This paper talks about testing in specifically psychometric testing that is used by employers in screening employees in the selection process at organizations. After a brief introduction to what psychometric is all about, it analyzes critically this method of choosing employees with respect also the disadvantages and advantages of this type of testing. The paper then concludes itself with discussion of the growth of psychometric testing in relation to its success factors leading on to the final concluding paragraph. INTRODUCTION Psychometric testing is being used for decades now, changing its forms while absorbing technological improvements.
It is used as an essential element in the screening of employees at the workplace to thereby increase work effectiveness in terms of selection of the right candidate for the right job. Not only in the selection process, but this type of testing is also used in other areas namely, promotion, training, advisory services in terms of Human Resource management, planning and development. Psychometric testing is used as a tool for deciding upon the winning qualities of employees to get a better understanding of which employee to further develop upon and how, and which to spend different training resources on etc.
This type of testing basically uses questionnaires that are made by professional test makers who also undertake analysis of the results with the help of an organizational psychologist. The verdict/s reached thereby is then considered final and accurate to a great extent. Psychometric tests have been categorized into: Ability tests, Motivation tests, Attitude and perception, Projective techniques (TAT), Personality inventories, Organizational climate surveys, Employee satisfaction surveys etc. (TVRLS, 2006)
Psychometrics is the field of study belonging to the zone of psychometric testing, and is used as an indicator of measurement of abilities, attitude, perception, skills, personality traits including team playing, leadership qualities etc. The two major components of this type of study are: Construction of the method or procedure in testing and improving upon the qualities of the test in terms of analysis and judgment (Golombok, n. d. ). There are many other fields of study that are pertinent directly or indirectly to this type of testing.
Firstly, there is the classical test theory (CTT) and item response theory (IRT). There is also the Rasch model that aims at the requirements when measuring educational and work indicators in terms of physical sciences. Secondly, in relation to correlation and finding out variation in the results there are many techniques including factor analysis, multidimensional scaling, data clustering, structural equation modelling, and path analysis. These few methods aim at finding out what data easily fits into the population that is being tested through a sample and how.
(Hogan, 2006) Screening techniques in firms and organizations could range from traditional manual shifting of applications to sophisticated usage of psychometrics. Recruiters immensely make use of online resources or help search for criteria important in measuring the candidates’ qualification (Suff, 2005). Psychometric tests undertake the study of assessment in terms of psychological assessment of individual with respect to five criteria that each test possesses. These are: – Validity: measures what the test is supposed or has been designed to measure
– Reliability: the results in the end are in line with the research that was taken and will not change if the test is undertaken again keeping certain factors constant – Standardisation: the instruments used in the test, timing, instructions, test items, scoring techniques are all same for each candidate – Objectivity: there is no deterring of results due to biases caused by subjective decisions or favouritism etc. There should hence be no variation in scores according to these criteria.
– Differentiation: tests that have been undertaken have been designed to account for differences and the results should show no effect of the candidate’s personal traits and facts like ethnicity, religion, gender etc. (unless the test aims to measure these as a factor). (Dent & Curd, 2004) CRITICAL ANALYSIS The question that arises now is about the significance of these tests in our lives revolving around the workplace and in specific the corporate world. Psychometric testing is useful, yes but how can it be used, as a measure of success in employee selection, is the most important pointer here.
Psychometric tests are used in assisting with the selection process to help predict future employee performance and hence to help in planning out the desired outcomes against these predictions. These tests are economical and efficient, and facilitate the test givers in the attainment of information quickly while cutting down on the money cost also. They are not prone to subjectivity biases when they are objective and hence aid in increasing fairness in decision-making.
Apart from finding out the right person for the right job, these tests help recognize development needs, increase motivation and correct stress factors for employees which have a negative impact on their productivity levels if not removed or minimized. (Dent & Curd, 2004) Psychometric tests have evolved from the need to examine ability and resulting output in work situations. The two types of psychometric tests when broadly put, these being: As a measure of ability, verbal or numerical reasoning and as a measure of personality traits and work situations, and what leads to the correct or the best fit.
Analysing the usage of tests carries utmost importance when it comes specifically to the choice in terms of what test is to be used in a given situation. This requires deep analysis of the kind of job at hand and then testing candidates to determine the kind of traits needed for that job. On measuring job performance the formula that needs to be remembered is skills + attitude + process + knowledge = Success! However useful this argument holds for psychometric tests, their validity and usage, as a tool in selection of employees is considered controversial also.
The difficulty here lies in the fact that people who are being testes sometimes do not give their true answers and get prone to achievement of success with the formula given above, except that the attitudes, skills etc might just be their ideal states in their minds and not something that exists within them in real. This “lying” on the tests and hiding true meaning of their traits makes accurate judgments difficult and hinders the attainment of absolute fairness in decision-making.
