INTRODUCTION Recruitment and selection are the core activities of the HR department in any organization as it is directly linked to the employees of the organization. These processes are not only important but also the most difficult as it involves a lot of cost on the part of the company. Unlike the recruitment process the selection process also involves a lot of cost in terms of interviews and tests in conducting the selection of the employees..
Many of us already know that the psychometric tests are commonly used in almost every organization not only in the selection process but also in the process of performance management of the employees. The reason for carrying out the test in the same in the two situations it is to measure the ability and the performance of the employees. In this paper I will discuss what is a psychometric test? How the companies use it and also the advantages and disadvantages of introducing a psychometric test in the selection process. PSYCHOMETRIC TEST Psychometric tests are used to measure the ability of the mind to perform certain types of jobs.
As explained by Toplis et al (1991), a psychometric test such as one on mental ability has correct answers so that the higher the score, the better the performance. It is just an addition to the interviews. It is like supporting evidence in addition to the oral interviews to prove if you have the required skills to do the required job. This test and a number of other tests are performed in the selection process so as to have the right person at the right place in the right time. Some of the tests that are being used by organizations are as follows: 1. Psychomotor. 2.
Cognitive ability (intelligence, reasoning). 3. Personality. 4. Motivation and interest and many more. (Smith and Smith, 2005: Testing people at work). There is a myth among some people that psychological tests and psychometric tests are one and the same. But this is not the truth. All psychometric tests are not psychological tests. Psychological tests use systematic and standardized procedures to measure differences in individual characteristics such as intelligence and personality. Psychological tests are measuring instruments, which is why they are often referred to as psychometric tests (Armstrong, 2009).
The British Psychological Society (BPS) has the following definition for Psychometric and Psychological test, ‘Instruments designed to produce a quantitative assessment of some psychological attribute or attributes’ and ‘ a psychological test is any procedure on the basis of which inferences are made concerning a person’s capacity, propensity or liability to act, react, experience, or to structure or order thought or behaviour in particular ways’ (Amos, 2004). The psychometric tests may be called by other names such as occupational, psychological or personality tests. Psychometric tests are objective in nature.
They are only an addition to the selection process of any organization. But these days many large organizations take these tests seriously and can even reject a candidate on the basis of failing the test. This test can be categorized in two ways for better understanding. CURRENT APPROACH TO SELECTION PROCESS The current approach towards the selection process is very complex due to the competitive market. The organizations have to be very clear in what they want out of the selection process. Therefore the employers mostly rely on different types of tests that make the employer’s job easy in deciding the right person for the right position.
This process of selection involves making a judgment about the fit between the person and the job, which is difficult because there are many subjective factors involved (Carrell et al, 1996). The organizations are now developing new tools and methods of carrying out the selection process with the advancement in technology. Unlike the traditional approach, the employers now prepare a job description and the job specification even before conducting an interview. They also conduct the selection tests and the assessment centers based on the type of job or the position that the candidate has applied for.
The approach in recent times has changed from be merely a selection process to be a strategic one in which the company thinks about the long term perspectives. The organizations have now started developing/purchasing new, advanced and highly sophisticated tests so that they get the best person in their company. The process of selection is a part of the strategic management of the human resources i. e. applying competencies framework (Baruch, 2004). In the selection process the employer not only understands the competencies of the candidate but also understands the personality and the career aspirations of the candidate.
The tests and the assessment centre help in understand theses aspects of the candidate. Therefore the organizations now are not only concentrating on the interviews which are more of the verbal context but also see how well they perform in the tests and also in the given situation (assessment center), which helps the employer to better understand the candidate and see if he/she is best suited for the organization. As a result to get the best employee in the company most of the employers are now adopting psychometric tests in their selection process to increase the validity and reliability of the process. TESTS
Tests play an important part in the process of selection and to determine the right candidate. Tests are essentially an objective and standardized measure of a sample of behaviour (Anastasi, 1988). Tests are of different kinds and also used in different situations to measure different competencies of an individual. Not only has this but they also given a clear picture of the necessary details for which the test is being carried out. The most important thing is that they are performed in a systematic manner. They are carefully chosen depending on what has to be tested. Tests try to make things simpler for the viewer to understand things.
There is very little scope for error while doing so but the results may differ in some ways because all human beings do not behave or react in the same manner though many do. Tests evoke responses from candidates, who must do something that can be evaluated (Smith and Smith, 2005). In terms of employers it helps them get a competitive edge over their competitors effectively if they retain and get the best employees in their company and leave the rest for their competitors. Tests also help the employer to understand the learning and development potential of the employee in which they are going to invest.
The use of the test has to be done in the best way i. e. no biasness, be it gender, race of ethnicity. As there are some employers who consider these things while conducting a test. The test should be evaluated and re-evaluated constantly to check the validity and the reliability of the test. As time goes by the test get out of date and therefore need evaluation so that the employer doesn’t miss out on the best candidate. ADVANTAGES OF INTRODUCING PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS IN SELECTION PROCESS Organizations use a varied variety of tests to get the best employee to work in their organization.
The main motive of these tests is that the employer knows that the person he is about to recruit is suitable for the position and that he has the necessary skill and knowledge to perform well in the company. Tests are a systematic procedure for observing behaviour and describing it with the aid of numerical scales or fixed categories (Cronbach, 1970). Most of the call centers in India use this test. They are mainly online tests which help the employer conduct tests on a large scale and evaluate the results respectively.
