It is shocking how many smart companies are sold old assessment products that haven’t been current in their industry for decades. Assessments are not like fine wine. They don’t get better with age. What they do is keep those companies from using better and more accurate information.
Assessments are “blind products,” meaning that few people have the technical knowledge about psychometrics to recognize outdated item formats when they see them. They don’t know the limitations of older products or the improvements that are available today. To make it worse, the older and outdated products are often more expensive than the newer generations.
The most common of these are well known simply because they have been around since the 1940’s and earlier. Psychometrics and psychology are sciences that have advanced just as other sciences. Imagine using a telephone from just twenty years ago, or a television, computer or even golf clubs. Those differences are obvious.
The way to recognize an outdated assessment instrument is to look at the the way the questions are asked and answered. Two of the oldest formats are:
• Adjective checklists - The participant is asked to check the words that best describe them.
• Most - Least - The participant is presented with sets of three or four words or phrases. They are asked to select the word or phrase that Most describes them and the word or phrase that Least describes them.
Both of these formats have serious flaws in terms of producing accurate and reliable information. While they are interesting for individuals, the information is woefully inadequate for business applications. Despite this fact, such things are promoted and marketed vigorously to unsuspecting business owners and HR professionals.