CHP 7: USES OF TESTS IN SELECTION
● Valid employment tests can play an integral part of their selection battery, providing important
insights into the job applicant’s personality, values, and work ethic.
● One study showed that personality tests are now commonly used to select middle mgmt
employees, and aptitude tests are common for white-collar nonprofessional jobs.
● Nearly 50% of employers use at least one paper-and-pencil test.
POPULARITY OF TESTS
STRENGTHS IN SELECTION TESTS
- Employment tests have been found to be objective, valid, and versatile in several settings.
● Well-designed tests provide a fair and objective basis for assessing an applicant’s potential, since
the assessor’s bias, background, and perceptual inaccuracies do not influence the test scores.
● Interviews, reference checks, and other personal evaluation methods are vulnerable to the
stereotypes, personal biases, and perceptual limitations of the evaluator.
● In contrast, tests are administered under standardized conditions by trained staff. Further,
because of the objective nature of test scores, they can be more easily interpreted and combined
with other predictors than reference letters or other personal evaluations.
High Reliability and Validity
● Well-designed tests have high reliability and validity, which facilitates interpretation of the scores.
● In addition, through procedures such as validity generalisation, they can also be adapted to
● Tests can be used both for recruiting purposes and for new hires after they have joined the
● The Canadian Psych Assoc notes that tests are particularly helpful for 1) selecting individuals for
an entry-level position, 2) making differential job assignments, 3) promoting individuals within an
org, 4) identifying employees with training potential, and 5) counselling and identifying individuals
for specialised positions.
Hidden Values and Traits
● An applicant’s core values, work-related attitudes, and stable personality traits are invisible.
● while reports of past experiences contained in resumes, work samples, and referee reports
provide some valid information about an applicant’s past and likely future behaviours, they can
also be faked or misrepresented.
● In contrast, well-designed test provide clues to an individual’s core values and personality.
● Visible Aspects (20% of info about personality and behaviours): education, work history, other
activities in resume.
● Latent Aspects (80% of applicant’s personality and values): values and attitudes, other
personality traits, thinking and reasoning patterns.
● in some situations, tests uncover personality issues that may not come to light in any other way.
WEAKNESSES OF SELECTION TESTS
- Many of the problems are due to improper applicant of the tests, rather than the tests
Tests with Questionable Reliability and Validity
● Not all tests have been tested for reliability and validity even those from reputable test publishers. ● The HR mgr should not assume that tests have proven reliability or validity until they have seen
psychometric data pertaining to the tests.
● Reputable test publishers provide this information upfront and also continually review test results
and norms for different population segments.
Misuse of Tests
● Using the wrong test or using the right test in the wrong way means the employer wastes time
and money, while very likely turning down the best candidates for the job.
● A personality tests such as Myers-Briggs works better for other settings, such as orgs attempting
to develop existing staff. It can help groups improve intermember communication or help
individuals identify their own strengths and weaknesses.
● Problems arise when employers are unaware of the purpose of tests or testing procedures.
● The onus is on the employer to ensure that only qualified persons interpret test results.
● Many reputable test publishers require buyers of tests to establish their credibility and interpreting
results before they agree to the sale.
Testing Beyond Bona Fide Requirements
● The onus is on the employer to show that tests are measuring BFJRs.
● KSAOs tested must be related to the job performance criteria identified through job analysis.
● Tests should be used to assess BFJR listed in job descriptions and specifications.
● Since job content changes over time, job analysis should be done continuously to reflect changes
in tasks, technology, and job demands.
● Selection tests should “accurately assess the individual’s performance or capacity to perform the
essential components of the job in question, safely, efficiently, and reliably. Many orgs fail to meet
this requirement, making them vulnerable to litigation and loss of qualified job applicants.
● Note also that even where a requirement is bona fide, the employer still has the responsibility to
make reasonable accommodation for differences in ability.
● When testing applicants with disabilities, employers must make special efforts to ensure that the
test is fair. They must accommodate people with disabilities by giving them a test that is neutral to
their disability as possible.
