Understanding Cut Scores: They’re Not Just Random Numbers!

Our tests are unique in that often the same assessment is recommended for a variety of different positions. Unfortunately, the versatility of our assessments is sometimes confusing for new users. After all, how can the same test work for a fast food cashier and a CEO?   

The answer lies in identifying an appropriate cut score for the assessment based on the competencies, skills, and/or personality traits required for the job. In the example above, a fast food cashier and a CEO both require cognitive ability to successfully perform their jobs, and therefore a measure of cognitive ability might be recommended for either position. However, the level of ability required to be successful at these jobs is vastly different, so we identify the appropriate cognitive ability level (or score) based on the requirements of the job.

We work with our clients to identify the relevant competencies, skills, and personality traits required for their positions. We then recommend assessments and identify cut scores for each test based on the characteristics of that particular job. Assessing each candidate and discovering how closely they match to job requirements is what our tests are all about!

How Do We Know What’s a “Match?”
There are 3 ways we can identify which of our assessments to use and to determine cut scores based on the job requirements. 

1.       Many of the cut scores that we recommend are based on information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database, which provides job descriptions and average competency ratings on over 900 of the most common positions. Utilizing the O*NET data, along with our extensive experience in employee assessment and job analysis, we can create recommended cut scores for each position available through O*NET. This allows clients with standard positions to get up and running very quickly. 

2.       For clients wanting an additional level of thoroughness and documentation, or for those that have unique positions, we can perform a job analysis. By interviewing subject matter experts and taking a closer look at the specific job, we’re able to pinpoint the exact competencies, skills, and personality traits that are needed for the position. We compare that information to the O*NET data and our previous analyses, and from there, we recommend custom scores for each test that will be used. 

3.       For clients that want to base cut scores on their existing employees, we can perform a study to discover the competencies, skills and traits that are already documented to be job-related. We analyze current employees (a minimum of 25 employees per position). We also do a job analysis on the position. Then we combine the information from both analyses to determine recommended cut scores.

For an even deeper look into the makeup of an organization’s workforce, we can also collect performance data on employees and conduct a local validation study in order to pinpoint appropriate assessments and cut scores that best predict successful performance.

What Do the Scores Mean?

The report for each test will show the candidate’s score, along with the recommended cut score. If an applicant scores below the recommended minimum, it doesn’t mean that they can’t do the job – rather such a score indicates that they are less likely to be successful in the particular position.

We’ve been testing people for over 75 years and, in that time, we’ve built up a tremendous database of job-related information. Combining our knowledge and experience with information from O*NET gives us a very unique and uniform way to help you choose your next employee.

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