Testing Science


Our tests employ established scientific principles and techniques backed by literally decades of rigorous independent research.

What's the Purpose of an Employment Test?

To quantify one or more differences between candidates that are related to future performance and/or tenure on a specific job.

More simply, the purpose is to help hiring managers make better selection decisions.

How do we do it?

At the highest level, we adhere to a core set of principles, described below.

Principle 1: Use a Solid Job Analysis

Psychologists use the term 'Job Analysis' to describe the activity of studying a job to identify it's most important tasks and their associated knowledge, skills, and abilities.

HR Avatar uses the job analysis performed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network (O*NET). This continually updated database estimates the relative importance of various knowledge elements, skills, and abilities for more than 900 occupations. We use this data to determine which traits to measure within each test and to set the relative importance or 'weight' of each of them.

Principle 2: Evaluate the 'Whole Person'

Our job-specific assessments combine several assessment types into a single job-related test for a specific job. Each includes measures of cognitive ability, personality, skills, knowledge, and past behaviors (bio-data). As a result employers don't need to worry that they've selected the wrong test or are missing out on valuable information. This approach is well-proven to improve test fairness and reliability.

Principle 3: Design for Reliability

A measurement is only as good as it is repeatable. In other words, a test that produces random results is useless.

We apply established and broadly accepted statistical method to evaluate and improve reliability within all of our tests.

Principle 4: Provide an Engaging Candidate Experience

To make the best possible impression on job candidates, HR Avatar's assessments employ simulations in which test-takers interact with animated characters (customers, co-workers and supervisors) to perform job-related tasks. This principle, often referred to as 'face validity' has been recognized for a long time. Typically, this animated simulation format is used in evaluating cognitive ability, knowledge, and skills within the tests.

Principle 5: Seize every opportunity to evaluate and improve Test Validity

Test validity refers to the ability of a test to fulfill its purpose, which is to quantify differences between candidates that relate to performance or tenure. To evaluate validity, we compare individual performance and/or retention data provided by our clients to test scores for those same individuals. Whenever a client is willing to share this information we are happy to perform this analysis and share the results. We also use these results to make improvements in each test.

The End Result: Valid Measurement and Successful New Hires

A 'valid' test must satisfy two criteria:
  1. It must consistently (reliably) measure the traits it purports to measure.
  2. The traits it measures must be related to job performance or tenure for the job it is being used for.

It's not the test that is or is not valid, it's the use of the test for a given job that is either valid or not valid.

Also, note that no measurement is perfectly valid. Instead, all measurements are only partially valid, and various measurements may be more or less valid than other measurements for the same job. What matters is that the test you use for a given job uses the best measures available that are related to job performance or tenure (see principle 1), it measures those traits fairly (see our page on test fairness), and it also measures them reliably.

Assessments Are Not Perfect

No assessment is completely accurate. However, like the daily weather forecast, they provide valuable input to your decision-making process - as long as you recognize this lack of accuracy and consider information from various sources before you decide.

Let's take the weather as an example. Suppose you were planning an outdoor picnic a few hours from now. You might look at the weather forecast online. However, you would probably also step outside to see what the weather is like right now. Finally, you might consider the weather you had yesterday afternoon. Armed with all of these data points, you can make an informed decision.

Researchers have proven that this approach - using multiple inputs from independent data sources - is almost always the best way to make a difficult decision.

Assessments work the same way. You should never use assessment results exclusively to make an employment decision. Instead, assessment scores should be considered along with other inputs, such as interview results, or references in order to get the best results.

HR Avatar Testing Resources
Why Test? Testing Science Test Fairness Implementing Testing
Further Reading

For more information, please refer to the following references:

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What Our Customers Say
"I love how easy it is to view the applicants test results. It has a summary page that breaks down each competency and even goes into details. Very easy to read and navigate through. I also the animations before each test is given to each of our applicants. Great way to engage them before the test is taken. Overall I really love the HR Avatar software."
Glenn Soliven, Recruiting Manager, My Wireless
"...this is great tool that can be used to eliminate canidiates [sic] before interviewing them to at least make sure they have the basic competencies. I will no longer hire anyone until they have taken this test."
Michael Savage, Operations Manager
"This platform is really excellent, it has a series of functionalities that accelerate our recruitment work and allows us to process more evaluations in a short time, it offers well designed tests that help us to make very necessary evaluations in each applicant, it allows us to know the performance and the abilities of each applicant which helps us to select just what we need."
Jessica Garrett, Human Resources Manager, Unilever

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