We work with many people who undertake Occupational Test User Ability and Personality courses to become qualified to access psychometric tests. This is a clear benefit of Test User training, but it is not the only one. The Test User courses provide a much broader array of knowledge and skills than may be apparent initially. In this two part blog series, I’ll discuss some of these lesser realised benefits of Test User training. In Part 1, the veiled benefits of Test User Ability training are presented. Part 2 will examine the hidden payoffs of Test User Personality training.
Test User Ability (TUA) training provides skills needed to test work-related aptitudes, abilities and career interests. In addition to directly working with these kinds of tests, our trainees gain the following knowledge and practical abilities:
1. Determining if and how psychometric tests should be used in occupational decisions
Workplace assessments should provide appropriate, relevant and cost-effective information about employees. While psychometric tests are often a good choice for this, alternative ways of measuring attributes might also be useful. Our TUA trainees examine various kinds of measurement, and consider advantages and disadvantages of each. Examples include work sample tests, 360° feedback and measures of physical capacity. The potential benefits of combining data from several sources are explored. As a result, trainees know whether and how to include psychometric tests in an assessment campaign.
2. Critically evaluating psychometric instruments
To determine which test is best suited to a particular purpose, evidence for psychometric qualities must be evaluated. For example, if a test has to provide consistent results, reliability needs to be present. Specific types of validity must be taken into account if the goal of testing is to predict job success, or to assess understanding of certain skills. On the Test User Ability course, persons practice identifying and analysing evidence for such psychometric qualities. The result is better informed test choices.
3. Ensuring fairness in testing
Fair testing provides each candidate with an opportunity to have their abilities assessed in a way that is objective and unbiased. For example, a fair test of computation skills should measure only the ability to solve mathematical problems. Performance should not be influenced by testing conditions, language skills, personal disabilities or unjust comparisons with other test taker’s scores. Our Test User Ability training addresses issues of fairness in the contexts of administering, interpreting and incorporating test results.
Related to administration, means of establishing consistent test conditions for all candidates is considered. We also cover how to ensure candidates’ special needs are identified and appropriately addressed.
Towards interpreting scores, trainees find out how to choose appropriate comparison groups to assess candidates’ performance. Without a clear understanding of this process, there’s a risk for discrimination against protected group members. Test scores must differ sufficiently to justify selecting one candidate over another, too. Determining how to establish this is another key issue we cover. Finally, trainees learn how to guarantee test takers rights related to informed consent, data access and protection. Being able to assure clients of fair assessment means testing is likely to be legally justified and favourably received.
4. Best practice in high-stakes testing
High-stakes testing is used to make crucial decisions about individuals. In occupational contexts, this includes candidate short-listing. Best practice ranges from selecting an appropriately secure mode of administration to verifying scores through re-testing. Test User Ability training gives trainees the skills needed to ensure the best candidate decisions are made in these high-pressure contexts.
5. When and how to optimally share test results
Either client organisations or individual persons may require test feedback. Results might be presented through interactive discussion or in written format. Key skills include how to sensitively and accurately communicate test results, at a level of understanding matched to the audience. Trainees also learn how to verify tentative test results during feedback discussions. Cautions surrounding use of computer generated feedback reports are considered as well.
Trainees gain initial experience in developing and providing feedback during the Test User Ability course. More extensive practice is a key aspect of our second occupational course, Test User Personality.
In this blog I’ve highlighted a few of the lesser realised gains from Selection by Design’s Test User Ability training. If you would like to add these assets to your own set of skills, consider enrolling in our next course.
See you next time!
Accurately predicting the future would be a great asset to an organisation. Which new products will be the most marketable? How much should we invest in a new advertising campaign? Is now the time to expand our workforce?
More focused workplace decisions might include: Who will make the most effective leader or supervisor? Is an employee likely to stay with the company on a long term basis? Who can I really count on to help get the work done under pressure?
While a reliable and carefully chosen method of evaluation can be a huge advantage, decisions are often made with an element of “gut reaction”. Sometimes instincts or hunches work out, but humans generally aren’t very good at predicting the future.
An exception to this is found with an unusual few “superforecasters,” as discovered by Phil Tetlock and colleagues. These are individuals who do far better than most of us at making accurate predictions. Why are some of us better at predicting outcomes than others? Can we all become better at forecasting? Are there special techniques or tricks that superforecasters use to better their odds?
In this intriguing National Public Radio (NPR) Hidden Brain podcast, Dr. Tetlock considers these issues as he discusses his research into forecasting the future. Among the secrets to their success, overlooking “gut instincts” in favour of reassessing and narrowing predictions with updated and evolving knowledge is key. Being open to possibilities of “maybe” helps, rather than drawing distinct yes or no conclusions. Application of this research to businesses is specifically addressed in this Harvard Business Review article.
This research has some interesting implications for employee-related decisions. What forecasting traps do we tend to fall into when hiring, promoting or more generally managing employees? How may psychometric measures contribute to effectively predicting workplace behaviour?
You can find out more about using psychometric tests to make decisions through our training for BPS/EFPA Occupational Test User qualifications. We are enrolling now for our September courses.
