How to get the best out of your people... A TalentLens Guide to using psychometrics and other instruments in Recruitment, Learning and Development

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1 How to get the best out of your people... A TalentLens Guide to using psychometrics and other instruments in Recruitment, Learning and Development This guide has been produced by TalentLens,, the global occupational test publishing arm of Pearson. TalentLens publishes a range of assessments to help organisations recruit and develop the right people in the right way. The guide includes: Assessing for recruitment Assessing for development Assessment tools and tests How to administer and interpret tests Helpful links and resources

2 Assessing for recruitment... As anyone who has ever recruited staff will know there are a number of ways that potential hires are assessed. The most common ways involve: completing an application form, submitting a CV often with a covering letter, a phone and/or face-to-face interview and possibly a skill test (for example a typing test, IT test or language test) or a even short trial in the role. The type of assessment tends to vary according to the nature of the role and the level. In addition to the above methods, many organisations also use psychometric instruments and assessment tools to provide further evidence to help them make the most informed decision about the candidate's fit to the role. Sifting-out and selecting-in candidates Most organisations recruiting staff do some form of screening of initial applicants before progressing to the more costly stages of the hiring process. This screening stage is called sifting-out. When applicant numbers for a role are high, sifting-out the candidates least likely to succeed in the role becomes even more important. The sifting-out process should be fair, consistent, time-efficient and cost-effective. Screening candidates is sometimes carried out by recruitment consultants and head-hunters, but their fees are generally high. Sifting tools include: CV/application form screening Experience and qualifications attained Online psychometric/assessment tests Telephone interview (although this can be costly and time intensive) Selecting-in is the stage in the recruitment process where a smaller number of suitable applicants has been highlighted and further assessments at a "centre" will determine the one who has the best fit to the role or organisation. A typical recruitment process Reducing applicant numbers Sifting-out stages Select-in stage

3 Assessment Centres The term assessment centre refers to a number of tests and exercises designed to assess the full range of skills, competencies and attributes required for a specific role. Because they are time intensive and costly to run, assessment centres are usually reserved for the better applicants at the later stages of the assessment process. Assessment centres are commonly held in one place (although some questionnaires may be completed before-hand) and the process can last from half a day up to two days. It is increasingly common in large organisations, however, for there to be many stages to the assessment centre. Assessing for development... The aim of any development programme is to improve the effectiveness of individuals and enhance employee engagement and motivation. Self-awareness enables people to become more aware of their preferences and work style, and in turn work more effectively with others. Only by improving their self-awareness will they have the means to build on their strengths and focus on potential areas for development. Using the right assessment tools to enhance self-awareness leads to more focused and successful development activities and programmes for employees. Assessment tools can be used to identify ability, behavioural and interpersonal styles, and team strengths and blind-spots. Whether you are working to enhance an individual's success in their role or you are involved in talent management decisions, assessment tools offer unique and invaluable insight. What are assessment tests? Assessment tests have been developed to help recruiters assess individuals fairly, consistently and cost-effectively. Increasingly recruiters require assessment tests to be online so that candidates can be assessed quickly and efficiently, although most tests are still available in paper format if required. Psychometric Tests Assessment tests are often called psychometric tests. They are designed to measure an individual's intelligence level as well as how people think, behave, make decisions, and learn. Psychometric tests are used routinely to identify and/or help develop individuals for appropriate roles in many different industries. Psychometric tests have been used in various settings for over 50 years, although the adoption of tests has risen dramatically in the last years particularly due to selection and development processes becoming more refined and related to cost and efficiency savings, but also due to the increased mobility of people within and across occupations, professions and industries. In addition, the evolution of the internet has allowed for more cost-effective recruitment technologies. Assessment tests generally fall in to the following categories: Aptitude or ability tests which measure general intelligence and can help predict future potential Personality tests measuring aspects of style or preference Situational judgement tests

