statue of liberty buried

Employment Tests are Becoming Irrelevant… and Humankind is Becoming Extinct… but not yet

What better way to kick off our new blog on all things employment assessment related than with a prognostication that our industry is not long for this world.  Maybe if I write real fast I can catch up before it’s dead.

But seriously… 

I have closely watching the emergence of big data and am convinced that in time, recruiters and we psychometric assessment professionals will figure out ways to source and screen talent based on publicly available data we’re able to scrape. Does anybody  doubt LinkedIn will begin to flex its potential in this arena?

What prompted these musings at this particular time is an excellent article/blog posting by Dr. Charles Handler, president and founder of and a thought leader in our space whose insights usually evoke hearty nods from me. Employment Tests are Becoming Irrelevant for Predicting Job Success is an excellent read. Handler identifies three ways in which data is slowly killing the employment assessment test as we know it:

  1. The Impact of Publicly Available “Free-range” Data
  2. The Rise of Structured, Sanctioned, Verifiable, Shareable Personal Data
  3. An Increase in the Quality and Quantity of Job Performance Data and Company Information

If you have any doubt as to the validity of these trends, then check out this New York Times article, or this article from Business Insider.


Does the availability of data necessarily mean we will develop the tools to master it? Not necessarily. Consider it was not that long ago when it was promised that Scantrack data of consumers’ grocery purchases would unlock all the secrets of buying. While scanned data has provided some useful predictors for data mining and targeting (see this Forbes article on Target), it has not removed all uncertainty from grocery marketing. Nor do I think will publicly available online data be the end-all solution for recruiting. No doubt, it will be great for discriminating on certain competencies. But in our assessments we have seen plenty of cases where people who looked nearly identical on paper in terms of education and experience and more tested vastly different on certain cognitive abilities or leadership traits. And I highly doubt we will be able to find data proxies to replace all the measures we test for.  (Of course, this could all change in the coming singularity… but that’s subject for another posting).

Mmmm... big data. But does it really have ALL the answers for recruiting?

Mmmm… big data. But does it really have ALL the answers for recruiting?

It may become used for more niche purposes, or for in-depth profiling rather than for screening, but I think there will always be a place for assessment testing. In fact, about half of our new clients are companies just making the transition from manual resume review to automated online psychometric testing. So I won’t be donning my mourning suit anytime soon.

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