EMET – Culturally Fair Testing: A Review of the International Literature on Employment Screening Methods and an Examination of its Implications for Israel

There are significant efforts in Israel to promote better integration into employment of various minority groups.

EMET is a unique program developed by JDC-TEVET with the assistance of the Jewish Federation of New York. It originated from employers’ reported difficulties in hiring minority groups in Israel because of their poor performance on employment screening tests. EMET has been implemented in two stages: The first stage focused on gathering information as to how employment tests often act as barriers to employment for Ethiopian-Israelis; in the second stage, EMET is attempting to develop culturally fair employment screening tools and will test them on a diverse group of individuals including Ethiopian and Arab Israelis. EMET will then encourage employers and assessment centers to use these new screening tools.

The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute is conducting a study designed to assist in the development and assessment of the new tools. In all, the study accompanying the program comprises five main parts:

  1. an international literature review of employment screening methods
  2. in-depth interviews with Israeli employers who have adopted alternative screening methods to facilitate the hiring of Ethiopian-Israeli candidates
  3. an analysis of performance differences between Ethiopian-Israeli candidates and other candidates with the currently accepted screening tools
  4. interviews with Ethiopian-Israeli job candidates after a day of testing at an assessment center
  5. an examination of the ability of currently accepted screening tools and of new tools that are being developed by EMET, to predict job performance while also minimizing differences between minority groups and the majority group.

The current report consists of the literature review and findings from the in-depth interviews with the employers. The findings have served as a basis and guide for planning and implementing the subsequent stages of the program.

The goal of the literature review is to draw on the experience accumulated in other countries to identify screening tools that effectively predict job performance, yet do not show large gaps between groups. We discuss the diversity-validity dilemma, which stems from the fact that the screening tools that are most effective at predicting job performance also tend to show the largest gaps between groups. In addition, we report on some promising alternative tools that show smaller gaps yet are valid at predicting job performance.

This program and the accompanying study is the first of its kind in Israel and could have significant implications for expanding employment opportunities for minority groups.

The study was initiated by JDC-TEVET and the UJA-Federation of New York and funded with assistance from UJA-Federation of New York.