How to Conduct an Individual Psychological Assessment of a Job Candidate
As an employer, to hire, to promote, and to develop the best people for your business are perhaps the most significant decisions you would have to make. In order to make these decisions, you can conduct individual psychological assessments.
First, what are individual psychological assessments? It is a tool employed to help companies make decisions on who to hire, who to promote, and who to develop inside their business. It uses an amalgamation of techniques to get to an understanding about a person and their personality, behavior, and capabilities. Typically, in a company setting, an individual psychological assessment has measures of leadership, personality, and cognitive skills that were developed and validated professionally. It usually includes an interview as well.
The length of a psychological assessment relies on variables like the interview duration as well as the number of simulations and tests. In addition, the position level – whether it is a managerial position or an entry-level position – can also affect the amount of time spent in a psychological assessment. Therefore, its length of time differs. It can take as short as less than an hour to as long as two days.
In the individual psychological assessment process, there are varied roles available and different people accomplish these roles. To be more specific, tests that need pen and paper differ in requirements for scoring, administration, and interpretation.
As previously indicated, individual psychological assessments are generally used to support the information on a job candidate gathered from other resources such as previous work experience, references, and interviews. Outcomes of an individual psychological assessment are usually taken as information to be further explored with the job candidate or even his or her job references.
STEPS TO CONDUCTING AN INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
Individual psychological assessments involve different tests, ensuring the make-up of a candidate’s personality traits, abilities, attitudes, and interests. Based on these results, you can assess whether a candidate is appropriate or inappropriate for a particular position within the structure of your company or to what level they meet the competencies you have defined for the position.
Evaluation of the Position
Before starting the individual psychological assessment, the assessor must know the specifications of the job position. Found next are the particulars that should be kept in mind when evaluating the position.
- competencies of the position
- potential challenges for the successful job candidate
- background of previous incumbents
- team culture of the position
- culture of the company
- anticipated short term results of the position
- expectations in the long-term
- probable career path of the successful job candidate
Usually, your company can use profiling to help you hire (even promote) people. This is important if you want to know if a candidate fits in your company and the position. Profiling is a professional and objective step that is important because there can be much variability during the interview process of the job assessment.
Intelligence tests, more commonly known as general aptitude tests, were created to gauge the intellectual capabilities and cognitive aptitudes of a job candidate. Generally, we call this intelligence. This gauge may be an intelligence quotient or IQ or an intelligence score. This is a scaled score usually coming from many subtest results.
As a whole, intelligence tests try to measure a job candidate’s intelligence. They would try to determine a candidate’s general capability to comprehend the world, assimilate what is happening, and apply it to regular life to improve its quality.
After accomplishing the intelligence tests, a job candidate’s test performance is compared to significant populations. Their results are also compared with the results of other subtests.
The importance of intelligence tests is to underscore the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, measuring a job candidate’s intelligence is important because multitudes of research have proven that this is the most accurate predictor of future performance. In addition, it says a lot about an individual, particularly one who has no significant job experience. This is because intelligence is more of a measure of potential, rather than a measure of what was learned (e.g., an achievement test).
Notably, the accurateness of intelligence tests actually improves if you go from unskilled workers to managerial or executive job roles. Furthermore, the accurateness improves even more when it is done together with a structured interview.
Check your intelligence with this IQ test from Cambridge University.
Skills or aptitude tests like decision-making, clerical accuracy and speed, computer commands, reasoning ability, customer service, and the like, offer a better understanding of a candidate’s probable behavioral response to a job position.
Job Knowledge Tests
The job knowledge test is a kind of assessment that measures crucial knowledge that is required for the effective performance of a job. Usually, this knowledge is gauged by technical information. Note that job knowledge tests are applied for situations wherein job candidates already have a body of knowledge in their heads before they enter the application process. These are not suitable for cases wherein job candidates will have to be trained after they are selected.
A personality test or a personality questionnaire evaluates the features important to job performance because this is a valuable prediction of latter performance on the job. In this case, the factors of a job candidate’s personality are evaluated frequently using work situations. These are extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, flexibility, agreeableness, and emotional stability. Interestingly enough, research has indicated that being conscientious is the strongest predictor of performance for any kind of job.
Based on the personality profile of an individual, you can make inferences on how a job candidate would react, given specific situations in the job. Some of the tools that measure personality are usually a self-report inventory wherein the candidate responds to a couple of questions or statements about their preferred behavioral response. These are usually “right” or “wrong” answers. Case in point, a job candidate can be asked to answer whether the following are “true” or “false”: “I never tell a lie.” or “I prefer to work alone than in a group.” The patterns of the responses of the job candidate are subsequently compared to responses that are consistent for specific personality styles or personality elements. The comparison becomes a basis of potential behavioral response of the candidate.
