BOX 6.1 Structured Assessment Methods

Structured assessment methods are procedures used to evaluate the skills, abilities, competencies, personal characteristics, or experience of a job applicant or job incumbent. There are many types of structured assessment, ranging from interviews to pencil-and-paper cognitive ability tests, but all have three features in common: standardized administration, consistent scoring rules, and empirical evidence that scores are job-related.

Structured assessment methods are more likely to be used for lower-level jobs than for managerial, executive, or professional jobs. The reason is that lower- and mid-level jobs generally involve a small set of clearly defined tasks, while the responsibilities and duties of managers and professionals are broader and more variable. As a result, it is easier to analyze lower- and mid-level jobs and to develop assessment methods that can accurately predict future performance in these jobs. Nevertheless, some structured assessment methods, including work samples and simulations and assessment centers (discussed further below) have been developed and tested on managerial and professional jobs.

Among employers who do use structured assessment methods, the following types of structured assessments are most widely used in hiring and evaluating employees. These methods, when used individually or in combination, provide good opportunities for IT employers to find qualified workers from groups that heretofore may have been overlooked.

Assessments of experience, background, and biographical information. To assess prior experience and other biographical information, many employers rely on applicant-written resumes. However, research suggests that underperformers tend to overrate their abilities, while overachievers tend to underrate their abilities, and in fact many applicants “tune” their resumes to match the skills required by the opening. An alternative is to construct empirically validated systems that can evaluate and score biographical data obtained from resumes, job applications, or other sources. These systems hold great promise as assessment tools and are among the most valid and cost-effective methods of assessment for hiring.

structured assessment methods have been shown to facilitate the selection of highly productive workers,27 though the utility of these methods


Murphy and Byrne, 2000, “Applications of Structured Assessment in the IT Workforce,” commissioned paper.

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