Workplace Culture

Dear Workforce How Do We Use Performance Tools to Assess Applicants With Special Needs?

By Staff Report

May. 3, 2011

Dear The Fair Thing:

The range of needs you have identified is pretty broad. Not all of these needs can be dealt with in the same way. I think it’s important to separate English as a second language , or ESL, from the other two special needs you mention. In terms of ESL, there are definitely many tests available for determining someone’s level of English proficiency. Search the Internet or call one of the bigger testing companies to see what is available.

However, it is important that you fully understand the business need for such a test. Is ESL directly related to job performance? When it comes to pre-employment testing, it is critical that the test content be directly related to the job. (Otherwise you could run into legal issues—not to mention that the test will prove an ineffective tool for good hiring decisions.)

In terms of intellectual delays and mental health issues, although a lot of tools can identify these issues, none is really suitable for employment purposes. Most employment tests are meant to examine healthy adult traits such as personality or aptitude. These tests would not really detect more specific disabilities, other than that an individual with cognitive issues may score more poorly on most tests. Most of the tests used for mental-health screenings are totally out of place in the work environment. They measure nonwork-related attributes and are intended for use in clinical settings.

Most employers just assume that all applicants are functioning at a level of mental health that will allow them to perform their jobs effectively. Serious mental pathologies usually preclude someone from holding a normal job.

My advice: Avoid using any test that is not directly related to an applicant’s ability to perform specific job duties of the position for which you are hiring. Failure to do so will render the test ineffective and potentially place your company in legal jeopardy.

SOURCE: Charles A. Handler, Rocket-Hire, New Orleans

LEARN MORE: Please read why experts say pre-hire assessments should never be the only determining factor in your hiring decisions.

Workforce Management Online, May 2011Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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