The most popular personality tests are:
- the MMPI or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or the MMPI-2, consisting of “yes” or “no” questions (as previously discussed);
- the inkblot or Rorschach test, consisting of inkblots on several cards – candidates simply give a description of the images and feelings when they look at the blots;
- the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, typically used to organize personality data in four scales of characteristics in opposition – this can match employees to the apt jobs and help organizational communications, as well as design training programs; and
- the IPP-NEO Personality Test, measuring the personality of a job candidate using five general personality categories and thirty subcategories – this helps evaluate the ability of a candidate to be in a multicultural setting.
There are some worries to the legality of the use of personality questionnaires to screen job candidates who will most likely be unsuccessful in the job. However, this is legal and accepted widely by the public. These personality questionnaires are not simply to evaluate job candidates, but to identify characteristics also for the best candidates in the future.
Personality tests are important because one of its results is the ability to identify the natural tendencies in a job candidate that can be in harmony, neutral, or incompatible with the demands of the position, the team, and the company. Moreover, no matter what the position in an organization may be, it is important that a job candidate show leadership capabilities, especially if you want him or her to rise up in the ranks.
Particularly for executive positions, it is important that the candidate knows how to be responsible over material, financial, and human resources. Thus, when hiring for these positions, due diligence must be made to choose individuals who can stand by their decisions and execute their plans, while having care towards the company and its employees.
To complement the different kinds of testing described above, the employer should perform an interview assessment before, during, or after the testing. This is so a formulation and testing of the hypotheses can take place on how a job candidate can react to particular job situations. By doing this, the employer can understand better the results from the testing process. It also provides the employer a better idea of the expectations of the candidate when he or she is in the working environment.
This video shows how to test job candidates in a job interview. 🙂
Reports and Further Investigation
When the individual psychological assessment has been finished (with the usage of the different tools discussed), the employer is given a complete report of the findings. It would also contain evaluative critique or feedback, showing the importance of the information to the specific requirements of the job position.
The feedback can also include advice on which areas a job candidate needs to improve on or where an employer needs further investigation or probing.
You should consider that there are complicated issues included in this psychological assessment process in terms of privacy, confidentiality, and ethics, as well as who the owner will be of the testing. When you properly explain to the candidate the process and always get their consent, many of these complicated issues can be resolved or avoided.
For example, once assessed, the reports on the job candidate can be submitted directly to the senior person at your human resources department or even the chief executive officer. This ensures the confidentiality of the information. You can also offer feedback to the successful candidates as included in the initial development planning. The feedback could be made available to the recruiting manager to aid in the on-boarding of the new employee.
Because of the resources on your time and finances, the individual psychological assessment should be executed in the final stretch of the job candidate pool, after it has been limited to the last remaining candidates. Many companies evaluate at least two candidates for the purposes of comparison. Evaluating at least two candidates can offer you a back-up in the possibility that your preferred candidate rejects your job offer.
In addition, by comparing two or more candidates with one another, you are leaving the company with more of an advantage in figuring out their fit with the company culture and their prospects for development and coaching.
Moreover, due to time and finance constraints, individual psychological assessments are customarily implemented for critical or high level positions in the company, wherein the risks of employing the wrong person are high.
Lastly, employers conducting individual psychological assessments must take into consideration the following practices and precautions.
- Do not use the assessments as the only criteria to hire a job candidate.
- Prevent using tests that would need an evaluation by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a social worker.
- Go through the tests to guarantee that they do not have something on psychological diagnostics. It should not factor in the finding of a specific mental or psychological disorder.
- Make sure that the tests are valid statistically and reliable – that they have no ethnic and cultural bias.
- Employ tests that are of necessity to your business and are job-related.
- Administer tests in a standardized manner. This would guarantee that all applicants are assessed similarly.
- Examine the test results to guarantee that there is not an incongruent effect on particular groups.
- Do active steps to make sure that test responses are confidential.
- Talk to an advisor or a lawyer that has expertise in assessments before you administer the testing. You as an employer must follow federal requirements, including more requirements by the state where the test is taking place.
UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES TO INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
Compared to other job candidate screening and assessment methods, the main upside of individual psychological assessments is that it can easily access information.
Another upside is that it can offer a job candidate feedback and critique that is more detailed and development-oriented, as meant for the new position. Nevertheless, development-oriented critique is more often than not optional and not always given.
The information gathered from the individual psychological assessment can also aid the manager of the job candidate to gain a better understanding on coaching and mentoring the new employee. Nonetheless, based on the policy of your company, the evaluation information gathered from the assessment may or may not be offered to the immediate supervisor.
The main downsides of individual psychological assessments are the costs and time involved in the assessment. In addition, the assessment could alienate or displease some job candidates who do not have full knowledge of the process or who do not view it as important in the decision-making process.
There is also a caveat. Because of the complicated nature of persons and work environments, you will not be able to foresee with absolute precision how successful a job candidate be with the position. Although individual psychological assessments can help and improve predictions, how an employee actually performs in the workplace depends on his/her:
- particular skills from past work and/or training;
- support from company resources to finish tasks; and
- personal motivation in order to use capabilities and skills.
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