Psychometric assessments


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Selecting the right person for the job is a basic task for any organisation. Getting it wrong can be costly – on recruitment, promotion or even selection for redundancy. An objective and appropriate methodology for assessment improves decision-making, reduces risk and increases confidence in the selection process.
Collinson Grant has been using various forms of psychometric assessments to support clients for more than 30 years. This document describes how we go about organising group and individual assessments, their objectives and content, and the benefits.

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Psychometric assessments

  1. 1. Psychometric assessments
  2. 2. Contents Introduction 1 Background 1 Design and process 2 Other products 4 Case study 5 About Collinson Grant 6
  3. 3. Psychometric assessments 1 Introduction Selecting the right person for the job is a basic task for any organisation. Getting it wrong can be costly – on recruitment, promotion or even selection for redundancy. An objective and appropriate methodology for assessment improves decision-making, reduces risk and increases confidence in the selection process. Collinson Grant has been using various forms of psychometric assessments to support clients for more than 30 years. These notes describe how we go about organising group and individual assessments, their objectives and content, and the benefits. Background Psychometric assessments are instrumental at every stage in an employee's life cycle. Psychometric (or psychological) assessments use systematic and standardised procedures to measure differences in individual characteristics such as intelligence and personality. They provide a greater understanding of potential and current employees. They help to predict, objectively and fairly, how successful they will be in a job. They are used in some form by 70% of employers. There is a huge range of tests on the market. Psychometric testing falls into two principal categories: ability (where there is a right answer) and personality (no right answer). Some personality tests are not suitable for recruitment but are used for coaching. Some assess motivation and values. Assessments can provide information on: intellectual functioning personality and vocational interests managerial aptitude, such as decision making, numerical ability, leadership and skills in communication developmental needs. Assessments can be used for recruitment, picking out people with the potential for promotion and redirecting career paths so that people are in jobs that more closely match their skills and aptitudes. The process reduces the likelihood of poor and expensive selection decisions and helps current employees to understand their behavioural style, their strengths and areas for development. Often they are used in conjunction with a structured interview to provide a rounded view of a candidate. Selection Development Promotion Departure
  4. 4. Psychometric assessments 2 Assessments can also be useful during restructuring. This might be as part of a process of selection for redundancy or redeployment, or in outplacement – to help determine an employee's aptitude for alternative careers or jobs. For example, companies that frequently acquire other businesses might insist that all incoming middle and senior managers are assessed in the same way that incumbent staff have been. Our psychologists and assessors all have the qualifications and experience to select, administer and interpret a wide range of psychological tests. Design and process Most assessments use a selection of tools designed to meet a company's particular needs. An existing competency framework for managers can help to determine the most appropriate tests, or discussion with a client will bring out the qualities that are most sought after. Collinson Grant frequently offers a full-day assessment for prospective middle and senior managers. This is a comprehensive and challenging day. It produces a full and objective picture of each candidate. To confirm the content: we discuss with the client which candidates or employees are to be assessed we agree the purpose of the assessment and determine the battery of tests and other activities that will be used – including ability, personality and interview we invite the candidates or employees to the assessment, providing them with information about the objectives of the day and how it will be structured we complete the assessment and provide each participant with feedback. Assessments are held at our premises or at a suitable 'third-party' venue. There are advantages in the location being neutral. We prepare a written report about each person. It presents the performance in each test and compares it with suitable norms – the general population and/or the client's managerial population, if data are available. We summarise how the candidate performed during the day and our views on their suitability or otherwise for the post envisaged. Finally, we make recommendations on personal development for the candidate. Content A standard full-day assessment might comprise at least six types of test: verbal reasoning, graded in difficulty according to job level (variable in duration but typically 25 minutes) numerical reasoning, graded in difficulty according to job level (variable in duration but typically 35 minutes)
  5. 5. Psychometric assessments 3 personality (not timed, but approximately 40 minutes plus feedback) spatial and mechanical reasoning (approximately 40 minutes) business decision making (approximately 40 minutes) situational judgement (approximately 40 minutes). There are also tests for assessing managerial judgement and estimating, and more extensive 'case study' assessments which require candidates to analyse information about a scenario, develop conclusions and recommendations, and provide a written report or make a presentation to assessors. An interview is not an essential part of an assessment but may be helpful in getting background information on the candidate or exploring questions raised by the assessment. There are different options for feedback: oral feedback to the candidate at the end of the day, plus oral feedback to the company at the end of the day – followed by a written report within 48 hours. Tools Our view is that only personality tests (we use OPP 16PF) are suitable to be completed online, either remotely or in the workplace. Ability tests should be completed in a supervised environment, usually in the workplace or during an assessment. In addition to verbal, numerical, spatial and other tests of reasoning, we use a specific test of general intelligence – the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (AIS). It is robust, well tested and provides normative data for the adult population. The Wechsler intelligence test must be administered by a qualified psychologist. A wide range of options for designing a suitable test We agree with clients how they want the assessment to be organised and what tools should be used. The options for objective assessments include: Aptitude Decision making Estimating Group (2+)/Individual Intelligence Interview/No interview Numerical reasoning
