See Chapter 11 from the textbook attached, the article by Baez (2013), the assigned chapters in the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (2006) guide, and view the video Psychometric testing and employment.?
Use the PSY640 Checklist for Evaluating Tests document attached to compare two assessment instruments used in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology assessment? Based on the information in the text and assigned readings, select and evaluate two psychological tests used in industrial-organizational psychological assessment. Do not evaluate any of the tests evaluated in Applications in Personality Testing document attached?
In addition to chapter 11 from text attached, locate a minimum of two appropriate scholarly and/or peer-reviewed sources to aid in the analysis of the psychometric properties of the instruments based on published data. Provide the names of the two tests you evaluated, and attach your completed PSY640 Checklist for Evaluating Tests document.Please maintain the original format of the PSY640 Checklist for Evaluating Tests document attached and include the chapter 11 from the textbook and two additional scholarly and/or peer-reviewed sources in the references section?.
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Cornell HR Review
Personality Tests in Employment Selection: Use With Caution H. Beau Baez Charlotte School of Law
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Personality Tests in Employment Selection: Use With Caution
Abstract [Excerpt] Many employers utilize personality tests in the employment selection process to identify people who have more than just the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in their jobs. If anecdotes are to be believed—Dilbert must be getting at something or the cartoon strip would not be so popular—the work place is full of people whose personalities are a mismatch for the positions they hold. Psychology has the ability to measure personality and emotional intelligence (“EQ”), which can provide employers with data to use in the selection process. “Personality refers to an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits” and “emotional intelligence consists of the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion.” By using a scientific approach in hiring, employers can increase their number of successful employees.
Keywords HR Review, Human Resources, employment selection, personality tests
Disciplines Human Resources Management | Labor Relations
Comments Suggested Citation: Baez H. (2013, January 26). Personality tests in employment selection: Use with caution. Cornell HR Review. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR School site: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/chrr/ 59
This article is available at [email protected]: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/chrr/59
CHAPTER 11 Industrial, Occupational, and Career Assessment
TOPIC 11A Industrial and Organizational Assessment 11.1 The Role of Testing in Personnel Selection 11.2 Autobiographical Data 11.3 The Employment Interview 11.4 Cognitive Ability Tests 11.5 Personality Tests 11.6 Paper-and-Pencil Integrity Tests 11.7 Work Sample and Situational Exercises 11.8 Appraisal of Work Performance 11.9 Approaches to Performance Appraisal 11.10 Sources of Error in Performance Appraisal
In this chapter we explore the specialized applications of testing within two distinctive environments—occupational settings and
vocational settings. Although disparate in many respects, these two fields of assessment share essential features. For example, legal guidelines exert a powerful and constraining influence upon the practice of testing in both arenas. Moreover, issues of empirical validation of methods are especially pertinent in occupational and areas of practice. In Topic 11A, Industrial and Organizational Assessment, we review the role of psychological tests in making decisions about personnel such as hiring, placement, promotion, and evaluation. In Topic 11B, Assessment for Career Development in a Global Economy, we analyze the unique challenges encountered by vocational psychologists who provide career guidance and assessment. Of course, relevant tests are surveyed and catalogued throughout. But more important, we focus upon the special issues and challenges encountered within these distinctive milieus. Industrial and organizational psychology (I/O psychology) is the subspecialty of psychology that deals with behavior in work situations (Borman, Ilgen, Klimoski, & Weiner, 2003). In
its broadest sense, I/O psychology includes diverse applications in business, advertising, and the military. For example, corporations typically consult I/O psychologists to help design and evaluate hiring procedures; businesses may ask I/O psychologists to appraise the effectiveness of advertising; and military leaders rely heavily upon I/O psychologists in the testing and placement of recruits. Psychological testing in the service of decision making about personnel is, thus, a prominent focus of this profession. Of course, specialists in I/O psychology possess broad skills and often handle many corporate responsibilities not previously mentioned. Nonetheless, there is no denying the centrality of assessment to their profession. We begin our review of assessment in the occupational arena by surveying the role of testing in personnel selection. This is followed by a discussion of ways that psychological measurement is used in the appraisal of work performance.
