How to Use Talent Assessments for Selection

“If you hire good people, give them good jobs, and pay them good wages, generally something good is going to happen.”

James Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco Wholesale Corporation

Having barely emerged from The Great Resignation, the global economy now finds itself bracing for recession. In this environment of uncertainty, leaders are making difficult decisions about hiring and promotion. When talent is in high demand, and layoffs are on the rise, how can organizations be efficient and effective when it comes to selecting and developing talent? The answer lies with talent assessment. In this blog, SIGMA’s consultants introduce you to employee selection assessments and explain who should use selection assessments, how those assessments are used, and where to find helpful tips and tools for using selection assessments.

What is an Employee Selection Assessment?

A selection assessment is a talent assessment created for the purposes of supporting hiring or promotion. Selection assessments are different from other talent assessments because they are designed to help leaders predict an individual’s future performance rather than current performance. Selection assessments are also intended for a different audience; they are used to help another party, usually an employer, understand how an individual would perform in a specific role, whereas most other talent assessments are used to help individuals understand their own skills and abilities. In other words, candidates usually do not see the results of their selection assessment, but they do see the results of other assessments used for talent development.

Who Should Use an Employee Selection Assessment?

Selection assessments should be used by anyone who wants to incorporate objectivity within their selection process. This may apply specifically to HR professionals, or generally to leaders who are engaged in their organization’s hiring process. While leaders may not need to administer the assessment themselves, they should feel comfortable reading and interpreting results.

Many of the world’s leading organizations, such as Nokia, Toyota, Nestle, Pixar, Amazon, Unilever, Boeing, and Oracle have integrated selection assessments into their hiring processes.[i] Most of these organizations use general aptitude tests, a type of selection assessment that measures a range of basic skills and abilities. Aptitude tests are among the most common type of selection assessment, and they can be selected to suit the needs of the organization. For example, in technical roles at organizations like Amazon, Boeing, and Oracle, aptitude tests include specific practical skills like programming.

[Blue box] Note: Different assessments have different qualification levels required to administer and interpret a report. Before purchasing an assessment, be sure that whoever will be administering or interpreting the assessment has the right levels of qualification. For clients using SIGMA’s assessments, you can find your qualification level here.

Types of Employee Selection Assessments

There are many different types of selection assessments. Studies have shown that cognitive ability is the number one predictor of potential performance,[ii] which is why many selection assessments include a component dedicated to measuring cognitive ability. In addition to cognitive ability, conscientiousness has also been shown to be a significant predictor of job performance.[iii] Personality assessments commonly measure conscientiousness, among other traits, so many selection assessments may also incorporate personality assessment scales. For more information, download SIGMA’s Guide, Personality Tests for Selection.

How to Use an Employee Selection Assessment

Selection assessments are typically used during the hiring process, however, they can also be used to inform promotion. In both cases, leaders are involved in a decision-making process that results in selection, the only difference is whether candidates are selected for hire or promotion.

Regardless of whether a candidate is being hired or promoted, it is important to have a standardized decision-making process. When paired with a scientifically validated assessment, a standardized decision-making process ensures that candidates are selected using an objective and inclusive process. The following three guiding questions can be used to structure a consistent selection process:

  1. Does the candidate’s score meet the criteria? Some organizations use a firm cut-off on the assessment score, while others take information from multiple sources into account, such as a weighted average. There is no wrong way to set criteria, but the process must be consistent across all candidates for it to be effective. For example, if a cut-off score, also known as a “hurdle,” is used for one candidate, it should be used for all candidates.

  2. How does the candidate’s score compare to other candidates? Look at the candidate’s score relative to the overall candidate pool. This is especially helpful when there are multiple strong candidates. Comparing scores can help a decision-maker narrow down their list of candidates and select the one who is best suited for the role.

  3. What information have we gathered from other sources? Assessments are only one component of a strong selection process. Always use selection assessments in combination with other sources of information, such as resumes, interviews, or references. Consider whether this additional information changes the candidate’s standing relative to their peers. Then, once all information has been taken into account, select the candidate who is the best fit for the job.

Note that when using an assessment for selection, candidates should be aware that the assessment will be used for selection. This is a selection assessment administration best practice. Be sure to disclose that the information gathered during the assessment process will be used to inform the selection process.

Ready to Get Started?

SIGMA offers several employee selection assessments designed to help you find the right candidate the first time. Our assessments are evidence-based, have strong predictive validity and reliability, and are easy to use. Browse our assessments for selection or take a look at the Leadership Success Profile – Revised™ (LSP-R) Selection. The LSP-R Selection is a strong example of a talent assessment that has been tailored to a selection context. Based on SIGMA’s flagship leadership assessment, the LSP-R Selection a personality-based selection assessment that uses advanced algorithms to provide a profile of expected leadership performance on up to 50 leadership competencies. These competencies include various cognitive leadership skills, as well as competencies related to conscientiousness, such as thoroughness, accountability, and emphasizing excellence. To learn more about the Selection Report, read SIGMA’s blog Creating a Selection to Development Pipeline. To see a sample Selection Report, click on the button below. If you’re ready to get started, place an order or contact us today.

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Glen oversees SIGMA’s sales and marketing activities. As a skilled presenter and trainer, he has designed and delivered engaging workshops and webinars for senior managers and HR professionals. Glen knows our material inside and out, and can tell you first-hand stories of the work SIGMA has done with its clients. If you are interested in learning more about SIGMA’s succession planning services, send him an email or give him a call! He’d love to chat with you.

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[i] (January 28, 2020). 10 Major Companies that Use Aptitude Testing. Retrieved from

[ii] Schmidt, F.L., & Hunter, J.E. (1998). The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology:

Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings. Psychological Bulletin 124(2), 262-274.

[iii] Avis, J.M., Kudisch, J.D. & Fortunato, V.J. (2002). Examining the Incremental Validity and Adverse Impact of Cognitive Ability and Conscientiousness on Job Performance. Journal of Business and Psychology 17, 87–105.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.