on measures of those traits.

Seven Problems with the Profiling Approach to Assessment Most assessment experts do not advocate using a profiling approach, even though it would be easy for them to implement, due to seven major problems with profiling. These are summarized below.

#1: The “Ceiling Effect” Problem The scores obtained by the high-performing employees asked to complete the assessment define the ceiling—the maximum possible score that can be obtained on the assessment. This means that it is actually impossible to identify a candidate who is a better fit for the position than current high-performers. The high performers used to develop the model don’t just represent “desirable,” they represent the best imaginable. “”The profiling model has no answer for the question