January 16, 2017

Predicting Employee Performance

Predicting employee performance with assessments

As the calendar turns to 2017, forward-looking HR leaders are focused on one question: How many of our employees will still be here next January?

High turnover, including voluntary separations, is a growing challenge. In the retail and food service sectors, two out of three hourly workers will be gone in a year, and the costs can be enormous.

That begs another question: Who should we hire to replace them?

More and more companies are now using employee assessments to help predict which applicants are more likely to succeed — and which ones to avoid. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of large U.S. employers using pre-hire assessments has more than doubled in the past 15 years.

“Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administer pre-hire tests in their job applications for some positions,” WSJ reported.

Choosing the right assessments

While hundreds of specialized assessments are now available, the most widely used and effective pre-hire assessments fall into three basic families, explains industry veteran Jim Plotkin.

“Integrity tests, cognitive ability assessments and personality questionnaires have been used for decades, and refined to be even more effective.

As for the high turnover rates, Plotkin notes that most job separations are now voluntary.

“Employees often quit their bosses, so it’s important to develop managers who can keep their people happy. You need to provide them with good coaching and training tools.”


1. Human Resources will become much more data-driven, with psychometric instruments playing a larger role.

2. More HR and loss prevention leaders will use pre-hire integrity tests designed to screen for counterproductive behavior like absenteeism and employee theft of all types.

3. For final selection and placement, more employers will use cognitive ability tests, combined with personality questionnaires, to improve job fit and retention.

4. Coaching and development tools will help managers become better bosses, and help increase retention of their direct reports.