4 Aptitude or ability tests These tests are designed to measure an individual's fluid intelligence which alongside crystallised intelligence is a factor of general intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to reason, find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems. In the context of recruitment, those candidates who perform well in aptitude tests are more likely to be able to learn and perform well in the role. Because aptitude testing looks beyond skills that have already been acquired, the tests can identify future potential in an applicant and, in all but the most routine roles, an indicator of this can be useful. Aptitude tests generally fall in to the following categories: Verbal tests - such as verbal reasoning and analysis. Numerical tests - such as numerical reasoning, analysis and sequential tests. Inductive or abstract reasoning, diagrammatic and spatial reasoning which measure logic and the ability to deal with shapes. Specific tests - for example Bennett (a test of mechanical comprehension). The benefits of using aptitude tests include: They provide a means of objective assessment ensuring that every candidate is considered on the same basis. If used appropriately they are proven to differentiate the best from just the average. They offer the recruiter more evidence on which to base the hiring decision. When used early on, they can save time and money in the recruitment process. Personality questionnaires These are not tests but questionnaires which are completed by the applicant and provide a profile of the individual's personality broken down in to scales. There are three main types of personality questionnaires measuring one or more of the following: Personality Traits Values Personality Preferences or "Type" Trait based questionnaires These instruments measure specific characteristics or individual traits along a number of scales. Examples of scales would include how socially bold a person is or how much they follow rules. Personality traits are closely linked to behaviour and can therefore give clues as to how well they might fit in to a role or the culture of an organisation. Trait instruments are often used in recruitment and they can help formulate interview questions. They can also be used in staff development interventions. Values-based questionnaires Values are important to both individuals and business. Many organisations have Corporate and Brand values which should be reflected in their products and services and in all interactions with their stakeholders and

5 current and prospective customers. Staff members may be expected to reflect and demonstrate these values in how they think and behave. From an individual's perspective, personal satisfaction is dependent, to a large extent, upon the degree to which values can be expressed in everyday life. Measuring values is seen to be important because values may be instrumental in determining what people do, the effort they put in to what they do and how well they perform. An individual's immediate decisions as well as their long-range plans are influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by their value system. It is worth noting that values on their own may not predict future job success but measuring them can certainly help formulate questions and hypotheses which can be explored at interview. Current research suggests that, in many instances, the mindset of someone applying for a role can be as important, or even more important, than their skills. In today's fast moving world many employers cannot say with certainty what skills will be required by their staff in ten years time but they know exactly the sort or people they will want working for them in terms of their mindset. Measuring values can be useful, therefore, to help both individuals and organisations determine how aligned the values are. Measuring personality traits and values combined together can provide a richer starting point to explore mindset than personality traits alone. The TalentLens' instrument SOSIE measures both traits and values in one instrument. Preference or Type questionnaires: Type personality questionnaires look at an individual's personality preferences in certain areas and they are constructed differently to trait instruments. They are not used in recruitment but they are deployed in development interventions such as coaching or team building. TalentLens Golden Personality type Profiler (GPTP) contains both Type and one Trait scales. Learning and cognitive style Personality assessments also include questionnaires that look at an individual s style of processing information and learning. Again, these are not recommended for use in recruitment, but are valuable tools to develop individuals self awareness as part of a development plan. TalentLens Cognitive Style Index provides a profile of an individual s preference and approach to problem solving, learning, decision making and carrying out tasks. The Learning Styles Questionnaire gives individuals all the tools they need to identify their preferred learning style(s), go on to select learning opportunities that suit stronger styles and develop their weaker ones. Situational Judgement Tests Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) assess a job applicant's skills, behaviours, thoughts and judgement when faced with particular situations. Candidates are asked to rate the appropriateness of possible responses. They are generally completed online and unsupervised and used at the sifting-out stages to remove those candidates whose responses to routinely experience situations are less appropriate than others. Ability test SJT Personality Values Performance

6 The IRIS range of SJTs are off-the-shelf tests which have been thoroughly and extensively researched to contain highly realistic tasks, scenarios and situations that are similar to those likely to be encountered in the role. This makes them extremely relevant and ensures they have high face and content validity. Currently tests are available for the following roles: Customer service advisors Graduates Junior Managers Sales people Qualifications required to use psychometric tests Training in the use of psychometric tests provides the skills required to understand and evaluate psychometric tests both for quality and relevance to a given job role. Training is crucial as misuse of tests can lead to a number of potentially damaging consequences for both the test taker and the organisation. For example, misinterpretation of a test result or profile can result in a test-taker having incorrect information logged against their application or development plan. Finally, psychometric tests should never be used in isolation and as the sole basis for decision making but rather to feed into a larger assessment process incorporating other assessment methods such as an interview or an exercise. Test User Ability Training In order to purchase, administer and interpret most ability tests, the recruiter should hold the British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited Test User Ability qualification (formerly 'Level A'). This 3 day course is offered by TalentLens and once completed it allows you to purchase ability tests from the majority of test publishers. In the absence of trained test users in your organisation, TalentLens can provide consultants who can administer the tests, score them if necessary and provide feedback to candidates if required. Test User Personality Training In order to administer and interpret personality questionnaires, most test publishers require the user to have product specific training or hold the BPS accredited Test User Personality qualification (formerly Level B ) in the particular instrument, which covers a syllabus set by the BPS. At present, TalentLens offers Test User Personality training in either SOSIE or Golden, as well as product specific training and conversion courses for those already trained to use similar instruments. Which test(s) should I use? TalentLens team of Occupational Psychologists can advise you which tests might be most suitable depending on the role you are recruiting for, the level of the position and any known background to the candidates. There must be a reasoned justification for the use of a test, in a given situation. For example, if an employee is required to have good communication in a particular role, then a verbal reasoning test may be appropriate for