Risk of Unintended Discrimination
● Even systematic employment procedures can discriminate against specific groups unintentionally.
● When a test continually rejects people of a particular race, sex, religion, or national origin or has
any other adverse effect on a minority group, it violates the Canadian Human RIghts Act and
related provincial legislation.
● Many of the tests used in Canada were developed in the USA, so in some cases they are partially
invalid, since they were developed for a different culture.
● They often also fail to predict job performance.
● Even when tests have been validated, the type of validation used may render the test invalid for a
particular culture. Tests must be validated for all the groups to whom the test applies.
● HR specialists should conduct their own studies to make sure a particular test is valid for its
planned use. They should also be aware of the variables surrounding a job applicant’s
performance on a specific test.
- For example a MCQ aptitude test may discriminate against groups of applicants who have
weak-test taking skills but have strong skills for the actual job. Test-taking anxiety levels may vary
across applicant groups. Some studies indicate that females exhibit higher levels of stress over
tests than males.
Invasion of Privacy
● Despite type of selection tool used, requesting unrelated job information is unethical. ● Personality tests run the risk of invading an individual’s privacy, especially if the tests inquire
about topics that are personal in nature, such as core values, religious beliefs, or sexual
● In addition, psych tests should not be treated as medical tests by requiring information that might
suggest a mental disorder or impairment.
● Further, HR depts must safeguard all infor collected during selection. This infor should be only
released to personnel who have legitimate and professional interest in the job applicant.
● In Ontario, municipal and provincial employees have right to access and protect their own
personal information, including information obtained through employment testing.
TYPES OF TESTS
- Each type of test has only limited usefulness. The exact purpose of a test, its design, its reliability and
validity info, its admin instructions, and its applications are recorded in the test manual, which staff should
review thoroughly before administering a test.
1. Knowledge Tests - Math tests, Verbal Ability tests, Minnesota, Clerical tests, Tests conducted by
2. Ability and Aptitude Tests - Differential Aptitude tests, Comprehensive Ability Battery, General
Aptitude Test Battery
3. Vocational Interest Tests - Kuder Preference and Interest Scales, Strong Interest Inventory,
Jackson Vocational Interest Inventory
4. Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Tests - Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire,
Leadership Opinion Questionnaire, How to Supervise?
5. Personality Tests - Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, Hogan Personality Inventory
6. Work Samples and Simulations - Work samples, Assessment Centres.
7. Honesty/Integrity Tests - Reid Report, Stanton Survey, Hogan Personality Inventory - reliability
8. Medical and Drug Tests - Drug tests, medical tests, Genetic screening
● Job knowledge tests attempt to assess the degree to which job applicants are knowledgeable
about concepts, issues, or procedures essential for successful job performance.
● Typically knowledge/trade tests consist of a series of key questions that differentiate the truly
skilled and experienced applicants from those who are less knowledgeable or from “trade
● Can be oral or written; most times written.
● Two important uses:
1) to check an applicant’s claims about their knowledge
2) to assess the job knowledge of present employees being considered for promotion or transfers
● Other Knowledge tests summarize an applicant’s knowledge in a specific area.
● These tests are generally highly reliable because they measure only info and knowledge, with
validities that average 0.45 against job performance. These tests can be particularly helpful when
must select candidates for highly complex job.
● Care must be taken to ensure that the knowledge being tested is needed to perform the job.
● Some researchers have argued that “practical intelligence” - the ability to get things done without
help from others - is critical for job success, This concept is akin to “organisational smarts,” the
ability to influence others, minimize resistance, and get things done. Available research does not
provide much support for practical intelligence as a predictor of success. VOCATIONAL INTEREST TESTS
● Show how a person’s interest pattern compares with successful job incumbents.
● They indicate the occupations or areas of work where a person is most likely to be interested and
to find most satisfying. The underlying assumption is that people do well at and remain in a job
that they enjoy.
● Strong’s Vocational Interest Blank has been very popular with many employers and recruiters.
Inventories such as this one are more useful in predicting job stability than job success. Even
though interest may define the direction of effort, it does not guarantee success. Hence these
tests should not be confused with aptitude or ability tests.
● Most of these tests are susceptible to faking - applicants may try to put their best foot fwd by
giving answers that they think the employer want to hear. As such, these measures are more
appropriate for counselling employees than for making hiring decisions.
ABILITY AND APTITUDE TESTS
● Ability Tests measure an individual’s mental, mechanical, physical (e.g. psychomotor
coordination), and clerical abilities.
● Aptitude Tests measure an individual’s innate ability to learn and understand processes.
● Both ability and aptitude tests measure the individual’s lifetime accumulation of learning from all
sources, including informal learning experiences.
● Both measure “what a person has learned up to the time they take the test. No test can truly
measure future capacity to learn” since almost all these tests involve measurement of some
actual behaviour, whether writing answers or giving verbal responses.
● Closely related to abilities and aptitudes, but still distinct from them, are skills. Skills refer to the
degree of proficiency in a specific task, based on past learning, experience, and aptitude.
● Skill tests range from typing tests to architectural drafting tests.
● While partially determined by past training, skills are still influenced by other factors.
● The construct validity of aptitude tests has received increased attention, and the results are
positive. Bit construct validation in employment settings is still rare. Most validation studies focus
on specific criteria, such as absenteeism, tenure, and quality consciousness. Often supervisory
ratings, rather than objective indices, are employed to validate the tests.
● Over the years, more than 50 distinct human abilities have been identified. these are classified
into four major groups: cognitive, psychomotor, sensory/perceptual, and physical.
● These are related to general intellectual abilities, such as verbal and numerical abilities, problem
solving, reasoning, ordering, logical evaluation, and information processing.
● These abilities primarily reflect an individual’s capacity to mentally manipulate words, figures,
symbols, numbers, and logical order.
● The target abilities measured by popular mental ability tests include: verbal comprehension,
semantic relations, conceptual classification, logical ordering, logical evaluation, intuitive
reasoning, general reasoning, numerical mastery, spatial orientation, and figural classification.
● More recently, general mental ability (GMA) has become a popular idea. GMA refers to the
underlying factor that determines most mental abilities, such as verbal and mathematical
reasoning, manipulation of symbols and information, and logical reasoning. It is believed to
promote learning, problem solving, and communication.
● GMA is found to predict a new employee’s performance during job training and general job
performance. This relationship between GMA and job performance holds for most types of jobs, especially those that require high levels of reasoning, such as managerial and professional
● With validity coefficients of 0.5, GMA tests are amongst the most valid tests.
● Mental ability tests may also adversely impact against minority groups and hence should be
implemented with care.
● Cognitive ability tests are generally paper-and-pencil tests (recently, computer interactive tests).
● Reflect a person’s ability to control muscle movements, including finger dexterity, arm-hand
steadiness, multi-limb coordination, response time, and overall manual dexterity.
● “Finger dexterity” refers to the ability make precise , coordinated movements with the fingertips.
● “Manual dexterity” involves coordinated movements of hands and arms, while “wrist finger speed”
refers to the ability to make to make wrist-flexing and finger movements rapidly.
● Unlike cognitive tests, these are rarely paper and pencil tests. The applicant performs
standardised tasks using a specialised piece of equipment.
● By their very nature, they are actual performance tests and assess skills that are closely related
to actual job performance. Most of them have high validity in predicting future job performance.
● These refer to a person’s vision, hearing, and sensory capabilities. Tests focus on vision and
colour discrimination, speech recognition, and hearing.
● More advance tests focus on figure-object recognition and learning, cognition, motor-control, and
● Subtests examine visual-motor speed, position in space, eye-hand coordination, copying spatial
relations, figure-ground distinction, visual closure, and form constancy. Most of these require
● Careful identification of the standards required for the job should precede interpretation of the
tests. Unless the standards required are BFJRs, the org may expose itself to possible litigation.
