Maximize Legal Defensibility with Pre-Hire Assessments

November 1st, 2019
Dr. Nathan Mondragon, Chief IO Psychologist, HireVue
Image of blue law books to show legal hiring process

Most corporations are committed to making their recruiting and hiring processes as fair and objective as possible — because it’s the right thing to do and because they want their hiring decisions to be legal, explainable, and defensible.

The good news is that if your organization is using HireVue Game-Based Assessments and/or video-based Assessments, the experience of taking the assessments is both enjoyable for candidates and maximizes the legal defensibility of hiring decisions for organizations. Three must-have criteria make an assessment ready to stand up to legal scrutiny:

  1. Establishing job-relatedness
  2. Documenting reliability and validity
  3. Conducting rigorous adverse-impact testing.

Establishing Job-Relatedness

Hiring people based on “gut feeling,” because they’re a good  “culture fit” (meaning you’d want to play golf with them), or simply because they talk a good game are practices that allow bias to flourish and waste company resources. A bad hire can cost a company 30% of that employee’s salary, and replacement costs can run up to 200%.

Enter the research-backed pre-hire assessment. High-quality assessments, like HireVue Assessments, are designed by specialized industrial-organizational (IO) psychologists.

At HireVue, IO psychologists perform a detailed job analysis and identify the competencies required to be successful in the job. Then, the team designs the interview or assessment questions that will best let candidates demonstrate those competencies. In this phase, the HireVue team identifies job performance measures that are critical to success in the role, such as sales quota attainment, customer satisfaction scores, call handle time or annual performance review.

Those measures put an end to relying on trick questions or canned responses that simply demonstrate one-time performance in an interview. Instead, the measures identified by HireVue are evidence-based traits and behaviors that are linked to the competencies needed to be successful in the target job, such as problem-solving skills and conscientiousness.

HireVue Assessments are trained not to notice anything except the competencies and skills related to the job at hand. They never analyze a person’s appearance, clothing, or anything else that’s not related to job success.

Reliability and Validity

Building on the job-related competency-based framework, game- and video-based assessments have to be both reliable and valid in terms of their ratings or predictions.

  • Reliability means that the same person taking the same test multiple times has a similar result each time -- no “gaming” the system.
  • Validity means that what is being tested is actually relevant to tasks performed on the job.

Reliability and validity are measurable objectives that can be demonstrated to outside auditors if your company’s assessments ever come into question.

At HireVue, ongoing tests for validity are performed over time using an initial baseline competency (such as sales quota achieved) and then updating the metric at regular intervals to see whether the prediction of the likelihood of success was achieved (was sales quota achieved consistently, quarter after quarter?).

Adverse Impact Testing

Adverse impact is the negative effect a biased selection procedure can have on a protected class or group. It occurs when a group is discriminated against during the hiring process on the basis of the scoring results of that selection tool, which leads to a disproportionately negative hiring or promotion decision.

Generally, in the US, adverse impact is measured to protect classes based on race, sex, age (40 and over), religion, disability status, and veteran status. Many methods exist to measure adverse impact of the selection tool and that are generally accepted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Uniform Guidelines. The first test is called the “4/5ths Rule” or “Red Flag Rule,” which is then followed by more rigorous statistical tests of group differences — all of which HireVue follows in the development, testing and ongoing monitoring of its AI-driven assessments.

In 2013, as HireVue was just starting to develop video-based assessments that use AI to analyze responses to questions, the HireVue team pioneered a way to not only conduct adverse-impact (bias) testing on assessments, but to actually mitigate any bias in the models.

This mitigation minimizes the levels of adverse impact typically found with assessments without negatively impacting the predictions of the models. The EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines are considered by IO psychologists to be the “gold standard” for fairness in pre-hire assessments and HireVue uses it for all assessment models. Standardized testing provides a level of transparency into hiring decisions that’s simply not available when pre-hire assessments aren’t used.

HireVue Pre-Hire Assessments Help Ensure a Legally Defensible Process

Corporations rely heavily on validated pre-hire assessments to add more objectivity and valid science to their hiring decisions and to ensure that those processes and decisions follow the legal guidelines for selection procedures.

HireVue’s rigorous adverse-impact testing follows all of the scientific standards to ensure the design of high-quality assessments.  Companies that use assessments that are tested and validated in this way have a very strong basis for defending their selection processes in a legal setting.

If you’re interested in learning more about how AI overcomes bias, watch my webinar, “How Humans and AI Overcome Hiring Bias.” 

On-Demand Webinar: How Humans and AI Overcome Hiring Bias 

About the Author

Dr. Nathan Mondragon is chief IO psychologist at HireVue discusses using pre-hire assessments to ensure a legal hiring process.Dr. Nathan Mondragon is chief IO psychologist at HireVue where he builds, researches, and maintains the AI-driven HireVue Assessment product. Nathan has more than 20 years of experience in the human capital management (HCM) space and is a recognized expert at blending IO psychology tools and technology to deliver seamless integrated recruitment, hiring, and development solutions. In 1996, Nathan helped lead the creation and delivery of the first-ever online selection assessment. In 2004, he built, from the ground up, the first integrated assessment solution within an enterprisewide applicant tracking system (ATS) (Taleo). And in 2015, as part of HireVue, he delivered the first-ever AI-driven pre-hire assessment solution. Nathan received his Ph.D. in industrial- organizational psychology from Colorado State University. Find him on LinkedIn.


Feature photo by Rob Girkin on Unsplash.