OPQ

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Ability Tests

Ability tests measure a specific aptitude – an inherent talent.

If we are using ability tests to screen candidates for a role, we need to be really sure that we are screening for the right thing. Is a verbal reasoning test score really the measure of a great manager?

What are Ability Tests?

Tests are carefully and robustly designed to measure abilities objectively, and they must be completed under exam-like conditions to ensure the environment is as consistent as possible for all users.

Remember that ability tests only predict one small aspect of job performance – so you’ll need to have a clear idea of what else is critical to success in the role

What value do they add?

When the right test is used for the right reason, the validity can be greatly improved. This means that a correctly chosen ability test can measure how effective a person might be in a role better than any other single selection method. The key is in selecting the right test, and in recognising that the test only predicts one small aspect of overall performance.

For example, verbal reasoning test scores have been found to link strongly with job performance in management roles. This is hardly surprising given the demands on a manager’s communication skills. That said, verbal reasoning is only one part of overall management skill. Knowing a management candidate has strong verbal reasoning skill is a great start. What else do they have?

Ability tests add value to your selection process by telling you very quickly whether a candidate holds the inherent talents that are critical to success in the role. A common and valuable use of ability tests is in high volume recruitment, where it is great to use ability tests as a sifting tool.

What’s the downside?

Candidates tend to really dislike taking these tests, but then, those that are successful tend to consider that they have really ‘earned’ their place in the next stage of your process.

The major risk with these tests is that choosing the wrong test could mean that you are selecting against the wrong criteria.

How to gain maximum value

  • Complete a thorough job analysis before choosing test
  • Use tests as one part of your selection process, as they only measure one aspect of performance
  • Improve candidate perception by ensuring they know how the test relates to the requirements of the role and by giving them feedback
  • The BPS (British Psychological Society) ensures robustness in the design, publishing and use of ability tests – so make sure you use BPS approved tests, administered by BPS qualified users
  • Constantly review the process – are the tests providing you with strong candidates for the next stage of your process?
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Personality Profiling & Gaining Buy-In

Jelly Beans TotemWhen you recognise the value personality profiling can add, how do you sell it in?

At first glance, you’re trying to offer a process that adds time and money to recruitment. How could you possibly sell that idea?  Unless you are talking to someone who has previously used and found great value from personality profiles, these tools are at best a mystery, at worst, a waste of time.

Most people will at some point in their career have had contact with a personality questionnaire. To know what you are dealing with, it is therefore useful to ask the individual what experience they have had of these tools before.

The difficulty here is not that the tool is no good: It is all in the execution. Personality profiles are extremely useful when applied correctly, but through lack of time or experience, this is often not the case.

Make sure you are clear about the profiling service you are offering, how it adds value, how it works and what each party will receive. Then you can sell the benefits.

Benefits to the business

  • Find out information about candidates’ working preferences quicker and more efficiently than through hours of interviewing
  • The candidate receives feedback, providing a positive image of the business
  • Receive a report about candidates’ likely areas of fit to the role and tips on areas to question further at interview
  • Feedback from a business psychologist can reveal factors about the candidate that an interview wouldn’t necessarily provide. For example, their anxiety levels, social confidence, team approach and leadership style

Benefits to the candidate

  • Complete an online questionnaire and receive feedback on working preferences, providing useful insight into personal fit with the company and role
  • The feedback is a real two-way process and provides an opportunity to add “flesh on the bones” of the profile and explain responses
  • As the feedback is with an external business psychologist, there is the added benefit of gaining their insights based on a range of organisations and industries
  • As the recruiting manager is looking for someone that really fits with the company, the successful candidate will therefore be much more likely to enjoy the work and environment

Starting a conversation about profiling

This may be a helpful start…

“We now offer a personality profiling service, which allows you to learn more about a candidate in less time.”

If you would like more guidance on asking the right interview questions to really get under the skin of the candidate, we provide a service that can help with that.

 

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Situational Judgement Tests

“Organisation can never replace good judgement” – Louis D. Brandeis

What is managerial judgement? Is there really a right answer to the question of how to deal with critical incidents at work such as an underperforming team?

What are Situational Judgement Tests?

Known as SJTs, these tests measure managerial judgement, looking at how individuals would respond to certain scenarios. This can be further broken down to: Managing objectives, people management and reputation or corporate management.

You can buy off-the-shelf SJTs that will measure candidates’ responses against a set of pre-determined ‘best practice’ answers. Quite often though, companies require something more specifically designed to their own context and ways of working.

What value do they add?

Management of budgets, people and performance is a challenge to all new managers. We know that five years’ management experience does not necessarily make a good manager. SJTs allow you to test how someone would deal with the kind of issues common to business management. Or if you create a bespoke test, you can measure directly how someone would deal with your specific issues.

As with all psychometric tests, the value-add is in saving time. By using an off-the-shelf or investing in a bespoke SJT, you find out quickly how someone would deal with issues, rather than having to go through lengthy interviews. It is how we deal with these critical incidents that defines our success as managers, so you could do with knowing how well a candidate will match your needs – before it’s too late.

It’s not the only thing that matters, but most businesses face those times when management judgement makes all the difference. Are you recruiting people that shine at those critical moments?

What’s the downside?

SJTs can be expensive to design for an organisation, as they need to be tested for psychometric fairness with a pilot group – involving time and money. If you are therefore more likely to use an off-the-shelf SJT, it is wise for you to check that the scenarios used in the test are relevant for the role you are recruiting for. Make sure you get the right test to measure the right thing.

As with all psychometric tests, the main risk involved is that recruiting managers focus only on one aspect of success. Every psychometric test should be used as part of a wider process to ensure all priority aspects of a role are tested in recruitment.

How to gain maximum value

  • Analyse the needs of the role to fully understand what needs to be measured
  • If judgement and decision-making are key to success in the role, gather information on the kinds of decisions that make a difference and the contexts and scenarios managers deal with
  • Based on this information, review the off-the-shelf SJTs available for suitability – and if nothing is right, speak to a business psychologist about having a test designed for you (and if this turns out to be too costly, ask their advice on how else you might measure what you need)
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