PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology
Chapter 16: Psychological Tests
Employment test are widely used tin the selection process. The candidates are evaluated or judged on the basis of their physical characteristics (height, weight, vision, hearing etc.), abilities and skills (intelligence, verbal ability, mathematical ability, etc.), interest (economic, emotional stability, cooperativeness, sociability etc.). So employment test can be defined in two different ways:
From assessment view point – a test is a standardized series of problems or questions that assess a person’s knowledge, skill, abilities or other characteristics.
From legal view point – a test can be any method which can be used to make an employment decision.
To sum up we can say, a test is an instrument designed to measure selected psychological and mechanical attributes of an individual.
Hugo Munsterberg, for the first time, used psychological test, in industry prior to 1910 at the Boston Elevated Railway Company. After this the use of psychological test as a tool for personnel selection has steadily increased. The greatest impetus on these tests was given during the Second World War when millions of people were psychologically tested for various reasons.
It should be remembered that when the tests are used, they should not be relied upon completely. It is advisable to take help of other techniques such as checking references and conducting interview.
- The tests are generally less affected by the gender and ethnicity as compared to cognitive ability test.
- Test can make the decision process more efficient because less time is spent with individual whose characteristics, skills, and abilities do not match with what is needed.
- Test are often used to assess characteristics that can not be developed through training but are required over a long period of time or even a life time (e.g. A personality traits, in-depth knowledge of profession)
- On important advantage of using employment test is that they can often provide information about individual that is not easily obtained using other methods or that would be much more costly by other means.
- Using standardized tools in employment decision making ensures that the same information is gathered about each individual and used in a similar way in decisions.
- Another advantage is that a great deal of information about a person can be collected in a relatively short period of time by using tests.
- Tests reduce the cost of selection and placement because large number of applicants can be evaluated within the least possible time.
- Psychological time can reduce the costs of hiring people who will be successful by measuring their aptitude and predicting their success.
- Tests can be used for differential placements because in testing attention is centered on the qualifications for a specific job. If the applicant fails to pass the test or does very well in the test, in this case his suitability for the job other than the one applied for, can be explored.
- Employers should have clear documentation regarding any tools used in employment decision making.
- Privacy issues i.e. what can and what should be asked
- Test can not make 100% prediction of an individual on the job success.
- Tests are criticized for measuring only a part of the total information needed to make an accurate selection.
- Tests are sometimes criticized on the ground that they cannot make prediction on chances of success of an applicant because he was nervous.