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Construct Validity


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Construct Validity
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To understand construct validity, it is important to first understand what constructs are. A construct is a complex idea that contains a variety of conceptual elements. Generally, these elements are not based on empirical data or evidence. Rather, the elements in constructs are usually subjective and difficult to measure. Constructs are the essential ingredients used to create theories.


Examples of common constructs include: 


  • Logical reasoning

  • Self-esteem

  • Happiness

  • Intelligence

  • Motivation


In terms of HR, constructions can include:


  • Job satisfaction

  • Organizational commitment

  • Employee engagement

  • Cultural diversity

  • Learning and development

  • Employee turnover


Construct validity is one of the four types of measurement validity. Measurement validity refers to the extent to which a tool accurately measures what it is intended to measure. Construct validity is about how well a study or test measures the concept or construct it was designed to evaluate. 


It is important for an organization to asses construct validity when researching something that can’t be directly observed or accurately measured. This can include factors such as job satisfaction, intelligence, and logical reasoning ability. Organizations need multiple measurable or observable indicators if they want to accurately measure these constructs. Without careful measurement, companies are at risk of introducing research bias into the test or study. 


There are two primary subtypes of construct validity. 


  • Convergent validity: Convergent validity refers to the extent or degree to which measured constructs correspond to the measures of related constructs. With convergent validity, test results are compared with the results of similar tests that measure the same construct. If the tests are closely correlated, the test has a high convergent validity. 

  • Discriminant validity: Discriminant validity refers to the extent or degree to which a measured construct is negatively related or unrelated to the measures of distinct constructs. In many cases, these constructs should be related but are, in reality, unrelated. Results to determine discriminant validity are determined by the same process used to determine convergent validity. 


With both subtypes, the results for different measures are compared and assessed. 


Construct validity is crucial in HR practices, particularly when hiring or managing employees. Applying construct validity ensures that the tests, tools, and procedures used by HR professionals accurately measure the intended constructs. Without construct validity, organizations or HR departments may inadvertently measure distinct or unrelated constructs. 


Example of Construct Validity


Suppose a personality test is used in a company’s hiring process. In this scenario, the HR department must validate that the personality test accurately measures the traits they claim to measure.


Another example is a structured interview, where questions are designed to assess specific competencies. With construct validity, the interviewer can ensure that the applicant’s responses indicate the candidate’s suitability for the role. 

Related Terms

Content Validity

assesses whether or not the instrument used fully captures a construct.

Concurrent Validity

is where a test correlates well with measures that are already validated.

Predictive Validity

is when the test accurately predicts future behaviors or outcomes. Like concurrent validity, predictive validity is one of the subtypes of criterion validity.

Discriminant Validity

is a subtype of construct validity and refers to the degree to which a test is unrelated to other tests measuring different constructs.

Face Validity

is the most basic type of validity. The content of a test appears to be appropriate to its intended purpose (“on the face of it” or “face value”).

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