  6. 6. Psychometric assessments 4 Personality Situational judgement Spatial and mechanical reasoning Verbal reasoning Written report/No written report. Other products Common formats for assessment In addition to standard assessments of ability (numerical, verbal and intelligence), personality and aptitude, there are a number of other options. Assessment centres These use a range of bespoke questionnaires, case studies and structured interviews which increase the validity and reliability of decisions about selection and promotion. An assessment centre might be used to test up to 12 candidates at one time. Any more and the group becomes difficult to manage. We have also used one-day assessment centres to audit leadership skills and potential within an internal tier of management or throughout whole departments. Other options One-day individual or dual assessment for managerial/director appointments, internal promotion to the next level or a lateral move. One-day assessment centre for between three and ten candidates as part of a selection process for a managerial/director vacancy. Revealing the full picture Many assessments start with a recap of the candidate's educational and vocational history. It is useful to examine their 'starting point' and the progress of their career to date. The next assessment task will then be a series of tests on intellectual functioning and numerical reasoning. It is not uncommon for the test results on the day to show a marked misalignment with the attainment levels that a candidate reached at school. For myriad reasons, many successful managers underachieve educationally and yet eventually go on to hold senior positions. The psychometric assessment is just one way of revealing what their true potential might be.
  7. 7. Psychometric assessments 5 One-day development centre for identifying the leadership development needs of a tranche of managers/directors with a view to providing feedback and follow-up executive coaching. Executive/managerial coaching and support programmes Following assessment, we have used structured coaching programmes to develop senior leaders by concentrating on particular weaknesses or developmental needs. These can take the form of a series of monthly, one-to-one coaching sessions with senior managers over a period of six months or more to develop potential within their current job, as they lead change or as they prepare for promotion. The coaching process can be 'kick-started' using feedback from either psychometric personality tests or output from a one-day development centre. Sessions typically last between 90 and 120 minutes each and explore personal motivation, values, strengths and limitations as well as obstacles and catalysts for personal and business change, growth and achievement. In conjunction with the sponsoring manager, the focus of the coaching can be tailored to meet organisational or business need; for example restructuring, diversification, empowerment, or customer/service focus. Specialist coaching and support can be tailored for other requirements, for instance: to offer outplacement support for displaced executives, helping them to reassess their career goals and plan objectively for the future to provide specialist support – often over a period of several months – for employees who have undergone trauma in a work-related incident, such as violent theft or a serious accident. Case study Collinson Grant was asked to design and run an assessment process for all the staff in the Buying department at a supplier of educational products. Its aim was to help to evaluate the skills and competences of employees against newly defined and more challenging job specifications. The company needed an objective process on which to base decisions about restructuring. Our approach was: to review the new job specifications and cluster all relevant skills and competences under six core headings – knowledge, numeracy, strategic thinking, people, supplier management and approach to decide on how best to assess each factor. We determined that a numeracy test, an interview, and a case study presentation would be appropriate to design a set of interview questions and a case study, and to devise a scoring system that could convert all data on the candidates into a simple numerical comparison.
  8. 8. Psychometric assessments 6 The assessments provided a firm basis for the company to act. It reduced the size of the Buying team significantly. The results also provided managers with robust evidence to explain why a given candidate had either passed or failed and to support any decision as necessary in any subsequent tribunal hearing. The company's Director of Organisational Development and People commented: '… You have helped and supported this organisational turnaround with diligence and respect for the people directly affected whilst remaining neutral and highly professional throughout. The ability to quickly assimilate our requirements and more importantly adapt quickly to the changing circumstances and complexity of the exercise was seamless…' About Collinson Grant Collinson Grant offers a comprehensive range of skills in managing human resources and employment law. It covers: Employee relations Employment law – including annual support contracts Job evaluation Labour turnover Managerial development and training Performance management Recruitment and interim support Restructuring and managing redundancy Reward Trades unions Workforce planning. 190313
  9. 9. Costs People Organisation Productivity Performance Restructuring United Kingdom Mainland Europe United States of America Complexity, Direct costs, Employee relations, Employment law, Implementing change, Integrating organisations, Lean, Managerial controls, Organisational design, Overheads, Performance management, Pricing, Process improvement, Procurement, Reward, Supply chain, Transitional management, Value chain analysis, Workforce planning
  10. 10. 33 St James’s Square London SW1Y 4JS United Kingdom Telephone +44 20 7661 9382 Facsimile +44 20 7661 9400 Ryecroft Aviary Road Worsley Manchester M28 2WF United Kingdom Telephone +44 161 703 5600 Facsimile +44 161 790 9177 Web