Additional related resources:
Association for Psychological Science https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/degrees-of-maybe-how-we-can-all-make-better-predictions.html
Tetlock, P.E. & Gardner, D. (2016). Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction. Penguin Random House.
Teams are an essential component of today’s workplace. Successful work teams achieve levels of innovation and productivity exceeding those of individual employees. This is possible because of both the pooled knowledge and experiences of team members, and evolving team dynamics that drive problem-solving and performance approaches.
But developing a successful team can be a real challenge! We’ve put together a set of articles for you to highlight some of the potential issues facing work teams, along with steps that can ensure team success.
- There is an I in Team – Teamwork and trust are crucial in today’s business world. This article discusses how individual team members and managers can foster a strong, team-oriented workplace.
- When Does Conflict Improve Team Performance? – Conflict related to work tasks can become a conduit for improving team performance and not a potential pitfall. The right psychological climate is crucial.
- How to Fix the Negative Relationships that Affect Team Performance – Here are two strategies for mitigating negative relationships that can decrease a team’s cohesiveness and ultimately its performance.
- How to Manage a Team that Keeps Growing – insightful Q & A with leadership and strategic advisor Steve Nguyen that provides valuable information on effective team leadership.
Understanding the preferences, personality and working styles of individual members, and how these fit together in creating team dynamics, can be an excellent starting point towards building effective work teams. When you complete Selection by Design’s Test User Personality training, you will be qualified to access and use work team assessments. Examples range from the succinct JTI type report, featuring preferred working relationships, to the comprehensive 15FQ extended Group Report and 16pf Teamwork Development Report.
Wishing you smooth and successful team building!
The benefits of creativity at work – Why build an innovative workforce?
The value of creativity and an innovative workforce has been increasingly recognised in recent years. Companies need to work harder to stay competitive, and to gain the confidence of more demanding consumers. Creative thinkers are an asset to companies as they excel at finding solutions to complex problems and new opportunities for growth. Compared to workers who simply do work they’re expected to do, creative employees are more proactive, show more commitment and tend to exceed expectations. They take a broader approach than analytical thinkers which can lead to new solutions. They’re more flexible, too, responding well to change. All of this may contribute to workplace success throughout an organisation.
What exactly is creativity, and how does it relate to innovation?
Creativity refers to the potential to generate novel, original ideas. Innovation involves applying a new idea within a relevant situation or content. These terms are often used interchangeably, although innovation implies a more direct impact on work processes.
Researchers have alternated between considering creativity as an intellectual ability and a personality trait. Early work included Guilford’s (1950) study of creativity as a divergent thinking. Sternberg’s investment theory of creativity (e.g., Sternberg & Lubart’s 1991) proposed influences including intellectual ability, knowledge, thinking styles, personality characteristics, intrinsic motivation and the environmental. The association between intelligence and creativity has been extensively researched, but with varying results. Recent evidence suggests that whether individual creativity is related to intellect or personality depends on how it is conceptualized and assessed (Candler et al., 2016). Creativity is positively associated with the “Big 5” dimension of openness to experience (McCrea, 1987). Persons who are extraverted or low on conscientiousness may be more innovative. Motives (e.g., intrinsic, vs. extrinsic), mood, values, or emotional intelligence may also promote innovation; further research is needed (Arnold & Randall et al., 2016). There is a great deal yet to discover about creativity at work.
Fostering creativity and innovation at work
So, how can organisations take advantage of the benefits of creativity in the workplace?
Selecting and hiring employees with the potential for innovation may be a good first step. Psychometric tests that include measurement of creative or innovative potential include the 16pf® (Receptivity, vs. Tough-mindedness), measures of the “Big 5” (Openness to Experience), and strengths-based measures of personality such as the Values in Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths (Peterson, C., & Seligman, M.E.P, 2004).
The Innovation Potential Indicator (Patterson, 1999) specifically measures an employee’s potential to apply innovative ideas in the workplace. You may access and use this instrument once you have completed Selection by Design’s Test User: Occupational, Personality training.
Selection processes might further include situational judgement tests (SJTs) designed to evaluate creativity for specific job tasks. Interview questions might include demonstration of past innovative ideas or approaches.
Selecting employees with the right potential may help in developing a more innovative workforce. But it is also essential that innovation is valued, encouraged and supported throughout the organisation. Creating a culture centred on creativity, with leaders who will support innovation and reward flexibility is key.
Arnold, J., & Randall R, et al. (2016). Work psychology: Understanding human behaviour in the workplace (6th ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson.
Kandler, C., Riemann, R., Angleitner, A., Spinath, F.M., Borkenau, P., & Penke L. (2016). The nature of creativity: The roles of genetic factors, personality traits, cognitive abilities, and environmental sources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(2), 230 –249.
Guilford, J.P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, 5(9), 444–454.
McCrae, R.R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(6), 1258-1265.
Patterson, F. (1999). The innovation potential indicator. Manual and User’s guide. Oxford: OPP Ltd.
Peterson, Christopher & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington, D.C.: APA Press and Oxford University Press.
Sternberg, R.J., & Lubart, T.I. (1991). An investment theory of creativity and its development. Human Development, 34(1), 1–31.