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Assessments: Can an employer require me to do one?


The employer can…as long as it’s a bona fide occupational rquirement (BFOR).

What does that mean?  The assessment needs to be a requirement for the safe and efficient performance of the role.  For example:

  • An IQ test would not constitute a BFOR for a receptionist. 
  • A Physical Ability test would constitute a BFOR for a Fire Fighter.

What kinds of assessments or tests might you be expected to complete?

  • Behaviour:  observes and measures your actual behaviour.
  • Cognitive Ability:  assesses your aptitude or potential to:  learn quickly;  think logically;  proble solve;  use verbal or mathematical reasoning and perceptual abilities like speed in recognizing patterns.
  • Integrity:  assesses your attitude and experience related to honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and pro-social behviour.
  • IQ:  measures your general intelligence.
  • Job Knowledge:  evaluates your your technical or professional expertise and knowledge required for specific professions.
  • Personality:  measures personality traits like:  extraversion, conscientiousness, opennness to new experiences, optimism, service orientation, stress tolerance, emotional stability, initiative, etc.,
  • Physical Ability:  has you demonstrate your strength, balance, speed, etc.
  • Work Samples and Simulations:  has you perform an actual task like create a document in Word.
  • Individual Psychological Assessment:  measures your cognitive abilities, leadership style and personality, among other things.

Why do employers require an assessment?  Assessments provide an objective approach to supplementing information from other sources to help employers…and employees..make the most informed hiring decision possible.  The better the decision, the more likely the employee is to be positioned for success both in the shorter and longer terms and the greater an employer’s return on investment.

When should an assessment be used?  Assessments can be introduced at a number of milestones in the employment process:  initial recruitment, training and development, succession planning and retention.

During the recruitment process, assessments are recommended toward the end when the top two candidates have been identified.  If #1 declines the job offer, then the #2 candidate is at the ready.

For training and development, succession planning and retention, assessment results provide excellent background information for coaching, mentoring and personal growth.

Where are assessment conducted?  Assessments can be conducted on-site (either at the employer’s or facilitator’s venue) or self administered on-line.  Interpretation of results is usually best when discussed face to face but Skype, phone and e-mail can also be considered.

What considerations should candidates be aware of?  In addition to knowing that an assessment constitutes a BFOQ, you can ask about:

  • Validity:  does the assessment measure what it claims to?
  • Reliability:  are the results consistent when you’re retested over time?
  • Bias free:  will the assessment  not adversely impact a certain demographic (age, gender, race, etc.) or present barriers or prejudices which may restrict your access to employment?
  • Legal defensible:  is the assessment administered according to the principles of administative fairness?

If it’s true that the typical employee stays 2-3 years in a role, 4-6 years in an organization, employers need to receive the best return on investment and employees deserve a role and corporate culture where they can play to their strengths, learn and grow.  Assessments are a useful tool to both parties.