24 July 2011

Test administration

An underestimated aspect of the hiring process
The candidate selection process is our core concern at EPSI Inc. The many selection tools available and the different tests administered all have a single objective: to allow candidates to display their skills and their knowledge so that employers can be guided in their hiring decisions. Having accurate tools in these processes is therefore crucial to ensure the value of the assessment results and, consequently, of the selection process as a whole.
For test results to be valid, the tool must be administered in accordance with certain procedures established by the test developers. Only then can it be considered “standardized.” Otherwise, the tool’s accuracy (and therefore its effectiveness) is greatly compromised.
Naturally, the quality and reliability of a selection tool’s content is a key factor in any hiring process. However, the importance of the testing environment cannot be overlooked. Test administration is just as important as the tool itself. Here, we will take a look at why carefully following established rules and procedures enables all applicants to be assessed fairly.
Concretely, the test administrator must tell each candidate what he or she is expected to do, explaining the criteria being assessed, how answers are to be submitted, the time allotted for completing the test and which test-taking materials are permitted, including any computer programs or software. And because all of the firm’s tests are available on our web platform, the administrator needs to provide basic usage instructions. Candidates can also take a few minutes to become familiar with the equipment they will be using, in order to ensure that the process will be fair. In short, the candidate must know all this information to be able to complete the assessment without any confusion.
The test-taking environment itself is also a very important component contributing to the accuracy of evaluation tools. Pay special attention to lighting, the positioning of the work areas, a calm atmosphere, the temperature, as well as to facilities such as washrooms, drinks and break areas. These are very important, especially since assessments can last several hours and an oversight in this area would undoubtedly have a negative impact on test results.
As an example, let’s take the case of a test administered to a large group. It’s important to provide enough space to ensure that the candidates will be comfortable while also protecting the confidentiality of the tests. It’s also very important to collect all of the testing material used during the assessment to ensure that candidates taking the test at a later date will not have access to its contents. Here again, the administrator assures the fairness of the evaluation process. In general, test administration conditions should be equivalent to those in place when the psychometric data was first obtained.
And last but not least, an aspect that cannot be overlooked is the contact between the candidate and the administrator. In most cases, candidates are nervous and can even feel somewhat panicky and this can weigh negatively on their performance. The administrator must be able to reassure them by providing candidates with as much information as possible about the test, including a detailed schedule of the process.
To summarize, the role of the test administrator is not only to supervise the assessments but also, and even more so, to ensure that the process is fair, accurate and pleasant for each candidate.  The quality of test administration translates directly into a successful process which gives employers the knowledge they need to make an informed decision about the applicants they select.
For all of these reasons, the staff at EPSI Inc. considers it their duty to ensure that each stage in the selection process is administered in accordance with the best practices mentioned above, which has earned the firm the excellent reputation it thrives on today.i
Jonathan Morisset

i American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, National Council on Measurement in Education (2002), Standards for educational and psychological testing, pp. 61-65.