And this is also when frequently, psychometric tests are said to be not useful and prone to inaccurate collection of data and information. Hence in many organizations, the usefulness of these tests remains limited and is only to the extent of informing about the decision and not actually making it. Therefore, no matter how glittery the success formula looks, the inefficiency prone to this testing can rid an organization of valuable employees (those who had most probably not lied on the test). (Farrington, 2007)
The ethical use of psychometric tests is also another factor that requires discussion in terms of a critical analysis of this topic under dissertation. It is highly essential that the information used by these tests is relevant to the purpose do study, is accurate and does not probe too much into the personal lives of the candidates so as to stay away from intrusion of their privacy. The test should undertake the tester’s competence, procedures and techniques used, and the client welfare to make sure that these guidelines corresponding to each is followed. The test users must be adequately qualified and trained.
Results should not be leaked out or sold to any third parties or even other candidates and should only be available to the test takers who will need it to analyse and conclude the tests. Feedback needs to be offered to the people who have taken the test or the candidates to counter any negative effects of the test that was left on them. These tests should not discriminate against gender, race or ethnicity and even disability and age. All test materials need to be secured completely to ward off any unauthorized access to the information provided by these tests.
A few of the common tests that are present, measure ability, aptitude, personality, interpersonal skills and relationship awareness etc. (Dent & Curd, 2004) With respect to the five criteria mentioned earlier, a study showed that where selection, assessment and training are concerned, cognitive ability tests and work samples were found out to be most valid. Also, the results of this study showed that interviews were most practical. Results from tests involving knowledge assessment, personality tests involving motivation, satisfaction etc showed that these were most popular with prospective employers.
(Mok et al, 2008) CASES FOR PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS Psychometric testing provides organizations and any test givers a very commanding way of guaranteeing the selection and employment of the best candidates through their thorough analysis in terms of ability and preferred behavioural styles. Psychometric testing allows the pre-hiring screening becomes more popular because validity is a criterion that is usually always met and hence this form of testing becomes more preferred. Usually, it also includes IQ testing also along with personality test to enable the organization to gain valuable insight into the issue at hand.
Time is saved, as prospective employees are able to learn constructive things that without psychometrics would have been very hard or time consuming to learn. The HR Department hence becomes a powerful unit as it realized true matching of the employee’s personality traits with the characteristics of the company. Financial benefits to the company have also been seen where psychometrics are involved in the process of hiring. Through the availability of technological advances like LAN and the Internet, companies are able to easily administer these tests also.
Cost benefits are achieved as eventually companies in the best-case scenario able to learn which employees will stay with the company longer than the others. (Vaid, 2007) Some of the benefits provided by psychometric testing are: 1. Efficiency: psychometric testing improves efficiency in selection and decision-making when it comes to human resource recruitment. Most suitable candidates are hence chosen thereby making maximum use of time, cost and efficiency. 2. More informed recruitment decisions: objective information is provided by these tests to ensure the occurrence of an informed decision-making.
3. Aid to interviews: interviews do not provide all information necessary to conclude upon which candidates are best for that particular job. Hence these tests are highly useful to especially those recruiters who are not much proficient in testing or analyzing a candidate. 4. Tried and tested: these tests now have been offered by many agencies that are used for outsourcing these tests by companies. Also, companies themselves now use many different psychometric tests in the selection process today. 5.
Business needs: these tests are in direct relation with the needs of human resource of organizations, and hence fit perfectly to the purpose of these organizations 6. Potential of an individual: an individual’s skills and attitudes along with perceptions are thoroughly weighed through these tests that are not provided by interviews as such. 7. For all levels of staff: these tests are even more helpful since they are appropriate enough to be used at all levels in the organization. 8. Easy to understand: these tests are easy to understand, as their language is unproblematic and simple.
They also hence are not prone to discrimination against ethnicity, language or region when they follow the five effective criteria of testing as mentioned earlier in this paper. (Psychometric Testing, n. d. ) 9. Job profiling: this can be done even before the interview takes place, so that key skills and abilities for a particular position in the organization can be further made clear before interviewing the person about it. 10. Useful information: these tests help in providing useful and complete information as to how functional an employee will be in terms of performance in a particular position. (Oriel Training, n. d.
) 11. Professional: psychometric tests make the entire selection process look more formal and professional 12. Objectivity: it adds objectivity to the whole process. 13. Time saving: maximum amount of information is collected in minimum time. 14. Flexibility: due to the use of technology, tests are administered with more flexibility. 15. Self-awareness: when it comes to development of the employees, these tests can help point out the negative factors that should be erased and positive ones that need highlighting and promotion. 16. Cost-effectiveness: when used appropriately, they also provide cost advantages to the firm.
