Ethical Considerations in Employment Testing

by Laurie Wink - Updated September 26, 2017
Employers may ask job candidates to take tests during the employee selection process.

Employers can use a variety of tests to screen job applicants. Tests vary from aptitude, personality and medical tests to credit and criminal background checks. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers should make a good faith effort to consider ethical issues involved in creating, administering and interpreting employment tests.

Validity

Members of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology say validity is an important factor in creating employment tests. A test is valid if its content directly relates to the ability to perform the job in question. Jeffrey Norris of the Equal Employment Advisory Council notes that employers should review employment tests regularly to make sure they reflect current job requirements.

Administration

According to best practices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the procedures and conditions when a test is given should be consistent. For example, test administrators should make sure the room lighting and noise levels are the same for all job candidates. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology says test administrators should give the same set of instructions to each applicant, for example explaining whether calculators can be used or questions can be asked during the test.

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Interpretation

Erica Klein, of the "Ask the Headhunter" website, says employers compare results of employment tests to those of a good employee in the same job. For example, Klein says, if a customer service job requires communication skills and attention to detail, the candidates who have scores closest to those of a good customer service staff member will most likely get hired. In other words, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology notes, test scores can't be interpreted without identifying a range of scores, from good to poor, based on the scores of the target group.

About the Author

Laurie Wink has been a professional writer since 1976. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "Washington Post" and "Technology Review." Wink holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from Central Michigan University. She also earned a Master of Arts in journalism and a Doctor of Philosophy in college and university administration from Michigan State University.

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