The recruitment and the selection process involve a huge amount of cost for recruiting employees in large numbers. Thus it is very essential for the company that it recruits the right person for the right job. Most of the test carried out in the call centers is general in respect that almost all call centers in India carry out the similar tests to check the intelligence and the ability of the candidates mind to perform tasks. This test mainly assumes this fact that humans react in the same or similar way if put in a given situation. It also helps in understanding the personality of an individual and also their aptitude.
Most of the candidates are many a times scared or shy during the interviews therefore the psychometric test helps the candidate to show his ability by performing his best in the test. Psychometric tests cover two main aspects: Ability (Intelligence) and Personality. Sometimes the interviews may not be that helpful to understand the aptitude and the ability of the candidate, this is where these tests play the main role. They give practical evidence of what was said in the interview by the candidate. These tests lead to judgments that are more valid in comparison to the other modes used.
If thought in the long-term perspective they have a role to play as the selection process in the organizations are becoming more strategic in nature. As the cost involved in conducting a psychometric test is much less as compared to the long-term investment in the employee if they are not the right ones. DISADVANTAGES OF USING PSYCHOMETRIC TEST Though there are many advantages of using the psychometric test as it helps in gaining a better understanding of the candidate but if these tests are not properly executed then this may result in losing out on the best employee for the organization.
There are a number of ways in which this may result as a disadvantage for the employer. They are: 1. If the test does not relate to the job for which the candidate has applied for then it is obvious that he/she won’t perform well in the tests. 2. The instructions of the tests should be made clear and much before hand to the candidate. Though they may be put down on paper, there is a possibility that the candidate may miss interpret them and may fail in the test. 3. The main problem of this test is that the answer of one candidate is matched with the result of the norm group.
Now a norm group is a set of people who have done the test before/ on which the test has be performed before (they are the people who are all ready working in the organization). So the result of the candidate who has done the test is being compared to the results of the norm group. Now in this case the behaviour of the people in the norm group may not be similar to the nature of the person giving the test. Many a times this minute things are not taken into consideration while evaluating the results. 4. In many of the call centers in India they conduct psychometric tests online.
There is a high possibility that the candidate can cheat and from my experience I have seen the employers themselves helping the candidates answering certain questions. 5. The employer should be hand check if there are any special requirements of the candidates. As some may not clearly understand English, English may not be their first language. So if the necessary arrangement is not made the test has no meaning because the candidate will not be able to understand the questions and therefore will not be able to answer all the questions properly. . It is essential to know the validity and the reliability of the test. On the basis on this the results should be calculated. In concern to individuals, invalidity selection gives a greater risk of being hired for jobs in which they cannot cope. This would not only affect the company but also the individual as he/she is not interested in the job and this could cause anguish and disengagement in the work that he is performing. Which many a times is the case in call centers. Here people are recruited in large numbers, they omehow pass the test and get into the company but sooner or later they realize that the job is not meant for them and this result in a high attrition rate in the call centers. 7. The people who conduct the test should be well trained. As there are a number of tests available in the market which purport themselves to be ‘psychometric testing instruments’ but in reality there are merely a bunch of questionnaires. 8. There is also a danger in the use of personality questionnaires that try to asses a person’s ability or skill in a particular area.
For example, if a candidate performs well in be a manager it does not mean that he is fit for the post but it only means that he has the basic qualities of a manager which many a times may not be the actual requirement of the post. But unfortunately as the scores predict that he has the qualities he may be appointed for the post and the company may lose out on a good performer if not analyzed properly. VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY Validity and reliability are of paramount importance when conducting a test. However reliability and sensitivity are important but validity is linked to all of them.
Is a measure is valid; it will probably be reliable and also sensitive. Also many professionals term a valid test to be a fair test. For this reason the tests should be evaluated on a regular basis. Validity refers to whether a test measures what it is supposed to measure and reliability refers to whether the measurement provided is consistent (Edenborough, 1999). There are 5 different types of validity. They are: 1. Predictive validity: identifying the future performance. 2. Concurrent validity: distinguishing higher and lower performers. 3. Content validity: reflecting relevant material in the test. . Face validity: appearing credible. 5. Construct validity: measure what it’s supposed to measure. All of these validities are not used in the selection process as psychometric test is not only used in the selection process it is also used in performance management. As mentioned above that reliability is to see how many times do we get the same results i. e. checking the consistency of the test. Cattell argues that high internal consistency is actually antithetical to validity on the grounds that any item must cover less ground or be narrower than the riterion we are trying to measure (Kline, ) but in reality a reliability test will only measure a narrow variable of little variance. To check the reliability of the test to is essential to test and d re-test so that you get the same measurement again and again if not then you need to evaluate the test and see where is it that the problem actually lies. The minimum satisfying figure for psychometric test reliability is 0. 7. Below this, as Guilford (1956) points out that, a test becomes unsatisfactory for use with individuals because the standard error of an obtained score becomes so large that the interpretation of scores is dubious.
CONCLUSION From this I can conclude that though the psychometric test is very useful and in a way essential to get the right person in the right place at the right time it needs to be used with great care. If they are not used with proper care and under proper vigilance then the company might just lose on a very good employee. In this time of globalization where everyone is waiting to pull the other one down it is very important that the companies pay utmost attention to their recruitment and selection process.
There are a number of disadvantages of the psychometric tests that were identified by me while I was reading about the topic but if the tests are carried out properly and by well trained people who have the knowledge about the usage of these tests the advantages would definitely surpass the disadvantages. This can also open a new arena in the other functions of the HR department to evaluate the performance of the employees which would in the long term help the employer reduce cost and increase and develop the talent pool within the organization