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Validation of Pre-Employment Assessments and Crowdsourcing

by Joseph Murphy

This week, the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology reported that gamers contributed to a scientific breakthrough. The problem solving was achieved by a form of crowdsouring with a focused purpose. Earlier this year, I wrote about Jane McGonigal and her view that gamers can make significant contributions to solving significant world problems. This is one more piece of evidence that her theory is on track. Validation of a pre-employment assessment can be viewed as a form of crowdsourcing to solve a complex staffing problem.

The article reports:
"Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."

Gaming, science, and computation are at the core of the Virtual Job Tryout. We crowdsource from two groups to solve the question of what it take to be successful in a job.

When you ask ten recruiters or ten incumbents about what it takes to be successful in a job, you get ten opinions. Of course there will be some overlap, but the overlap will contain both true and false assertions. Humans can describe the same experience in many different ways. People perform the same task differently as well. What is needed to solve complex staffing problem is better candidate data.

The Virtual Job Tryout is a bit of a game. It is a work-sample and problem-solving activity. We crowdsource a large group of existing employees to complete the sample activities in the validation process. When hundreds of people complete the same tasks, we obtain a robust data set on different approaches used to address the same issues. We also crowdsource a comprehensive data set of on-the-job performance by asking the supervisors and managers to document productivity and rate competencies of the existing employees.

Computers are good at collecting information in a standardized format. The web makes it easy to deliver an engaging, multimedia experience that can mimic certain aspects of a job. In addition, how people navigate web experiences allows us to collect far more data than just a specific response. Think about it like solving a math problem. Sometimes the teacher wants to only see the answer, however, sometimes seeing the effort behind the answer is more insightful. The web allows us to collect the work behind the answer as well.

Industrial-Organizational psychologists are scientists. One specific skill set of these scientists is developing algorithms to drive insightful outcomes from HR analytics. The development of the correct algorithm is critical. Using algorithms based upon validation from other companies delivers vanilla candidates at best. At worst, you hire candidates just like your competitors, reducing your differentiation in the talent aspect of your business. Using data from your company, your employees, and your candidates is what makes pre-employment assessment work most effectively.

If you want to use crowdsource data to create a highly effective solution to your complex staffing problem, give us a call.

The discovery may not be as significant as a scientific breakthrough in living longer. But a better way to define what it takes to be successful in your company can improve the health of your bottom line.