11.1 THE ROLE OF TESTING IN PERSONNEL SELECTION Complexities of Personnel Selection Based upon the assumption that psychological tests and assessments can provide valuable information about potential job performance, many businesses, corporations, and military settings have used test scores and assessment results for personnel selection. As Guion (1998) has noted, I/O research on personnel selection has emphasized criterion-related validity as opposed to content or construct validity. These other approaches to validity are certainly relevant but usually take a back seat to criterion- related validity, which preaches that current assessment results must predict the future criterion of job performance. From the standpoint of criterion-related validity, the logic of personnel selection is seductively simple. Whether in a large corporation or a small business, those who select employees should use tests or assessments that have documented, strong correlations with the
criterion of job performance, and then hire the individuals who obtain the highest test scores or show the strongest assessment results. What could be simpler than that? Unfortunately, the real-world application of employment selection procedures is fraught with psychometric complexities and legal pitfalls. The psychometric intricacies arise, in large measure, from the fact that job behavior is rarely simple, unidimensional behavior. There are some exceptions (such as assembly-line production) but the general rule in our postindustrial society is that job behavior is complex, multidimensional behavior. Even jobs that seem simple may be highly complex. For example, consider what is required for effective performance in the delivery of the U.S. mail. The individual who delivers your mail six days a week must do more than merely place it in your mailbox. He or she must accurately sort mail on the run, interpret and enforce government regulations about package size, manage pesky and even dangerous animals, recognize and avoid physical dangers, and
exercise effective interpersonal skills in dealing with the public, to cite just a few of the complexities of this position. Personnel selection is, therefore, a fuzzy, conditional, and uncertain task. Guion (1991) has highlighted the difficulty in predicting complex behavior from simple tests. For one thing, complex behavior is, in part, a function of the situation. This means that even an optimal selection approach may not be valid for all candidates. Quite clearly, personnel selection is not a simple matter of administering tests and consulting cutoff scores. We must also acknowledge the profound impact of legal and regulatory edicts upon I/O testing practices. Given that such practices may have weighty consequences—determining who is hired or promoted, for example—it is not surprising to learn that I/O testing practices are rigorously constrained by legal precedents and regulatory mandates. These topics are reviewed in Topic 12A, Psychological Testing and the Law.
Approaches to Personnel Selection Acknowledging that the interview is a widely used form of personnel assessment, it is safe to conclude that psychological assessment is almost a universal practice in hiring decisions. Even by a narrow definition that includes only paper-and-pencil measures, at least two-thirds of the companies in the United States engage in personnel testing (Schmitt & Robertson, 1990). For purposes of personnel selection, the I/O psychologist may recommend one or more of the following: • Autobiographical data • Employment interview • Cognitive ability tests • Personality, temperament, and motivation
tests • Paper-and-pencil integrity tests • Sensory, physical, and dexterity tests • Work sample and situational tests
We turn now to a brief survey of typical tests and assessment approaches within each of these
categories. We close this topic with a discussion of legal issues in personnel testing. 11.2 AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DATA According to Owens (1976), application forms that request personal and work history as well as demographic data such as age and marital status have been used in industry since at least 1894. Objective or scorable autobiographical data— sometimes called biodata—are typically secured by means of a structured form variously referred to as a biographical information blank, biographical data form, application blank, interview guide, individual background survey, or similar device. Although the lay public may not recognize these devices as true tests with predictive power, I/O psychologists have known for some time that biodata furnish an exceptionally powerful basis for the prediction of employee performance (Cascio, 1976; Ghiselli, 1966; Hunter & Hunter, 1984). An important milestone in the biodata approach is the publication of the Biodata Handbook, a
thorough survey of the use of biographical information in selection and the prediction of performance (Stokes, Mumford, & Owens, 1994). The rationale for the biodata approach is that future work-related behavior can be predicted from past choices and accomplishments. Biodata have predictive power because certain character traits that are essential for success also are stable and enduring. The consistently ambitious youth with accolades and accomplishments in high school is likely to continue this pattern into adulthood. Thus, the job applicant who served as editor of the high school newspaper—and who answers a biodata item to this effect—is probably a better candidate for corporate management than the applicant who reports no extracurricular activities on a biodata form. The Nature of Biodata Biodata items usually call for “factual” data; however, items that tap attitudes, feelings, and value judgments are sometimes included.
