Home Builder HR: Assessing Testing

An assessment can quickly provide information not obtainable other ways and allows home building employers to compare applicants against industry and peer benchmarks.
By Rodney Hall | February 28, 2007

Why Test and Assess?

Among the many builders we've worked with over the last 20 years, approximately half utilize some form of the many assessment tools on the market. To gain a better understanding of them I reached out to Gary Williamson, Ph.D, a managing partner with PSP Metrics, an industrial psychology practice specializing in assessments and organizational development. Besides Fortune 500 companies, PSP's client list includes some of the leading home builders in the nation, one with whom Williamson has a 20-plus year relationship.

Rodney Hall, senior partner, The Talon Group
Assessments or Testing?

We're often told not to call assessment tools "testing." In fact, some people think testing is illegal. "There's nothing illegal about testing in itself," says Williamson. "Most professionals prefer not to use the term because it renders a bad connotation. Tests resurrect unpleasant memories from high school and college. Tests are stressful. And more importantly, they denote right and wrong answers.

"Assessment is a much broader concept incorporating work behaviors, management styles, motivators — characteristics that vary from person to person."

So what does assessment provide the employer? It quickly provides information not obtainable other ways, says Williamson, and allows employers to compare applicants against industry and peer benchmarks. It's also a predictor of job performance and compatibility — and can give insight into potential for growth and development.

Assessment Types

Not all assessment tools measure the same things. Often, a company might use more than one type to gain a more comprehensive understanding. Williamson notes assessments usually fall into one of four categories:

  • Work Behaviors: Work habits, people skills, frustration tolerance, drive
  • Management Style: Directive, team-oriented, consultative, administrative
  • Aptitude/Ability: Ability to learn, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, vocational knowledge/content
  • Interests and Motivators: What people like to do, rewards/incentives they respond to besides money
Which is best?

Williamson says there is no one preferred tool. "Much depends on what the company wants to learn about an individual," he says. "What is critical is whether the results are compared with a valid representation for that industry or position."

What to look for: How long has the assessment provider worked in the industry? Has it archived enough data to make a valid comparison? What professional credentials does it have?

Finally, Williamson ex-tends a word of caution: "Assessment should never be used in isolation to make a decision about someone, especially in hiring or promotion situations." Instead, use it alongside other observations and experience to make a more informed decision.

Next month we'll take a closer look at some of the name brand assessment products home builders use.

Author Information
Rodney Hall is a senior partner with The Talon Group, a leading executive search firm specializing in the real-estate development and home building industries.


Why Test and Assess?

Assessments and tests help companies gain a better understanding of job applicants for hiring and selection purposes and employees for professional development and promotional purposes. They come in a variety of types and can help measure work behaviors; management style; aptitude and professional abilities; and interests and motivators.