HR Leads Business

Nov 15, 2019 | Clare Chiappetta

Designing Globally Valid Assessment Processes

Talent assessment professionals face a tough task: measuring individual candidates’ talent — and their potential. So how can we measure a person’s potential success?

The answer lies in using psychometric assessments that help recruiters determine each individual candidate’s values, motivations and personality traits. These assessments can predict behaviors and attitudes toward work. But any psych major will tell you that personality isn’t based solely on innate characteristics; it’s also a product of culture and environment. These are factors that must come into play as we design assessments.

As organizations expand across the globe, it’s important to ensure that assessments represent valid snapshots of individual personalities, regardless of location or culture. Measures used in the U.S. may not translate well to Southeast Asia, for example, which could result in bias and poor decision-making. So what can your organization do to avoid this bias?

Here are three ways to ensure that your assessment tests and procedures are both equitable and globally valid.

Use Validated Tools

For any psychometric assessment, validating your tools and measures is absolutely critical. This is especially true if your assessments will be used on a global scale. “It’s vital to make sure that all the tools you use are validated in the country — and specific culture — you need them for before you start using them,” says Jennifer Yugo, managing director at Corvirtus.

If you already have employees in those regions, you can give them the assessments and measure the results against your employees’ existing metrics, Yugo says. “If you don’t have a population to validate on, then it’s important to find an assessment provider who has worked in and validated their product in that culture,” she says.

No matter where your assessments come from, they must be validated throughout the process. “Starting with 10 times as many questions as you need allows you to scale down using a principal factor analysis,” says Dave Popple, founder and president of Psynet Group. “After the assessment is launched, it should be tested again using other statistical measures.”

Approach Linguistic Differences with Nuance

Once the tests have been validated, linguistic concerns have to be mitigated. But language doesn’t have to be a barrier anymore. Assessments can be translated, but they should take nuances into account. Certain phrases, for example, if translated directly, don’t convey the same cultural weight and meaning. “A forward and backward translation process ensures clarity,” Popple says. “The phrases that may not translate directly should be replaced with equivalents in other languages.”

This nuance should be carried throughout the assessment process. Assessment reports, for example, should be translated with the same care and nuance as the assessment itself. “The end user has to be considered,” Yugo says. “The linguistics of the assessment report should match the language of the manager who will be conducting the assessment.”

Use Design Thinking — Across the Spectrum

When it comes to the content of your assessments, it turns out that human traits don’t differ significantly across the globe. What you’re measuring for will stay the same across countries and regions, but what needs to change is context. “When we're trying to predict performance, there are core traits that exist in humans regardless of culture,” Yugo says. “The difference is understanding how cultural context might prompt someone to respond differently.”

To account for these global contextual differences, situational judgment scenarios can be used. Asking someone what they would do — as opposed to what they think of themselves — can minimize the pitfalls of cultural self-perception, Yugo says. “It really comes down to putting the candidate first and ensuring a positive experience, whatever cultural context they bring to the table,” she says.