The Rationale Behind Assessments

The Rationale Behind Assessments

"The limits of my language are the limits of my universe" - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"To learn another language is to have one more window from which to look at the world" – Chinese proverb

Today, talent is the key lever to propel growth in any organization. Today's business environment is characterized by rapid change, hyper competition and technological advancements. Organizations need to manage talent effectively so that competent people are available to help them learn continuously, innovate and manage change; in order to navigate change and successfully deal with competition.

Effective talent management involves the following 3 important dimensions:

a) Recruiting people with the right set of competencies,

b) Developing new competencies in today's workforce, to meet the changing business trends and

c) Retaining people with the organization.


In order to manage talent effectively, the first step is to identify the set of competencies that are required in an organization for it to perform well and be successful. A competency is defined as an underlying characteristic of an individual, which causes the individual to perform better at work. The competencies that are required in one organization may differ from those required in another based on the nature of their respective businesses and the business context that they operate with. This set of competencies is called the competency framework of the organization.

Once a competency framework is evolved, a competency profile is developed for each role in the organization. A competency profile of a role is nothing but the list of those competencies in the organizations competency framework that are required for an individual to perform well in that particular role. A competency profile also mentions the competency levels that are required. For example, an entry-level executive might require a basic level of written communication, whereas a manager might require advanced level of written communication.

Increasingly, organizations are using competency profiles to make several people-related decisions including recruitment, selection, career movements, training, compensation and retention. For example, an organization should ideally recruit an individual who possesses all the required competencies at the defined levels for a particular role for which the individual is being considered.  Read More


How do we know that an applicant possesses all the required competencies at the defined levels for the role he or she is being considered for?

The answer is through assessments. Assessments are also commonly referred to as tests. Assessment or tests in the context of education and workforce development, is simply a systematic approach to gathering information about an individual and to measure certain attributes or characteristics of the individual. An assessment is always conducted for a specific purpose.

The information generated from an assessment can be used in a variety of ways; to aid in career related decisions of the individual and also in the efforts towards development of the individual. The information generated by an assessment is usually presented in terms of numbers. In the process of evaluation, marking is done keeping in mind a number of things which signify some quantitative meaning and are often referred to as scores.

Assessment is all about quantification of the attributes or characteristics of an individual. The information generated by assessments can be used to evaluate an individual against a set standard or even to compare two individuals with respect to an attribute or characteristic. For example, a well designed English Language skills test with a set of 50 questions can be called an assessment to measure English Language skills providing the tests yield consistent results for a considerably large population over a period of time. There is a scientific process to design and develop good assessments.


For an assessment to be effective and scientific, it must possess the following characteristics.

OBJECTIVITY : A test needs to be objective. The test items and scoring of the test should be free from subjective element, i.e., there should be complete agreement among experts regarding the meaning of the items and scoring of the test.

RELIABILITY : A good assessment is reliable. Reliability is the extent to which a test or assessment yields consistent results when the test is administered once or more than once on the same sample, with a reasonable time gap. The test or assessment would be considered internally consistent, if all the items of the test measure the same characteristic.

VALIDITY : A good assessment measures what it intends to measure. The degree to which an assessment measures what it claims to measure is called validity. For example, a test of mental ability would in fact measure mental ability, not some other characteristic.

NORMS: A test must also be subject to some norms. Norms refer to the average performance of a representative sample on a given test. Depending upon the purpose and use, the person conducting the test would follow these norms . Norms help in interpretation of scores. Non compliance of norms would render the results of the test unreliable.


As mentioned earlier, organizations differ in what they look for in candidates while recruiting. Each organization has its own unique business requirements. However, there are certain commonalities among organizations belonging to the same industry. Hence it is possible to identify clusters of competencies that candidates must possess to be selected for specific job roles. Based on the results of a standardized assessment which measures a variety of competencies, it is possible for a candidate to identify and understand which job roles and career paths are best suitable for him or her.

If a candidate undergoes an industry benchmarked assessment of a wide variety of competencies, a candidate will understand his current performance on those competencies and what are the performance levels which are required for getting selected. This will help the candidate in planning his or her preparation.

When an educational institution conducts such assessments, the report can clearly reveal the gap between the current level of competencies actually held and the required level of competencies for the job sought. Based on this, the educational institution can plan employability enhancement initiatives to develop the competencies among its students.

About the Author

Raju is the Chief Operating Officer of Globarena Technologies. Raju has over decades of successful and progressive experience in the education segment where he has effectively planned and implemented strategic learning and assessment initiatives for universities and technological institutions across India.

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