“Something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.”
I had an interesting session the other day with someone who kindly agreed to be a subject in the calibration phase of one of the assessments I’ve recently developed. After discussing his feedback, he gave me honest food for thought. The questions he asked were, I’m sure, on the minds of many candidates as well as employers: How fair, accurate and truly reflective is it to attempt to quantify human behaviour into statistically significant data, and in layman’s terms, class each personality profile into a “box”?
As part of Holistan’s comprehensive offering, we afford the client AND the candidate access to FREE feedback with every assessment battery booked. I remember when offering another candidate her feedback, she politely declined. Her reasoning was that she did not want to learn about her assessment results, because she felt that it may lead her to categorising herself in a way that would limit her potential; she said, “what if you tell me strategic capability is X; if I don’t know that, the sky is my limit to be all I can be” – which I fully appreciated.
So how accurate are psychometric assessments? And how fair is it that we are taking human being – rich, complex, complicated, textured human beings – and profiling them for our intended uses, such as selection, succession planning and the like?
If you’ve done a course in statistics, terms such as probabilities, reliability, validity, statistical significance and the normal distribution curve may sound familiar. For those of us who haven’t, the story in a nutshell is that psychometric assessments are subject to rigorous processors to deem them, well, valid – or “accurate”. The probability of the assessment results being a reflection of that individual is also dependant on factors such as if the assessment was used in a fair manner, what norm (population) group was selected, and so on and so forth. Thanks to our capacity to quantify human behaviour, we can, with confidence, make predictions using this data regarding the likelihood of a person performing in a particular job role, for example.
I may be crucified for this, but as social scientists, I would imagine that most of my peers would agree with me in saying that there will always be room for error. I’m not sure what the perception may be by employers and the like, but I would not be surprised at opinions that think Psychometrists and Industrial Psychologists choose a number of assessments when assessing a candidate as a revenue generating exercise. To set the record straight, however, when a candidate completes a battery of assessments (as opposed to one or two), commonalities can be fleshed out and a meaningful picture becomes forges.
In my professional experience, the most valid, valuable predictors for job success in selection includes assessment centres – which incorporates everything from cognitive assessments, skills and ability tests, business case problems to solve, behavioural assessments – to name a few.
When naming my business, I chose the name “Holistan” as a departure from the word “holistic”. That is, a systems, integrative approach to assessments. It’s generally my philosophy to most things I approach in life – should one want to lose weight, I’m sure most dieticians and other health professionals would agree that you can’t just do exercise yet each junk food and expect to get that six pack. A more holistic approach is favoured. Full stop.
The moral of the story? When choosing a provider for your assessment needs, ensure they provide you with a customised solution – not a standard, one-size-fits all battery of assessments. And DO NOT base a decision on one slice of the pie; pay attention to face value interviews, references, experience, qualifications, etc.
Are psychometric assessments a full proof, guaranteed, 100% faultless method of matching prospective candidates to a job role? No. There will always be Mr Anomaly - you know, the ONE candidate who gets into your head instead of the other way around. But for the most part, we as sophisticated social scientists attempt to ensure that you have the highest probability of success in choosing the “right” candidate. Whatever 'right' means to you…
By: Marzenna Almendro
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