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Validating Skills Testing

The most crucial concept underlying the use of pre-employment assessments is validity. The question is never just "Is this test valid?"

The real question: "Is this test valid for this intended purpose and does it support the decisions that are going to be made?"

What is validity?

Validity measures how appropriate a test is for a specific purpose. A test may be considered valid for one use and invalid for another. Validity is the degree to which evidence and theory support specific interpretations and uses of test scores.

Why do pre-employment tests need to be validated?

In 1978, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) created guidelines to ensure that the knowledge gained from testing is applied with impartiality to protect minority applicants from discriminatory employment procedures. Aaron Wallis is committed to applying and upholding these guidelines to ensure that the tests that you administer are developed in compliance with the EEOC Guidelines.

What's the best method of validation?  

The guidelines do not state that one method is better than another is; the method used must fit the needs of the business or organization.

There are three methods of validation set forth by the EEOC:

Criterion Validity

If data demonstrates that a test is significantly correlated with a vital measure of job performance, the test is said to demonstrate criterion validity. If all the current managers that scored highly on a selected test to measure project management skills completed their projects on time and under-budget, the test would demonstrate criterion validity.

Construct Validity

The term construct is a technical term for personality traits like intelligence and creativity. Construct validity is demonstrated if a test measures traits that have been found to influence successful performance of a job. A test that measures the interpersonal communication skills of a potential customer service representative would probably demonstrate construct validity.

Content Validity

Content validity is demonstrated if the questions that make up an assessment are representative of content that is required to perform a particular activity or task. A test made up of algebra questions given to an applicant for a math teacher's position would demonstrate content validity.

Aaron Wallis tests are provided by Kenexa Prove It! and are content validated and focus on real-life scenarios and knowledge-based actions to assess the skill level of a particular skill set.

For example, Aaron Wallis currently offers many tests applicable for an Administrative Assistant. Unlike criterion-based studies, we do not have one test that covers every aspect of the job position, but offer you several tests that cover the diversity of skills for your particular hiring needs. We also do not determine whether an applicant has the right demeanour or personality (construct validity) to be an Administrative Assistant, for example. You get to pick and choose those tests that cover the facets of the job description that are important to you. The important thing to note is that each of these must be actual skills used on the job.

Methodologies for content validity studies require documentation that a test results in a balanced, representative and bias-free assessment of the test takers knowledge base of a particular skill set. Such documentation is derived from content analysis, evaluation of the target skill, and unbiased examination; this is systematically conducted and reported by the Content Validation Experts.

Customer Responsibility in Maintaining Content Validity

Content validity is situational. While Aaron Wallis is committed to ensuring internal content validity, it is also the responsibility of the test administrator to ensure external validity. Internal content of a test may be valid, but can become invalid if administered improperly. Test administrators are responsible to conduct any testing in compliance with the EEOC Guidelines.

The First Step of Customer Compliance

Only administer assessments that test skills that will be employed on the job. For example, do not administer a Java 2 test to someone that will not be working with Java 2 on the job. By conducting a study on the skills required for each position, you will gain greater knowledge of your applicants' abilities as well as ensure that your testing is in compliance with the EEOC Guidelines.

The Second Step of Customer Compliance

Review the content of each test before administering. The content of the test must fit the skills required for the position. If, upon review, you find that the content falls outside of the core responsibilities of the job, reassess your initial choice of tests or edit existing Prove It! tests to craft the perfect assessment to meet your needs.

The Third Step of Customer Compliance

Review the skills that are job applicable and which you would like to test. Can the skill that you would like to test feasibly be taught in a brief on the job training period? The EEOC Guidelines specifically state that a pre-employment test should not cover skills that conceivably could be learned in a brief, on the job orientation.

Cutoff Rates

A common misconception is that validation can be employed to create cutoff rates for pre-employment decision-making. Although our experts define common levels of proficiency, it is the test administrator's responsibility to define acceptable scores based on insight into the job requirements as well as situational concerns. Based on the data provided by the test results, the test administrator should be able to interpret the skill level of the test taker and have a great basis for conducting further analysis or validation studies.


An important item to remember when interpreting test scores is that the tests' scoring methodologies are different from those employed in academic institutions. For example, a 58% score does not reflect "failure." Rather, it reflects the percentage of questions within a skill level, skill type, and task that the test taker answered successfully. Prove It! tests are created to provide well balanced tests; if the position does not require all of the skills that an original test checks for, and/or does not require advanced knowledge, a 58% score may be acceptable. Taking the time to edit your selected tests to the position's needs will result in more accurate data and higher scores.

If you have any questions regarding score interpretation or test validation, please feel free to contact Aaron Wallis. We will be happy to discuss at length those procedures that are conducted to ensure content validity as well as your responsibilities towards EEOC compliance.

For a full Validation Report contact Rob Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis.

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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Our employers say...

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Our candidates say...

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles sought to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate