“Quality of Measurement”: The Implicit Legal Cornerstone of HR Assessments

HR assessments are surprisingly constructed and validated using statistical techniques that do not guarantee legal compliance, given unwitting risks of poor measurement quality and biased results. Such pitfalls can be addressed using approaches grounded in modern Item Response Theory (IRT). This approach provides superior measurement, enhanced protection against discriminatory outcomes, as well as the capability for HR professionals to capture idiosyncratic information about test-takers to guide evidence-based behavioural interviews, reference checking, and development programs.

Pre-employment screening and selection assessments are arguably a best practice part of a comprehensive due diligence process for determining candidates’ technical competence for specific roles and cultural fit within organizations. Much has been written in academic and lay literature about the proper administration of HR assessments. The careful consideration of salient traits or characteristics to measure in candidates (or incumbents) combined with a systematic protocol to administer assessments collectively minimizes the risk of adverse  impact — employment practices that appear neutral but have a discriminatory effect on protected groups. But there are also hidden but critically important sources of biases in assessments themselves that must be considered to ensure compliance and fairness in due diligence.

To gain full access to the academic review paper as published by the Employee Relations Law Journal, please request a complimentary reprint by contacting James Houran, Ph.D.