Is My Pre-hire Assessment Reliable and Valid?

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Blog


How many times have you been sitting across from a candidate for their first in-person interview and you wondered just how they passed your initial screening process? Their resume looked great and they sounded fine on the phone. But based on what you saw on paper and the interaction you had, you were expecting Bruce Banner. Instead the Incredible Hulk showed up. 

How can you get a sense of someone’s personality, potential output, and job fit when your only input is reading what they say about themselves on their resume and hearing how they present themselves in a perfunctory first phone call? Bottom line, it’s tough. There are other steps you can ask candidates to take, however, that can give you a closer look. Get more of a peek behind the curtain. Having them take a personality assessment like DISC might be the answer. 

Using Personality Assessments in Hiring

Weaving personality assessments into your recruiting process is a smart business practice. If you’ve employed a reliable and valid tool, you can view your candidates’ potential behavioral strengths and weaknesses, which can help you narrow the field of eligible applicants. An accurate and reliable assessment result provides you with a way to estimate if their natural skills and motivators will help them perform well in the role and keep them happy while they’re doing it. 

The question to ask yourself is how do you know that the tool you’re using is reliable and valid? Heck, even before asking that question you should probably understand the difference between reliability and validity.

Defining Reliability and Validity

Reliability has to do with consistency. If you present the same person with the same assessment in a similar environment, it should achieve the same result. If a pre-hire assessment is tested and achieves a reliability standard, you can consider it a positive indicator that the assessment is valid. But reliability on its own doesn’t ensure validity.  

Validity indicates if the tool is accurately measuring what it was designed to measure. There are actually quite a few considerations when measuring validity:

  • Construct validity: does the tool actually measure what it’s supposed to measure
  • Concurrent validity: how does the tool compare to other similar tools that measure the same thing
  • Face validity: do the items/questions in the instrument seem to connect to the outcome
  • Criterion validity: is the assessment  applicable to a specific set of criteria, like a role or job description

When examining the validity of a pre-hire assessment tool you are looking for a way to clearly link a candidate’s specific scores and patterns of scores to job success in targeted, well-defined areas. So, it’s important to choose the tool you will use carefully.

Protecting Against Bias

There has been some recent news about pre-hire assessments that may contain inherent bias. That is, tools that intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against certain protected classes of people. Some cities and states have introduced legislation to ensure candidates are not taking pre-employment tests that are unfairly biased. If you are using or plan to use assessments prior to the hire, it’s more important than ever that you have faith that your tests of choice pass reliability and validity criteria, and have also been studied for bias in hiring.

Adverse impact studies prove that the assessment does not discriminate against any protected class as defined by the EEOC. . Using the 4/5ths rule of adverse impact, are the results of any group more than 20% different from the control group? Comparison categories included, gender, age, and race..

Ensure that whatever pre-hire assessment you use measures up and can prove it. The EEOC provides further guidance on choosing a pre-hire assessment.

Questions You Should Ask Your Assessment Provider

When choosing a test to use for pre-hiring purposes, here are some questions to ask the provider:

  1. When were the studies last conducted and what were the results?
  2. How often are these studies evaluated?
  3. What type of validity criteria were measured?
  4. Have they conducted adverse impact studies to be EEOC compliant?
  5. Will they openly share the findings of these studies with you?

If the provider cannot answer those questions, keep looking. 


At DPP, we do all the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. We can provide concise documentation that addresses the reliability and validity of our suite of assessments.

We know it’s tricky trying to find the Bruce Banners in a sea of Incredible Hulks. Employing a rigorously tested, reliable and valid pre-hire assessment can help. Let us show you how.


Sign up for your Business Discovery Session with one of our DISC assessment specialists.