Mar 21, 2024 | 3
Minute Read

Common Situations That Can Skew Assessment Results



Assessments can be life-changing in their value and insight; however, their use is limited by how willing a participant is to engage. Some common situations can also skew the accuracy of assessment results.

Here are a few situations to be aware of while using assessments. 

Environmental Factors 

Noisy Environment

If someone is in a noisy physical setting, they will likely find it difficult to think clearly and answer questions to the best of their ability. Being interrupted by others talking or asking questions also dilutes the ability to focus on the assessment fully. Assessments are best taken in a quiet, interruption-free environment. 

Toxic Work Environment

The emotional environment is also important; if the assessment-taker feels threatened or insecure in their workplace, they will likely have difficulty getting value out of the assessment. They may wonder how their results will be used or if this is a punishment. Fear of demotion or firing and a general lack of clarity can cause assessment-takers to skew results.

Trust is crucial! People need to know the assessment results will not be used against them in any way—diving into behavior, motivation, EQ, and more can be a vulnerable process. Honor their openness by explaining the purpose of the assessment and how their results will be used up front.

Taking Too Much or Too Little Time

On the starting page of each assessment is an estimated time needed to complete that assessment. Assessment-takers need to find a balance between taking too much or too little time. They should go with their first response, listening to a gut feeling when completing questions. They shouldn’t rush through reading and processing, but also shouldn’t spend too much time trying to analyze the question.

Starting and stopping the assessment can also skew results, which is why taking it uninterrupted is so important.

Outside Factors

Major Life Events

Any major life event—moving, getting married, the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, a shift in health, or even a global crisis—may skew assessment results.

During a period of change, it's likely that an individual’s perception of themself and ability to answer honestly is compromised. This isn’t conscious on their part; that’s why TTI recommends waiting three months after a major life event to take an assessment.

Unclear Job Description

If someone is overworked or trying to manage too many responsibilities at once, it can show up in their assessment responses. They might be unsure of which version of themself to answer, which makes everything less clear.

Language Translation

If an employee is multilingual, it’s imperative to take the assessment in their native language. Vanessa Boettcher, Vice President of Global Distribution, speaks four languages, and her brain scan image below shows the strongest connection to the word “enthusiastic” in her first language, Spanish.

“Even though I have spoken English during my entire adult and professional life, my report is still most accurate when I respond in my native tongue,” she says. 



Emotional Factors

Negative Past Experience with Assessments

The way assessments are administered is crucial to their success. If an individual has experienced mistrust in the workplace, they will likely experience stress by taking another assessment.

They also might not believe in the benefits of assessments if they don’t know how their results will be used or haven’t experienced proper follow-up before.

Trying to Fit the Job Benchmark

If someone wants to be promoted or selected for a position, they might try to manipulate their answers. This pressure can skew the results.

“I’ve seen this happen before,” said Cassandra Nelson, Facilitator & Curriculum Designer at TTI. “For example, some people believe that if you are in a Sales position, you need to be Direct and Outgoing, with high scores in Dominance and Influence. If they’re under that impression, they will answer in a way that fit that perception. However, it actually depends more on the type of sales. Long-term or detailed sales could benefit from someone with high Steady and Compliance scores.”

Lack of Self-Awareness

This might sound overly critical, but it’s more common than you think! Many people simply don’t have awareness about their behavior, motivation, or skills, depending on the assessment.

If someone doesn’t have a strong handle on their own capabilities, like their strengths and limitations, they might be more likely to misrepresent themselves, skewing the accuracy of their assessment results.

Make the Right Moves with Assessments

While utilizing assessments, it's essential to recognize common situations that can distort the accuracy of results. From environmental factors like noise disruptions to emotional aspects such as past negative experiences, each element can significantly impact the outcome.

Understanding and mitigating these factors enhances the reliability and usefulness of assessment results, fostering a more effective talent development strategy.

Are you looking for more insights into assessment use? Take a look at our sessions at Forty Forward for just a glimpse at the opportunity to deepen your understanding and find new, innovative ways to use assessments. 


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Jaime Faulkner