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Psychological testing

Using online assessment tools for recruitment

This guide provides good practice and ethical issues in relation to using online assessment tools for recruitment. It is aimed at people working in recruitment and selection.

31 March 2010

The growth in the internet over the last decade has been phenomenal. In the UK it has moved from being the domain of academics and IT professionals to a medium accessed by over 71 per cent of the working age population (based on Office of National Statistics findings). About a quarter of internet users cited looking for work as one of the activities they performed on the web. The growth of internet recruitment sites supports this trend. Most large companies have recruitment pages on their website and many allow applicants to complete applications forms or submit CVs. A growing number also use the medium for more structured assessment processes. It is now not uncommon for candidates to be asked to complete tests and questionnaires online, particularly for initial sifting purposes. This guidance looks at some of the good practice and ethical issues in this development in the use of tests.

As with other uses, while the internet is very useful in easing communication and managing data, it does not generally change the essential nature of a transaction. Buying goods over the internet is not very different from old-fashioned mail order. Submitting an application via the internet is not very different from sending it in the post. However, use of the internet has encouraged a form of remote testing which was perhaps less common before the internet era. Biodata forms and other questionnaires were sometimes sent out by post to be completed together with application forms for initial sifting purposes. Automated telephone systems were occasionally used to collect applicant data. Now it is quite common for a candidate to complete a personality questionnaire online early on in the selection process and the use of remote online ability measures is also growing. Thus when considering the impact of the internet on testing practice the issues can be divided into those related to remote assessment, those related to computer administration and those related to early stage sifting and shortlisting. These are all issues that existed before the internet but have become more pertinent with its appearance. The APA committee on internet testing came to a similar conclusion. Their report (APA, 2004) uses the phrase ‘new problems, old issues’ in its title.

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