Can You Test Me Now? – Implications of Remote Testing

Many HR practices are guided by large bodies of quality research-based evidence that are continually evaluated and refined. However, there are many instances where practice and technology are ahead of the science. For example, remote unproctored internet testing (UIT) has experienced a boost with the increased sophistication of technology, but the jury is still out regarding its impact on test performance. The 2011 Global Assessment Trends report from SHL PreVisor indicates that 83 percent of participating organizations allow external candidates to complete assessments remotely in unproctored online environments.Further, over 30 percent of participating HR professionals responded that they would allow test takers to complete UITs on their mobile devices or smart phones.

While unproctored remote and mobile online test administration can offer serious advantages of convenience for both candidates and test administrators, employers should proceed with caution. In many cases, testing vendors do not properly adapt tests for varying administration methods and the differences in administration methods may systematically impact test takers’ reactions and test performance. For instance, research on contextual effects (i.e., features of test administration) indicates that a number of factors including test environment (e.g., distractions), type of test, proctored versus unproctored testing, screen size and resolution, scrolling, connection speed, and device type (e.g., computer, smart phone, etc.) have potential to negatively influence test results and/or participant reactions. Although the magnitude of these effects was typically small, it is critical that tests be re-administered, recalibrated, and renormed when new methods are introduced. The benefits of not having to coordinate and proctor test takers as they push pencil to paper at your physical location may be great, but it is prudent to discuss the potential issues and remedies for UIT or mobile testing with a testing professional before adopting such practices.