7 use in recruitment. This is usually determined following a job analysis and consideration of other job relevant information. Which assessment is right for you? The product matrix can be seen on TalentLens.co.uk Psychometric tests should be reliable and valid for purpose. Reliability refers to the test s consistency across use, while validity refers to the capability of the test to measure what it purports to measure. A good way of understanding this is to consider a wristwatch that is set to the wrong time, but works as normal - this would be reliable, but ultimately not valid. Test Administration The mode of test administration can vary firstly in format: paper, via computer and over the internet; and secondly by level of supervision: supervised (controlled or managed) and unsupervised. The testing experience can represent an important component of the relationship between a test-taker and organisation. A poor testing experience for candidates for a job can result in an application being discontinued; for a current employee, it can mean they question the professionalism or seriousness of the process. To facilitate a fair and positive candidate experience tests should be conducted in a suitable environment which is consistent for all test-takers. Practice tests or examples of questions should be provided to help all test-takers prepare for the real test. This provides test takers with an indication of what to expect and can help reduce test related anxiety. A test-taker should also be informed of and consent to the reason for the test being conducted and how their information will be used and accessed. Interpretation The interpretation of a test is a crucial part of the testing process. The interpretation of a test has implications for both test-takers and for the decision making processes within a recruitment or development situation. The interpretation of ability and personality tests should only be made by a trained user. In situations where personality measures are used, the profile of an individual is usually explored through a supplementary interview process in which evidence is sought to reinforce or challenge the results of the profile report.

8 Feedback If a candidate is asked to complete a psychometric test as part of the selection process, it is good practice to offer candidates feedback if requested. The communication of outcomes from testing is of crucial importance for the test-taker as this can often have consequences for how the test taker perceives the process and your organisation. The type or degree of feedback given can differ according to the context of the testing process as well as the type of psychometric test used. What languages are available? TalentLens tests are available in different languages but check with the UK team for the definitive list. Generally personality, verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning tests are carried out in the candidate's mother tongue but if fluency in English is a requirement for the role then it is acceptable to test in English. Abstract and diagramatic reasoning tests like Raven's are non-linguistic and they are popular for measuring intelligence in a multicultural pool of applicants. Fairness in Testing & Equal Opportunities Well developed psychometric tests can provide important and objective information for the process in which they are used (e.g. recruitment). However, consideration to issues of fairness should be taken to ensure tests do not disadvantage any section of the population based on ethnic minority background, gender, sexuality, religion, age or native language. Adequate arrangements must be made for test takers with hearing, visual or motor impairments, or any other disabilities in relation to the test to be taken and the job role (e.g. specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia). The test publisher can advise on current best practice. Confidentiality and Data Protection The process of data protection is a complex and ever-changing issue which varies across region and context. Often what is appropriate and acceptable in one region can be inappropriate or unacceptable in another. The confidentiality of the testing material and test taker's results should adhere to current data protection laws in the country or region in which testing is to be conducted. Data should only be used for the purposes it was gathered for, that is, contributing towards recruitment decisions or as input into a development process. Consent should also be gained from the test-taker to use the data for these purposes.

9 Helpful links for further reference regarding tests and best practice Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) website - The CIPD is the professional body for those involved in the management and development of people. The CIPD provides information on best practice use of Psychometric tests. British Psychological society website - The British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK. Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) website - The British Psychological Society's Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) provides a focus for all Society activities in relation to psychological testing. The PTC website provides access to information about tests and testing. Whether you are a psychologist, a test user or a member of the public interested in knowing more about testing, the PTC website is a valuable resource. AssessmentDay website - AssessmentDay provides information on a wide variety of ability and assessment centre exercises, and practice test examples of the most popular ability tests. AssessmentDay was set up to help job seekers find out about the psychometric tests commonly used by employers. By being familiar with the style and layout of aptitude tests, knowing what to expect, and knowing how their score will be used, candidates are less flustered and are better able to perform to their best ability.