Except for demographic data such as age and marital status, biodata items always refer to past accomplishments and events. Some examples of biodata items are listed in Table 11.1. Once biodata are collected, the I/O psychologist must devise a means for predicting job performance from this information. The most common strategy is a form of empirical keying not unlike that used in personality testing. From a large sample of workers who are already hired, the I/O psychologist designates a successful group and an unsuccessful group, based on performance, tenure, salary, or supervisor ratings. Individual biodata items are then contrasted for these two groups to determine which items most accurately discriminate between successful and unsuccessful workers. Items that are strongly discriminative are assigned large weights in the scoring scheme. New applicants who respond to items in the keyed direction, therefore, receive high scores on the biodata instrument and are predicted to succeed. Cross validation of the scoring scheme on a second sample of
successful and unsuccessful workers is a crucial step in guaranteeing the validity of the biodata selection method. Readers who wish to pursue the details of empirical scoring methods for biodata instruments should consult Murphy and Davidshofer (2004), Mount, Witt, and Barrick (2000), and Stokes and Cooper (2001). TABLE 11.1 Examples of Biodata Questions How long have you lived at your present address? What is your highest educational degree? How old were you when you obtained your first paying job? How many books (not work related) did you read last month? At what age did you get your driver’s license? In high school, did you hold a class office? How punctual are you in arriving at work? What job do you think you will hold in 10 years? How many hours do you watch television in a typical week? Have you ever been fired from a job? How many hours a week do you spend on
The Validity of Biodata The validity of biodata has been surveyed by several reviewers, with generally positive findings (Breaugh, 2009; Stokes et al., 1994; Stokes & Cooper, 2004). An early study by Cascio (1976) is typical of the findings. He used a very simple biodata instrument—a weighted combination of 10 application blank items—to predict turnover for female clerical personnel in a medium-sized insurance company. The cross- validated correlations between biodata score and length of tenure were .58 for minorities and .56 for nonminorities.1 Drakeley et al. (1988) compared biodata and cognitive ability tests as predictors of training success. Biodata scores possessed the same predictive validity as the cognitive tests. Furthermore, when added to the regression equation, the biodata information improved the predictive accuracy of the cognitive tests. In an extensive research survey, Reilly and Chao (1982) compared eight selection procedures as to validity and adverse impact on minorities.
The procedures were biodata, peer evaluation, interviews, self-assessments, reference checks, academic achievement, expert judgment, and projective techniques. Noting that properly standardized ability tests provide the fairest and most valid selection procedure, Reilly and Chao (1982) concluded that only biodata and peer evaluations had validities substantially equal to those of standardized tests. For example, in the prediction of sales productivity, the average validity coefficient of biodata was a very healthy .62. Certain cautions need to be mentioned with respect to biodata approaches in personnel selection. Employers may be prohibited by law from asking questions about age, race, sex, religion, and other personal issues—even when such biodata can be shown empirically to predict job performance. Also, even though the incidence of faking is very low, there is no doubt that shrewd respondents can falsify results in a favorable direction. For example, Schmitt and Kunce (2002) addressed the concern that some examinees might distort their answers to
biodata items in a socially desirable direction. These researchers compared the scores obtained when examinees were asked to elaborate their biodata responses versus when they were not. Requiring elaborated answers reduced the scores on biodata items; that is, it appears that respondents were more truthful when asked to provide corroborating details to their written responses. Recently, Levashina, Morgeson, and Campion (2012) proved the same point in a large scale, high-stakes selection project with 16,304 applicants for employment. Biodata constituted a significant portion of the selection procedure. The researchers used the response elaboration technique (RET), which obliges job applicants to provide written elaborations of their responses. Perhaps an example will help. A naked, unadorned biodata question might ask: • How many times in the last 12 months did
you develop novel solutions to a work problem in your area of responsibility?
