Posted by John Kleeman

Some of the most important decisions made in the workplace are about people. Key decisions are who to recruit, how to manage, who to put in the right job role and in some cases, who must leave the organization. These decisions are critical drivers to success. I can see this clearly at Questionmark, where our business success has been driven by great people who have joined us and developed here. There are many other decisions to make on strategy, process, product, sales and much else. But getting the right person in the right place surpasses most other things.

Winston Churchill famously said that “True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information”. But most of us are not true geniuses, and so the more reliable information we can garner, the better decisions we can make.

Good quality assessments are one of the best ways of getting quality information about people. They can measure knowledge. They can measure skills. And they can measure personality and behavior. Assessments are often used to gather information to help make better decisions in recruitment, development promotion, compliance and learning.

Good decisions mean better performance and higher productivity. They drive growth and customer satisfaction. Risk and compliance are better managed. Informed decisions help teams work better. Employees are challenged and are more likely to stay.

And there is evidence that assessments and assessment technology help organizations make better decisions about people. For example, a Brandon Hall study (link: assessed the impact of assessment technology on business metrics. They identified that after introducing assessment technology, 58% of companies see an increase in employee retention, 76% in quality of hire, 58% in productivity and 60% in customer satisfaction.

If you do use assessments, to make decisions, there are four key characteristics that you need to look for in your assessments – they need to be valid, reliable, fair and defensible.

  • Valid assessments are ones which measure what they claim to be measuring. There should be evidence and theory to support the interpretation of test scores for the proposed use or decision. For example, an assessment used to recruit sales people should measure traits that are important for sales people to have.
  • Reliable assessments are consistent ones, so that there is a consistency of scores across instances of the testing procedure and reduced measurement error.
  • Fair assessments do not advantage or disadvantage people based on constructs irrelevant to what you are testing on. They are equitable to people of different genders, races and backgrounds.
  • Lastly defensible assessments are made in a way that you can defend that the result and any decisions made on them if challenged, for example by having documentation in place, shows how they are valid, reliable and fair.

If you want to learn more about how to create valid, reliable, fair and defensible assessments, visit our Questionmark white papers at Particularly useful are “Defensibility and Legal Certainty for Tests and Exams” and “Assessment Results You Can Trust”.

I hope this blog post might help you think about how you can use assessments to gather information on people that help you make better decisions about people in your organization.