10 TalentLens Products for Recruitment Skills Tests Versant: Assesses levels of spoken English language skills necessary for a work role or job. It is unusual in that it measures both how much a person understands as well as how much they are understood. It is often used in safety critical roles and by local authorities to test taxi licence applicants. The test is automated and taken on the phone and used as a sifting tool. GCT-R* (General Clerical Test): This test assesses clerical speed and accuracy, numerical ability and verbal ability. Ability/aptitude tests Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal: this is a highly respected instrument for measuring critical thinking ability and decision making in high-potential professionals, new managers, graduates and future leaders. Critical Thinking Ability is higher level verbal reasoning. Online and paper and pencil versions of the test are available and it can be used for both sifting-out and selecting in. Raven's Progressive Matrices*: Raven s is a leading global non-verbal measure of mental ability, helping to identify individuals with advanced observation and clear thinking skills who can handle the complexity and ambiguity of the modern workplace. Raven's measures inductive or abstract reasoning. Two tests aimed at different levels are available: Advanced Progressive Matrices for graduate levels and above and Standard Progressive Matrices for entry level. Online and paper and pencil versions of the test are available. Rust Advanced Numerical Reasoning Appraisal* (RANRA): Measures higher-level numerical reasoning and is the equivalent of Watson-Glaser "with numbers." Numerical reasoning ability is vital for employees who need to make decisions using financial statements, trends and statistics, sales data, performance metrics and other information. Online and paper and pencil versions of the test are available. DAT and Core Abilities*: These tests are aimed at entry or apprentice level roles. DAT is a suite of paper and pencil tests and contains 1) the General Abilities Battery measuring verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning and 2) the Technical Abilities Battery combining the following: numerical, abstract, mechanical reasoning and space relations. DAT is available in paper and pencil versions. Core Abilities is an online test measuring verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning in one test. Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test (BMCT)*: Assesses candidates for mechanical, technical and manufacturing roles. This is available in paper and pencil format only Online Situational Judgement Tests IRIS SJTs: This range of situational judgement tests is used as online sifting tools. The tests expose candidates to realistic scenarios and dilemmas they are likely to encounter in a role. Tests are available for customer facing and junior managerial roles and a test for sales roles is being developed. * These tests are used at the select-in stages and should be completed under supervised conditions

11 Personality Instruments Sosie: This in-depth instrument measures personality traits, interpersonal values and personal values. Two people with the same personality traits may act differently according to their values system. A clash between personal values and organisational values can often lead to disillusionment in a role or with an organisation. The questionnaire is available online Orpheus: This is a trait based personality instrument based on the "Big Five" Orpheus is a work-based measure of personality providing a comprehensive measure of a candidate's personality and assessing traits that will contribute to an individual's performance at work. Available online or as a paper test with a bureau-scoring service. Giotto: This trait based instrument represents one of the first measures of personal integrity to be entirely developed in the UK. The measure is particularly suited for use pre-interview, indicating particular aspects of a candidate's work-based behaviour and attitudes which may benefit from further probing. Available online or as a paper test with a bureau - scoring service. TalentLens Products for Development Golden: This is a personality instrument which helps employees understand how they make decisions and relate to others. Unlike some simplistic type-oriented assessments, Golden identifies both a Jungian 4-letter personality type, a fifth global scale looking at responses to stress and the more complex traits that account for subtle differences between people of the same type. Golden is widely used for coaching, leadership and team development and career counselling. Learning Styles Questionnaire: The well-renowned and widely used Honey and Mumford learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) is derived from Kolb's learning cycle and measures learning preferences in individuals. It is a highly cost-effective self-development instrument which has been used in thousands of organisations around the world to help stimulate individuals into thinking about the way they learn from experience (which most take for granted). Understanding your learning style can improve learning and make it more effective. Available either online or in a paper-and-pencil version, the tool looks at an individual's preferred way of learning and provides in-depth advice and tips to help develop the less preferred areas. Cognitive Style Index: This is an online questionnaire assessing an individual's preferred way of learning in terms of the way they gather, process and evaluate data in order to solve problems, make decisions and carry out tasks. Careful research and development has resulted in a highly reliable and valid measure of cognitive style with excellent psychometric credentials. The practical profile report is aimed at employees who want to understand more about their own and others' preferences. Peter Honey Behavioural Series: This suite of 33 self-assessment questionnaires is designed to help people develop the capabilities (competencies) that combine to give sustained excellent performance. The people who really make a difference in an organisation are adaptable, have high standards, are good problem-solvers, have well developed interpersonal skills and are self-managing. All these aspects are thoroughly explored. There is also a Behavioural Needs Analysis Questionnaire which is ideal if individuals are unsure which competencies are most important for them as it prioritises those that are most relevant to their specific role which they can then use to complete follow-up questionnaires in those areas. For further information visit

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