Employee selection (and the use of assessments) is one of the fastest-growing sectors in human resources. Assessment tools of various sorts are used to evaluate everything from candidate motivations, values and behaviors to communication style, personality traits, skills, mental agility, and organizational ability. Knowing your needs and what the market offers enables you to choose the right assessment. Before engaging with assessment tools, ask yourself some questions: What does the job require? What do you want to measure from your applicant pool? What types of tests are available? Some assessments focus on only one dimension, like mental acuity, skills or knowledge base. Others consider motivations, communication style or personality traits. Still others focus on skills and competencies. Typically, when companies are hiring highly skilled knowledge workers for software development, sales or management roles they are looking for that person to both have the ability to perform the role and the capacity to work well with people throughout the customer life cycle.

Interview your internal clients (the actual managers) to determine what they want to achieve from their people and how an assessment would measure the person’s ability to accomplish those objectives.

For many managers, it’s important to have assessments that enable them to better mentor and coach their newly hired employees. Or they need a formalized assessment that allows them to understand how to motivate, fully empower and engage their staff. Additionally, managers might see a need for a tool to elevate their ability to allocate resources more effectively and optimize their workforce.

The most powerful use of your money and time is choosing one assessment that can be applied to the whole human capital picture, from hiring through succession planning and retention. This, however, is no small challenge. If you choose a single assessment, it is important to see evidence that it passes the validation process.

On a side note, read the fine print because some company materials state that their assessment tool is not to be used as a hiring tool. Other assessment tools fail the four-fifths rule (a mandate that states that if four-fifths of a protected class doesn’t score well on an assessment it could be determined as discriminatory).

An excellent form of validation is benchmarking. When an assessment is given to over 100 top performers from different companies in a similar role, the benchmark validation is the average sum of the results in each category. You can also customize your benchmark by assessing 9 to 11 top performers in a specific role within your company, the same number of employees with mediocre performance, and another group of the same size with poor performance. Have someone analyze this data and distinguish the common denominators of strengths and weaknesses in each group, as well as highlight areas for growth opportunities and red flags that signal threats to effectiveness.

An excellent way to assess your workforce is through a Talent Capacity Index, a brief summary on what this is is outlined below: