A polished interviewee and a well-presented resume tells us very little about what we really need to know in making a hiring decision. Go beyond the fruits (obvious) and get to the roots (not so obvious) with psychometric testing.
Why Test Potential Employees?
It is a valid and reliable instrument on the basis of which inferences are made about individual differences such as personal characteristics or traits, underlying reasons for actions and possible future behaviour.
Psychometric Testing Falls Into Three (3) Main Types:
- Aptitude Tests which measure the ability to perform or carry out different tasks
- Interest Inventories which measure variations in motivation, in the direction and strength of our interests, and in values and opinions
- Personality Tests which measure differences in the style or manner of doing things, and in the way people interact with their environment and other people.
Why Use Psychological Assessments?
The Cost of Hiring Mistakes
Most managers, at some point in their careers, have hired individuals who interviewed well, had neat appearances and seemed to have the qualifications to meet the necessary job requirements-only to find out later that these seemingly qualified candidates are "problem employees." Today, the chances of making a bad hiring decision are greater than ever, as applicants have become more skilled at presenting themselves in resumes and interviews. Identifying potentially counterproductive employees before you hire them is one of the greatest challenges to a manager who makes hiring decisions. The problem of hiring counterproductive employees has reached epidemic proportions.
Application and Resume Falsification
More than 20 per cent of data regarding previous employment contained in applications or resumes is falsified to some extent. Exaggeration, omission and falsification most often occur in critical job-related areas.
In the USA employee-generated losses are greater than $40 billion a year, one percent of the Gross National Product and increasing 15 percent per year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In retail establishments, employee theft is the biggest source of losses. This is estimated at 43 percent of shrinkage losses, compared to only 30 percent attributed to shoplifting. Overall, employee theft can increase the cost of retail merchandise by 15 percent. In financial institutions, losses have nearly doubled in recent years. Losses due to internal fraud have been about four times that of burglary and robbery. In the USA the FBI estimates that internal theft accounts for 86 percent of all losses every year. Many Jamaican companies are quietly suffering from fear of bad publicity.
Pre-employment Screening Methods
Now that you have a better understanding of some of the problems facing employers, let' s take a look at the variety of pre-employment screening methods available to help companies hire quality employees. Most companies use several selection methods when assessing job applicants because no single applicant screening procedure alone can determine employability. Each traditional selection method described below has its particular benefits in the hiring process and your employer has chosen methods most appropriate for your company. This decision was based on whether or not these particular selection procedures are cost-effective in terms of time, money and other resources needed to perform them and the quality of the employees hired using them. Remember that the more you can do to screen applicants, the higher the probability that you will hire individuals who, in the long run, will prove, to be honest, stable and productive employees.
Interviewing is probably the most common pre-employment screening technique. A structured interview can verify information on applications and resumes. It also can provide valuable insight into an applicant's personality, skills and abilities. But interviewing may not be as effective as employers would like because it is often a subjective, non-directed process. Also, it can be difficult to determine truthfulness when discussing work history and the level of skills and abilities. Unfortunately, most interviewers are not formally trained in interviewing techniques and may not have the ability to elicit the types of information the employer needs.
Reference checks are useful for verifying information on an application form or a resume and for providing background information on an applicant's work history. Unfortunately, reference checks do not always yield reliable information because many employers are reluctant to say anything negative about a past employee and because misconduct, even if it did occur, may have gone undetected. An additional difficulty is that a prospective employer has no real way of knowing if the designated references are themselves reliable or if they are the most important ones to check.
Criminal History Checks
When an individual with a criminal history applies for a position of trust, criminal history checks can alert an employer to this background information. The drawbacks to criminal history checks are primarily that they are costly and difficult to obtain and that any information gathered may be incomplete or misleading.
Pre-employment Polygraph Exams
The purpose of pre-employment polygraph exams is to determine an individual's suitability for employment based on the verification of answers to job-related questions. While a polygraph exam conducted by a qualified examiner can yield useful information for a prospective employer, pre-employment polygraph exams, for the most part, have been banned in many countries.
Psychological inventories are an effective means of obtaining information about an applicant. Psychological inventories used for pre-employment screening are generally designed and validated in accordance with legal requirements and professional guidelines. A major advantage of a well-validated inventory, as shown through research, is that many of these instruments can effectively predict job-related behaviour, a function most other pre-employment screening techniques cannot perform.
Tests and Assessments