Context Validity of Psychometric and Skills tests

The biggest problem is not the tests themselves because academic professionals have invested in many years of study and research, including, successful tests of validity and reliability to develop them. The biggest problem is the application of these tests, often in the wrong context or by untrained recruiters who do not completely understand what the test is measuring (Luszez, & Kleiner, 2000). Baker, & Cooper (1995) investigated whether tests used by employers actually sampled or measured the personal attributes they wished to measure in an effective way.

They showed that 15% of test users did not, this failure to check alignment of the test to the qualities being sought is problematic since it may be difficult to show that the test is measuring qualities directly related to effective performance or genuine occupational requirements. This is one of the factors that can lead to complaints of indirect discrimination. This study also investigated the validity of testing in predicting success or failure. The validity of the test is crucial if it is to be worthwhile and serve both the interests of the employer and test takers.

Using a test with low demonstratable validity can lead to selection decisions, which disadvantage both parties and are potentially costly. Individuals may be rejected when they are entirely suitable and conversely may be accepted when they are unsuitable. For example, Integrated insist that recruitment consultants conduct a 12-minute work instructions test for all blue-collar workers. This would include a tradesman with certified trade papers who has a solid work history and two good references from previous employers.

The context that the individual is been employed under is to carry out the same trade skills that the individual has been carrying out in some cases for 20 or 30 years. This is one example of bad practice where the candidate feels that his time has been wasted and the extra test conducted contributes nothing to the recruitment process. At a time when tradesman are a valuable and sought after commodity organisations cannot afford to mistreat individuals with these sort of specialised skills.

Dakin, Nilakant, & Jensen (1994) examined the validity of personality testing and argue that it is not possible to determine whether there were consistent, meaningful relationships between particular traits and performance criteria in different occupations. Furthermore, they show that there are differential relationships between personality dimensions and performance criteria. This result highlights the limitations of trying to determine the overall validity of personality tests as a predictor.

The results indicate that, given the need to align personality traits with different occupational requirements, a likely reason for the low validity of personality tests is that current test batteries measure the wrong things. Overall this tells us that if personality testing is to be helpful it is incumbent on the employer to identify first characteristics of the job which are important, then identify personality traits which are relevant to those characteristics, and, finally, place greatest weight on those scales when interpreting test results. Conclusion

The battery of tests given to candidates in recruitment for non-executive positions should be fair, equitable and contribute meaningful information to the final selection decision. Conducting testing purely for the sake of it is a waste of time and money. If it is decided to conduct testing, it is best to specifically determine the reason and the objectives for doing so. (Luszez & Kleiner, 2000). Skills tests are useful for measuring tangible abilities and competencies directly related to the job requirements. In addition the testing should be administered and similarly, if required, interpreted by suitably trained persons.

In the low margin high volume market of blue-collar recruitment, personal factors such as reliability and loyalty would be much more valued traits than written English comprehension. The administration of a twelve-minute test does not produce a valuable return on investment when the individual is a casual employee who may work for the organisation for only one day. It seems Integrated, for the most part, is still in the dark ages with respect to critical issues relating to candidate testing. Archaic paper and pencil tests are used which have little to do with the context that the candidate will be operating in.

In addition, due to high internal turnover, consultants conduct interviews with little training in how to ask probing questions and get the important information out of an interview, which is deemed essential by Frank & Jaffee, 1995. The dangerous result of these factors is an over reliance on test scores that may not measure the right areas. Finally, personality tests may be much more effectively used as a means of structuring an interview, rather than as a single predictor. Indeed several of the respondents in the Dakin et al.

(1994) study reported that they used personality testing as a tool during interviews. They provide the results to the candidate, explaining what the client company was looking for. The results are then discussed and a careful exploration made of variances between the individual’s results and the clients expectations. This application provides a much fairer use of testing during the selection process. In conclusion for testing to be useful and fair it should be directly relevant to the job specifications and measure critical competencies essential for the successful performance of the job.

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