Reproduced with permission from Daily Labor Report, 69 DLR A-6 (Apr. 11, 2016). Copyright 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). Employment Simulation Tests Are Double-Edged Sword.


April 11 — Employment simulation games that assess job candidates are gaining in popularity as an effective way to test applicants in “real-world” situations, but employers that use them should make sure they comply with federal laws, attorneys said at an American Bar Association conference.

From a management perspective, there are tremendous opportunities for employers to use employment simulation tests because the technology could simplify the “arduous process” of finding top talent, Shelby Skeabeck, a Baltimore-based attorney with Shawe Rosenthal LLP said. This is especially true for millennials, whose comfort with technology makes them a natural fit for using games in the hiring process, she told attendees of the ABA’s National Symposium on Technology in Labor and Employment April 8.

“When we first began applying our simulation technology to employment testing, we found that it more than doubled the accuracy of predicting job success,” said Joseph T. Sefcik Jr., president of Winter Springs, Fla. based Employment Technologies Corp., a developer of HR technology.

Testing simulations can be customized to an employer’s unique needs, Sefcik said. Simulations are based on vetted criteria of the job’s essential functions and the traits an employee must possess to succeed in the job, he said.

Sefcik gave two examples of simulations, one for a telemarketing employee and another for a customer service call-center job.

The entire design process is also vetted by panels of experts to ensure that the simulation accurately represents the demands of the job, Sefcik added, and the vendor monitors the hiring results for adverse impact.

ADA, Privacy Considerations

Several issues can come up for employers trying to implement these kinds of tests, according to Skeabeck.

The first thing to consider is the Americans with Disabilities Act, Skeabeck said. Employers will have to offer reasonable accommodations for candidates who may have disabilities such as attention deficit disorder or who are hearing or vision impaired, Skeabeck said.

While some solutions are as simple as increasing the volume on the test or moving the location of the testing, Skeabeck noted, there could also be a need for a third party reader or other more involved solutions to allow an individual to take the test to the best of his or her ability.

Skeabeck added that it is permissible under law for employers to give notice at the outset of the hiring process that there will be an employment test and request that candidates alert them if they need an accommodation. That does not remove the need for the employer to provide accommodation to a candidate who needs one but did not alert the employer ahead of time, she added.

Roland Behm, principal with Alembic Solutions LLC in Sandy Springs, Ga., said that using job simulation technology can come with other unanticipated risks.

“The use of this technology and its associated risks are not completely clear, and the industry—both technology and law—is trying to figure out how to make this testing compliant” with laws governing data and employment, he said.

The large amounts of data produced by this kind of testing need to be carefully stored and screened for sensitivity, Behm said. For example, a vendor could unintentionally gain access to medical data on a worker who needed an accommodation to take the job simulation test, he said.


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