Inclusive Hiring Starts with Ditching Traditional Assessments. Here’s Why.

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

In recent years, there has been an ever-growing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace as it is not only the right thing to do but also brings a lot of benefits. However, the majority of companies are still relying on traditional assessments, such as personality tests (DiSC, MBTI) as a primary tool for evaluating candidates and hiring employees.

Yet, what most companies tend to overlook is the fact that if you’re using traditional assessments in hiring, you’re automatically not being inclusive

Here are 6 reasons why.

If you're using traditional assessments in hiring, you're not inclusive. Here are 6 reasons why

6 reasons why Traditional assessments are limiting you from being inclusive

Traditional assessments in the hiring process are a major obstacle to achieving diversity and inclusion within your organization. It’s time to take a hard look at the negative effects these assessments have on the diversity of your workforce and make a change.

Lack of consideration for diverse experiences and backgrounds

When you use traditional assessments, such as standardized tests, to evaluate candidates, you are likely to inaccurately assess the suitability of candidates from minority groups. This is because these assessments are often based on a traditional, narrow view of what makes someone “qualified” for a particular role, and are likely to not take into account the unique experiences and backgrounds of candidates from minority groups.

Moreover, these tests are likely to disadvantage individuals with neurological differences, such as those on the autism spectrum or with ADHD, who may have unique strengths and abilities but may not perform as well on these tests.

As a result, these traditional assessments are not only discriminatory but also lead to a lack of diversity within your company across all organisational levels. Therefore, if you primarily rely on traditional assessments to evaluate candidates and ultimately make hiring decisions, you cannot call yourself inclusive.

Risk of perpetuating stereotypes

Traditional assessments often foster an environment in which certain groups feel a fear that their performance on the test will confirm a negative stereotype about their group. This could be a belief that a certain race or gender is not capable of performing well in a specific role. 

For example, when answering questions in a personality questionnaire females are likely to underpromote themselves, whereas men will overpromote themselves. In reality, the reason so many women do not assert themselves is not that they lack confidence in their competence, skills or ideas, but instead that they are trying to avoid the “backlash effect”—the social consequence of asserting or promoting themselves (Exley & Kessler, 2022). 

This fear can lead to individuals performing worse on the assessments. 

Thus, putting them at an immediate disadvantage. If you use traditional assessments as part of the hiring or promotion process, you are in fact perpetuating systems that harm certain groups and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

(Un) intentional discrimination

When you opt for using traditional assessments, such as personality tests, as part of the hiring process, you risk (un)intentionally misusing or abusing the results to discriminate against certain individuals or groups. For example, if:

  • Candidate A has a protected characteristic which you have a quota to fill (e.g. a person of color) but is less suitable for the job according to the assessment results
  • Candidate B is more suitable for the job role according to the assessment results.

 

It’s likely that you end up hiring Candidate A because they have a protected characteristic even though they are less suitable or qualified for the job, simply. This results in positive discrimination

Another example is that you might choose to use the results as a way to justify excluding candidates who do not fit a certain ideal personality type, even if those candidates would actually be a good fit for the job. Or vice versa – a candidate seemed to be the perfect fit for the job. However, after they complete a psychometric assessment, their results show otherwise. You will likely then still choose to rely on your initial belief that they were the best fit regardless of being presented with test results that say otherwise. This is called the backfire effect.

No neuro-inclusivity

Approximately 85% of neurodivergent people are unemployed or are doing jobs far below their skill and testing level. 

Traditional tests are one of the reasons why. They are likely to be disadvantageous for neurodivergent people due to the way these tests are set up. 

For example:

  • Autism: Certain words in a personality questionnaire can be interpreted differently;
  • Dyscalculia: Traditional cognitive tests are built around numbers;
  • Dyslexia: Personality questionnaires are text-heavy.

Cultural insensitivity

For example, most of the personality tests are being developed within a specific culture and do not take other cultural differences into account. 

As a result, leading to interpretation bias that could result from any combination of construct, method or item bias (Church, 2001). 

  • Construct bias:  this can happen when the construct that is being measured by an assessment has different definitions in different cultures. For example if there are different definitions for what extraversion means/entails or what behaviours are associated with it across cultures, but a personality assessment is only based on the definition of one culture, then there would be construct bias in this assessment.
  • Method bias: this can happen when there are issues with the method that is used to test an assessment. For example if an assessment was only tested on men, then the method that was used to test this assessment was biased towards one gender which might make it an unfair or inaccurate assessment for women.
  • Item bias:  refers to specific items on the test. If those could be interpreted differently by different groups, there is item bias in your assessment. Often vague words that might have different meanings in different cultures can cause this. Or words that are difficult to translate to different languages without a change in meaning.


This results in a harmful impact on minorities in the recruitment processes.

Bias in test development and administration

This is authority bias. What we often tend to forget about is that is that test administrators and developers also have unconscious biases. If these biases are not successfully addressed and reduced throughout the process, it will lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace and a failure to identify the full range of talents and abilities among job candidates.

Let’s take IQ tests as an example. These tests are often developed and administered by people from a certain cultural or socio-economic background, and thus are not accurately reflecting the abilities of individuals from other backgrounds. 

Moreover, traditional assessments use norms (or average scores) based on a limited and homogeneous sample of test-takers. Meaning that these scores are based on the average performance of the said specific group of people. However, if certain groups are underrepresented in this norming sample, they are likely to be at a disadvantage when taking the assessment.

To sum up

Traditional assessments are limiting you from being inclusive because: 

  1. There is a lack of consideration for diverse experiences and backgrounds
  2. They perpetuate stereotypes
  3. Lead to (un) intentional discrimination against candidates
  4. No neuro-inclusivity
  5. Traditional assessments are culturally insensitive
  6. Biases are present in test development and administration

Game-based assessments for inclusive hiring

Game-based assessments in hiring are a game changer when it comes to inclusivity.

These assessments provide a fair and equal opportunity for all candidates, regardless of their backgrounds and have been proven to outperform traditional assessments on many levels.

By using game-based assessments in hiring, you can increase diversity, and create a more inclusive & dynamic work environment where everyone has a fair chance to succeed.

Way forward…

It’s time for people to wake up and realize that relying solely on outdated, traditional assessments in hiring is not only outdated, but it’s also downright unacceptable. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) should be at the forefront of your hiring process, and relying on traditional assessments like personality tests (DiSC, MBTI) simply won’t suffice anymore. 

Are you ready to take your hiring process to the next level and ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the heart of it all? 

You know where to find us.

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