As with most things in today’s world, the employment testing industry has been hugely affected by technology. We have come a long way, even since the start of my career a short 20 years ago. Back then, I spent most of my time while working as a testing specialist engaged in the low-tech, unfun task of hand-scoring test answer sheets, faxing them to hiring managers, and building Excel files to summarize candidate results. In those days email was high-tech and we were still amazed at the new things it allowed us to do. But the rest of our work was super low-tech. If we wanted to determine what the best test was for a certain competency or skill, we would have to leaf through huge test catalogs or industry sourcebooks. In this era, testing definitely had a human touch, but most of it was spent on the actual selection, administration, and processing of tests.
We are now in a vastly different era. Today we can select tests, deliver and score them, and share the results all in a matter of minutes. We have added a high level of efficiency and automation to the process and it is hard to argue with the many benefits that have been gained. However, it’s important to understand that, in order for testing to do its job, it must be both efficient and effective. Twenty years ago, effectiveness was limited by the inefficiencies inherent in the employment testing process, since most of the human energy dedicated to testing went right into the mundane stuff.
The human touch is now most valuable in supporting effectiveness, not efficiency. Testing companies can now focus on providing the tools needed to allow their customers to choose precise combinations of test content that are required for each and every job (as opposed to having to guess or search high and low for the right tests). As practitioners, we are now able to focus our human powers on choosing the best test content and using it to make good hiring decisions.
Technology has freed us up to make the best use of our talents. Anyone who feels that testing technology should be used to select tests and to evaluate applicants is missing the point. Now more than ever, it is important that we understand that humans have a gift that machines do not: common sense and intuition that, when combined with experience and expertise, make us better than machines when it comes to making complex decisions such as hiring. So, the next time you decide to use an employment test, be thankful that you have technology to help you, but don’t lose sight of the value you bring to the table. Ultimately, the decision on what to measure and how to use the results lies with you, and that is a good thing!
Makeda Waterman is an online journalist with writing features on CNBC Make It., Yahoo Finance News and the Huffington Post. She also runs an online writing business with 3.5 years of experience.