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How do psychometric testing and assessment centres help to make the selection process more effective in providing evidence of whether an applicant has the necessary skills and competencies needed to perform well?

In Human Resource Management Recruitment is defined as “searching for and obtaining potential job candidates in sufficient numbers and quality so that the organisation can select the most appropriate people to fill its job needs” (Dowling and Schuler, 1990); whereas selection is concerned more with “predicting which candidates will make the most appropriate contribution to the organisation – now and in the future” (Hackett, 1991). Attracting the best person for the job, minimising staff turnover and the improvement of employee performance are all a vital part of the effective resourcing that ensures a comprehensive overview of various fundamental management issues. Psychometric is created from the Greek words meaning mental and measurement. The objective of Psychometric tests is to measure the features of your mental ability or your personality. The experience of psychometric testing is a part of the recruitment or selection processes are designed to provide employers with a reliable method of selecting the most suitable job applicants.

An Assessment Centre is a process and not a location in this case, that is being gradually used by most organizations to assess individuals as part of the recruitment process or for internal promotion. The Assessment Centre includes a set of varied exercises which are intended to suggest different aspects of the work environment and has the definition of “A method for assessing aptitude and performance, applied to a group of participants by trained assessors using various aptitude diagnostic processes in order to obtain information of the abilities or development potential of the individuals.” The recruitment process has been very costly and time-consuming, therefore organization are concerned if the wrong candidates are selected because it increases the potential costs which are usually extremely high. Once they have been employed, regardless of how unsuitable they may be, employment legislation makes it both costly and risky to fire people in organisations. Employee rights and the real risk of expensive lawsuit are even more important to the organisation to choose the right person from the beginning.

In identifying top candidates that will interact well with others and fit in well in the organisation culture, the most effective ways are seen with the process of Assessment Centres. According to “the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s ‘Recruitment, Retention and Turnover 2009 Survey, 34 per cent of employers now use assessment Centres when recruiting managers, professionals and graduates.” As organizations seek to make more accurate selection and promotion decisions the figures will definitely increase. The procedures when selecting potential candidates remains the same, which means that the process of advertising remains the same where individuals are encouraged to send in their resumes.

Which is then processed by the organisation to determine if the necessary experience and qualifications that is required are met. After the screening process you may then be asked to participate in the psychometric testing process. The aims are to measure attributes such as intelligence, aptitude and personality, that provides the potential employer with an insight of how well you interact and work with other people, how well stress is handled, and whether you are capable of handling the intellectual demands of the job, which can help in making the selection process more effective as well as give evidence of the skills and competencies of the individual.

Some of the main reasons why organisations use psychometric testing and assessment centres are firstly, because the candidates can over-prepare their resume which means that they can say what they can do on paper but not necessarily do what they have said they could do. Secondly, their educational achievements would show that they are qualified but may not have the ability and skills for a real work situation. Thirdly, they can over prepare for the interview, and the interviewer could show unacceptable bias and lastly it can also be costly and legal risks of firing. Psychometric testing and Assessment centres are designed to overcome these issues and help to narrow the selection process of individuals to save time and by investing in the valuable individuals that would possess the skills and competencies that are required to meet the needs of the organisation. There are two psychometric selection tests, firstly the personality and interest test and secondly, the aptitude and ability tests. These measures and provides the evidence of the individual’s ability to perform or carry out different tasks, while the personality questionnaires measures the way of doing things and mainly the way they interact in your environment with other people. These aptitudes test assesses your logical reasoning or thinking performance.

A method of the assessment centre involves numerous evaluation techniques, which includes different types of working models, and occasionally psychological tests as well as interviews. Assessment centres uses some of the following job simulations which are in-basket exercises, group discussions, simulations of interviews with “subordinates” or “clients”, fact-finding exercises, analysis/decision-making problems, also oral presentation exercises and, written communication exercises. All these are strategies to measure the individual’s skills and competencies. The main objectives are to determine the behaviour associated to the most considerable aspects of the position or level for which the person’s are being considered, known as “dimensions” or “competencies”. The behaviours, motivations, and types of knowledge that are important for the accomplishment in the proposed position are identified from the job analysis process.

Throughout assessment the job simulations bring out person’s performance or understanding in the target dimensions that can also give the evidence of the individual’s ability to meet the required skills and competences to perform well if they were recruited. Assessment centres are increasingly used as a main element of the selection process to recruit candidates for positions at all levels within the work environment. Organizations today are favouring this approach as assessment centres are effective in which they gain the advantages of giving a healthier, thorough and fair approach to the selection process. It eliminates the potential errors of selecting individuals by interviews alone that are usually relied upon; whereby, assessments of particular criteria for the position can be designed and customized by the organization to critically assess the individual’s performance. The process often tends to be independent and unbiased and the individual also benefits from the process because it is independent and unbiased which they are given the opportunity to show how knowledgeable they are and what skills, competencies and experience they can offer, over various exercises and throughout a longer period of time than the traditional selection process allows and will also receive a feedback report which is useful for their prospect growth.

Many organizations uses the psychometric test and assessment mainly for the selection of higher level employees such as managers, supervisors etc. In Trinidad and Tobago it is rarely used because it tends to be very expensive, the larger organizations use it because they can afford it as well as they would have a lot of higher level employees that are great assets to the organization. The case study of Lloyds TSB Bank who is a large multinational company in the UK with a reputable character for providing training and development and long term career opportunities. Last year they received 3800 applicants of which 102 was eventually employed, to help with the sifting of applicants and in the selection process Lloyds TSB Bank used the psychometric testing and assessment centres. They designed the online application form with competency based questions that were a 20 minutes numerical reasoning test that was completed online, where eighteen hundred (1800) candidates were chosen to enter the second stage.

The psychometric assessment was sophisticated whereby each candidate is given a random set of questions which means that no more than one person can get the same test and it eliminates cheating so that the candidates cannot prepare in advance for the test. Candidates are then selected on their scores and telephone interviews are undertaken with the remaining. At this point the bank is given evidence of the type of candidates expected to move on the next stage. Statistics showed that last year six hundred candidates went on to the final stage of assessment centres. They ran a twenty four (24) hour process (5 pm to 5pm the following day) for twelve or twenty four candidates at a time. They are then involved in interviews, case-study presentations, group exercises and role play while the bank’s accredited assessors are present to observe each candidate and take notes. The candidates are also given the paper based numerical reasoning test as one of their strategy to ensure and verify scores that the candidate took on the previous online test.

These test and processes are designed to give evidence of whether the candidate has the skills and competencies required to perform well in the position. Employers are given the opportunities to see how well the candidates perform in different situations and how well they work with people as well as how they react under stress and what level of commitment they possess if they are recruited into the organisation. The bank recognises that career development comes down to investment, so they constantly invest time, money, care and attention needed to select the right people and to help its graduates join the ranks of its top people. In conclusion psychometric testing and assessment centres have proven to help make the selection process more effective by the design of online tests to sift the candidates that matches the required competences. Assessment centres has also been able to provide evidence of whether the applicant has the necessary skills and competencies needed to perform well by the process of the assessment centres methods used to evaluate the candidates overall performance and measure the level of capabilities which are necessary for the workplace.


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