Report Finds Objective Assessments Crucial for Federal Government Hiring Success

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Agencies need better way to identify skills and competencies required to do the job well

PDRI, a PreVisor Company

The weakest link: the lack of objective assessments to measure skills and abilities required to do a job well.

In a report released last week by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service (PPS), findings showed the key driver limiting the Federal Government’s ability to identify and hire the best possible candidates is the lack of effective assessment of job applicants.    

PDRI, a PreVisor Company, is a leading research and consulting firm in the field of industrial-organizational psychology and sponsored the report. The Weakest Link: How Strengthening Assessment Leads to Better Federal Hiring provides a detailed view of the federal hiring process, identifies obstacles faced by HR staffs and hiring managers in assessing job applicants, and offers recommendations for improvement.

“One of the most important findings in the report points to the weakest link: the lack of objective assessments to measure skills and abilities required to do a job well,” stated Dr. Elaine Pulakos, COO, PDRI. “Working in the field of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, we have clearly seen the value of assessments as documented in research studies over decades. The data gathered for this report clearly shows government focus groups recognized the need for better assessment.”

Following the release of the report, Dr. Pulakos and Josh Joseph, PPS, answered questions about the report findings on Federal News Radio. They discussed key challenges to the federal government’s ability to identify and hire skilled, capable and dedicated employees. Findings include:

  •     Key players in the federal hiring process — hiring managers, human resources professionals, agency leaders and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — often do not work collaboratively to assess job candidates;
  •     HR staffs frequently have limited resources, competencies and training needed to assist and guide hiring managers with their assessment of job applicants;
  •     Agencies view assessment too narrowly and miss out on good candidates;
  •     Flawed IT systems hinder assessment and hiring; and
  •     Agencies don’t have reliable and useful data to indicate if their assessments are working.

When asked what should be done to correct the problems, Dr. Pulakos stated, “Agency leaders need to get behind this effort, not just leave it to HR. Leaders need to take a stronger role in reviewing the process, support training and communications efforts, and budget for development of assessments. We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to do great hiring within the government. OPM is leading the way by creating reliable assessments that will be made available across agencies for certain job types.”

To download a copy of The Weakest Link report, go to

PDRI designs, develops and implements human resource solutions that incorporate the most recent advances in the behavioral sciences and adhere to the highest principles of professional practice.

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to revitalize the federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.

Media Contact:
Donna Lehman
Office: 770-565-7275
Cell: 770-362-9287


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