(Vaid, 2007) CASE AGAINST PSYCHOMETRIC TESTING It is essential to make sure that the correct procedure in testing is followed including the process of selection, administration, feedback and analysis. Failure on the part of the test giver to do can result in ill communication and analysis often results leading to cynicism, anger, and dissatisfaction. Some of the disadvantages of psychometric testing are: Initial training can prove to be more expensive and costly, Provision of feedback is mostly deemed essential but can waste a lot of time, Uneasiness and resistance shown by the participants can hinder collection of true results.
These tests need to be paired with some other form of assessment because complete reliance on them can prove to be not useful at all to the company. Lying or hiding of true information about oneself can result in portrayal of a false picture to the prospective employer, leading to making of false or inaccurate decisions on his/her part (Dent & Curd, 2004). It is very difficult for an untrained eye to find out which is the correct psychometric test to use and employ, due to the high availability of various types of tests in the market.
This involved correct decision in terms of choosing the right test for that organization because if this is not done then the results will not be relevant to the organization and the issue at hand. There are many cases where people administering these tests are not qualified or have not been trained enough to correctly administer these tests, hence it is imperative that in order to get the maximum out of these tests, organizational psychology courses need to be offered for training of these test administrators.
It should also be understood that these tests provide results that are not hundred percent valid and reliable, so as to not take the effect of many external factors can result in large negative consequences to the organization which is often the case. (Team Focus, 2004) SUCCESS FACTORS Many managers do not make good interviewer and this is where again psychometric testing comes in handy. Studies have shown that many managers and interviewers focus on their ‘gut feeling’ when it comes to hiring employees. Also, another important factor that they use is the candidate’s ability through his skills attained at School/ College etc.
This is information; one can easily read off and understand through the Curriculum Vitae of that candidate. The success factor of psychometric testing comes in our discussion when we say that the question about whether a candidate is behaviourally fit in an organization is something whose answer lies in the analysis undertaken through psychometric testing. In other words, how well an employee according to psychometrics will be able to match his personality traits with characteristics of the organization; and how this will impact his performance inside the organization henceforth. (Lievens & Peeters, 2008)
One type of psychometric test here exactly important to this kind of testing is the McQuaig System test which helps in outlining a behavioural profile of an employee with respect to the open position that candidate is applying for. Another success factor very essential to organizational development, is the basic fact that this outline can then be used to erase out the subjectivity biases attached to ‘gut feeling’ and help make out a prediction that is dependent on the technical ability of the candidate’s behavioural personality. There are various reasons for growth in the usage of psychometrics in the selection process.
A few of these are: 1. Especially when they are hiring employees legal obligations and regulations are met through the use of psychometric tests as they are now being awarded a status that is obligatory to follow and be used by organizations. 2. Test results are now found to be more useful than before because they have been in use for years now. The varied political and cultural state of affairs that pertain to an organization has changed. Also, there has been a shift in the climate of these organizations, which have become more varied in terms of diversity in religions, cultures, ethnicity and so on.
Tests hence when effectively designed and made help take these factors into account also. Equal employment opportunity is hence offered immensely well in most cases. 3. The costs of testing have decreased significantly because of the improved and increased use of Internet among many other technological advances. Computer based testing allows for flexibility, ease and quickness in adding up scores and summing up data probing organizations to indulge when more in such testing procedures 4. Human Resource policies are more formally and appropriately designed now to take into account a once much ignored resource- human resource.
5. Tests provide up-to-date information and when employing older employees, this becomes essential because then school qualification would prove to be outdated mostly. 6. Large organizations can use these tests to screen large number of applicants, who without the use of these tests and other computer based tests, would be almost humanly impossible to accomplish. (Psychometric success, n. d. ) CONCLUSION The use of tests, in particular those involving psychological analysis are here to stay as can be seen from their wide usage and growing popularity.
It remains however the duty of the employers to ensure that they remain professional, ethical, valid and reliable. Training is an essential component o the success of the usage of these tests in an organization to better analyze and understand the results depicted by these tests. Employers while undertaking the administration of these tests need to take a few things in perspective.
They should be clear about what they are measuring, what is the audience like, make sure that it is not indiscriminate towards any class etc., ensure proper training, provide adequate feedback, and also guarantee confidentiality of information, so that effectives can be reached along with success in usage of these tests. Effectiveness, all in all depends directly on giving importance to these factors just discussed so that any form of psychometric analysis is made productive. (Dent, & Curd, 2004) Bibliography Golombok, S. (n. d. ) Modern Psychometrics: The Science of Psychological Assessment. International Library of Psychology Hogan, T. (2006) Psychometric Testing: A practical introduction. Wiley. Dent, F. and Curd, J.(2004)
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