● These refer to muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, and movement quality.
- Muscular strength refers to the ability to apply or resist force through muscular contraction,
which in turn relates to an individual’s muscular power, tension, and endurance.
-Cardiovascular endurance reflects the capacity to sustain muscular activity over an extended
period of time.
-Movement quality measures an individual’s flexibility, balance, and muscular integration.
● Research evidence indicates that workers are three times more likely to be injured while
performing jobs for which they have not demonstrated the required capabilities. On the other
hand, physical ability tests often adversely impact on women and other minority groups.
● Faced with this dilemma, some employers have opted for medical and physical fitness exams to
provide a measure of physical ability. However, there is no substitute for physical ability tests and
cannot predict the applicant’s ability to perform a task safely.
● Other employers have attempted to prescribe physical standards as a way to overcome the
problem. Thus, rather than measuring a person’s strength, they prescribe specific heights and
weights, assuming that people who fall within a range of height and weight have the required
physical abilities. Buth these requirements don’t necessarily correlate with specific abilities.
Physical standards can also adversely discriminate against applicant groups who possess the
required abilities but not the standards. ● Thus physical ability requirements must be set only after a thorough job analysis. They should
reflect BFJRs. Even when such standards are prescribed, the employer has to make reasonable
accommodation to ensure that no minority group is adversely affected.
LEADERSHIP AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TESTS
● No universal agreement on the attributes of the ideal leader.
● Effective leaders can have vastly different leadership styles; nor does a single leadership style
seem successful in all settings.
● In general, several dimensions dimensions of effective leadership are assessed:
○ vision and the ability to think in big-picture terms rather than in minute details
○ optimism and excitement about purpose
○ ability to value subordinates and others for their unique talents and to inspire them to the
○ ability to provide clear directives and feedback
○ ability to facilitate action and removal of obstacles
○ commitment to the cause and hard work
● the 45-item Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire assesses six dimensions of leadership:
intellectual stimulation, contingent reward, mgmt by exception, charisma, laissez-faire, and
● Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) assesses five dimensions of leadership: challenging the
process, inspiring a vision, enabling others to act, modelling the way, and encouraging. 30-item
inventory is very popular in corporate training programs on leadership, because it is easy to
● Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to a set of abilities including self control, zeal, impulse
control, and delayed gratification, so that one can regulate one’s mood and hope and persist in
the face of frustration. The following are seven competencies associated with the construct:
○ self awareness: the awareness of one’s feelings and ability to recognise and manage
○ motivation: the drive and energy to achieve results, balance ST and LT goals, and deal
with challenge and rejection.
○ influence: the ability to persuade others to change their viewpoints.
○ emotional resilience: the ability to perform well and consistently in a range of situations
under pressure. to
○ interpersonal sensitivity: the awareness of the needs and feelings of others and ability
to use this awareness effectively when dealing with others.
○ decisiveness: the ability to use insight and arrive at a decision when faced with
○ conscientiousness: the ability to display commitment to a course of action and to act
consistently and ethically.
● Emotional intelligence has its critics - ongoing debate wrt its similarity to existing personality traits.
Furthermore, the available measures of EQ appear to have questionable predictive validity. Given
these problems, it may be premature to employ this construct in selection decisions.
● In general leadership tests are becoming more innovative; computers have facilitated the capture
the complex and the dynamic dimensions of leadership. Video shows movement and depicts
richer and more detailed behavioural incidents. By capturing more detailed and accurate
information, newer tests can increase the fidelity with which leadership ability is measured. ● high-tech test have other advantages. Watching a video-based test also exposes candidate to the
the types of decisions they have to make on the job and the types of activities they will
encounter. Video-based tests can also be administered to groups of candidates at the same time,
thus reducing the costs. Moreover, even though developing reliable and valid tests that can be
administered on the computer may involve higher start-up costs, research indicates that improves
reliability of such interactive tests make them worthwhile.
● can be broadly described to include combinations of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that