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7 Myths About Talent Assessments

When leaders have the right data, they make fewer mistakes and reap greater rewards. With the right data, leaders can impact their organizations, improve the lives of those working with them, and boost the bottom line.

ID-100240931Many finding themselves in management ranks don’t have the correct data when selecting talent and they often wind up merely trusting their instincts only to discover that their personal preferences, past experiences, and multiple unconscious biases don’t regularly generate the results they need.

The result: lower profits, team disharmony, broken promises, and feelings of personal failure.

The good news is valid tools are available to assist leaders in selecting, developing, and retaining the best talent available. Those tools start with talent assessments but there are several myths surrounding their use. Most of these myths have come about due to uncertified practitioners either misrepresenting the assessment , misinterpreting it, or using it incorrectly.

Myths About Talent Assessments

1. MYTH: People can ‘game’ the answers

This is probably the most commonly held myth surrounding assessments. People assume that if they’re applying for a sales position, they can easily answer the questions in a certain way that puts themselves in the perfect light. If they’re applying for a position as a bookkeeper, they’ll simply answer them differently. It isn’t that easy. One aspect of the assessments we use asks the same question in 24 different ways. Another asks the same question in 12 different ways. Another asks participants to rate 18 different experiences from the best thing that can happen to the worst.

Additionally, brain research has discovered that when faced with these questions, participants answer the question truthfully in their minds first — ranking an experience in the incorrect order requires a conscious effort that, over the course of dozens of different questions and experiences, is extremely difficult to pull off consistently.

FACT: You can’t game our assessments. If someone attempts to manipulate them, the reliability score shows it … and at that point it becomes a question of integrity.

2. MYTH: Talent assessments put people in a box

This myth probably stems from those old worn out 9 Box Grids or a Meyers-Briggs test (which isn’t approved for talent selection). Those two, particularly the 9 box, really do categorize people, many times unfairly. Of course, Meyers-Briggs just adds a row and a column to get a 16 box grid.

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The first part of our assessment has 384 categories, the second has several hundred different combinations, and the third can go in any one of dozens of different directions. “In a box?” — hardly, at least not with our assessment products. Multiply 384 by 200 and then again by several dozen more.

Still, it’s a concern because no one wants to be classified or limited because of their preferences on an assessment. Employees with big goals and aspirations are particularly averse to being catalogued, even if they know they’re not exactly cut out for a particular position or role. But with so many combinations, our assessments are uniquely individualized while allowing supervisors and other team members to speak a common language and better understand each other. It’s the best of both worlds, showing both employee strengths and where development opportunities exist.

Fact: Our assessment products result is INDIVIDUALITY not categorization.

3. MYTH: Personal secrets will be exposed

So, am I an axe murderer?” That’s probably one of the most common questions during a debrief following an assessment. The honest answer is “I have no idea!” We don’t have an axe murderers check box. We also don’t know if you drink milk from the carton or if you play solitaire on your company computer or if you’re the one who ate all 6 remaining doughnuts in the break room.

The assessment is designed to identify behaviors, motivators, de-motivators, acumen, capacity, core-skills, and emotional quotient. It cannot make a conclusive determination related to specific experiences or events. With a proper debrief after an assessment, employees see this tool as an engine for advancement. Why? Their strengths are highlighted while any development needs can be properly addressed. Our experience is that – for the most part – employees WANT to do a great job and a validated, honest talent assessment helps them understand what they need to accomplish to advance in their career.

Companies like General Electric, Nissan, and AT&T have used these tools for selection, development, and career progression for years. The great thing is that assessments are scalable for firms with one or two employees all the way up to massive organizations with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees.

FACT: Assessments reveal nothing about specific individual experiences or future actions.

4. MYTH: Some people don’t perform well on assessments

By using an ‘ipsative’ approach, our assessments look at a participant’s preferences. There are no right or wrong answers. Do some people get still get nervous? Sure, but once they realize it isn’t a ‘test’ and they cannot ‘fail,’ they settle down pretty quickly.

FACT: Properly designed assessments don’t have a right or wrong answer so the correct answer is … whatever you think, feel, or believe is the best response. Simple as that.

5. MYTH: You’ll judge me

Hardly. Assessment providers rarely look at individual answers and the results are different for virtually every person. If anything, assessments prevent judging because they show the uniqueness of each individual.

Are some assessments used to determine job fit? Of course. You know people in your own life that find it easier to perform certain job functions than others. Assessment results help illuminate which career path makes the most sense based on the individual’s preferences and, should a different path be chosen, where development needs exist.

FACT: “Judge” you based on what? The fact that you’re unique … just like everyone else?

6. MYTH: They aren’t reliable

The assessments we use undergo regular data norming, examination of Cronbach’s alpha, use structured equation modeling, sampling and routinely conducted data analysis to provide the most validated and accurate assessment products possible. The research is conducted from a non-discriminatory data pool of millions of individuals collected over three decades by a research team with more than 90 years of business, academic and neurological experience.

Because of our commitment to research and validity, we have achieved full EOCC and OFCCP compliance. Only a highly limited number of assessment providers have achieved that level of compliance and validity.

FACT: Assessments administered by a certified professional using a TTI assessment are beyond reliable. TTI goes to great lengths and expense to insure our assessments can be relied upon for selection and development decisions.

7. MYTH: We don’t have time to use assessments

A well run organization doesn’t have time NOT to. But if you’re batting 1.000 on hiring and you’ve never made a bad development decision, and your best people NEVER leave … you may not need them.

But if you ever feel like you’re:

  • A baby sitter – constantly refereeing turf wars and conflict in your workplace OR
  • A firefighter – running from one fire to another, unable to do your own job OR
  • Ready to fire half your staff and start over OR
  • Always saying, “This job would be so much easier if it weren’t for the people” then …

Using a 40 minute assessment for talent selection, employee development, and retention may make sense. Should you investigate it?

The average annual turnover in the US is 23%. For an organization with 100 employees, that’s a minimum of $110,400 in turnover costs. If those 23 are earning $50,000/yr, those costs skyrocket to over $225,000. Losing 23 executives could cost exponentially more, perhaps into the millions of dollars.

FACT: The time excuse is the weakest of them all when you weigh the benefits. A 45 minute assessment could insure you hire the best person for a position rather than take yet another shot in the dark.


Talent assessment provide solutions by providing data about an individual’s communication preferences, motivations, de-motivators, capacity and core business skills. They provide that data in an easy-to-read and understand format and, if your assessment provider provides a post-assessment debrief (why wouldn’t they?), supervisors and managers can get an individualized “How To Manage and Lead” manual for each employee.

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Certified as a Professional Behavioral, Motivators, and Emotional Intelligence Analyst, Ron Haynes specializes in using the science of TTI’s TriMetrix HD to help companies select and develop their top talent, create job benchmark solutions, and implement succession planning.

He has recently developed an auditing process to help organizations more accurately calculate true cost of employee turnover. It’s staggeringly higher than you think.

Need a solution to your employee challenges? Contact him at or at 870-761-7881.