Most likely, a higher number would indicate greater creativity and empirically predict
superior work productivity. The score on this item would be combined with others to produce an overall biodata score used in personnel selection. But notice that nothing prevents the respondent from exaggeration or outright lying. Now, consider the original question with the addition of response elaboration: • How many times in the last 12 months did
you develop novel solutions to a work problem in your area of responsibility?
• For each circumstance, please provide specific details as to the problem and your solution.
Levashina et al. (2012) found that using the RET technique produced more honest and realistic biodata scores. Further, for those items possessing the potential for external verification, responses were even more realistic. The researchers conclude that RET decreases faking because it increases accountability. As with any measurement instrument, biodata items will need periodic restandardization. Finally, a potential drawback to the biodata approach is that, by its nature, this method
captures the organizational status quo and might, therefore, squelch innovation. Becker and Colquitt (1992) discuss precautions in the development of biodata forms. The use of biodata in personnel selection appears to be on the rise. Some corporations rely on biodata almost to the exclusion of other approaches in screening applicants. The software giant Google is a case in point. In years past, the company used traditional methods such as hiring candidates from top schools who earned the best grades. But that tactic now is used rarely in industry. Instead, many corporations like Google are moving toward automated systems that collect biodata from the many thousands of applicants processed each year. Using online surveys, these companies ask applicants to provide personal details about accomplishments, attitudes, and behaviors as far back as high school. Questions can be quite detailed, such as whether the applicant has ever published a book, received a patent, or started a club. Formulas are then used to compute a score from 0 to 100, designed to predict the degree to
fit with corporate culture (Ottinger & Kurzon, 2007). The system works well for Google, which claims to have only a 4 percent turnover rate. There is little doubt, then, that purely objective biodata information can predict aspects of job performance with fair accuracy. However, employers are perhaps more likely to rely upon subjective information such as interview impressions when making decisions about hiring. We turn now to research on the validity of the employment interview in the selection process. 1The curious reader may wish to know which 10 biodata items could possess such predictive power. The items were age, marital status, children’s age, education, tenure on previous job, previous salary, friend or relative in company, location of residence, home ownership, and length of time at present address. Unfortunately, Cascio (1976) does not reveal the relative weights or direction of scoring for the items.
11.3 THE EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW The employment interview is usually only one part of the evaluation process, but many
administrators regard it as the vital make-or- break component of hiring. It is not unusual for companies to interview from 5 to 20 individuals for each person hired! Considering the importance of the interview and its huge costs to industry and the professions, it is not surprising to learn that thousands of studies address the reliability and validity of the interview. We can only highlight a few trends here; more detailed reviews can be found in Conway, Jako, and Goodman (1995), Huffcutt (2007), Guion (1998), and Schmidt and Zimmerman (2004). Early studies of interview reliability were quite sobering. In various studies and reviews, reliability was typically assessed by correlating evaluations of different interviewers who had access to the same job candidates (Wagner, 1949; Ulrich & Trumbo, 1965). The interrater reliability from dozens of these early studies was typically in the mid-.50s, much too low to provide accurate assessments of job candidates. This research also revealed that interviewers were prone to halo bias and other distorting influences upon their perceptions of candidates.
Halo bias—discussed in the next topic—is the tendency to rate a candidate high or low on all dimensions because of a global impression. Later, researchers discovered that interview reliability could be increased substantially if the interview was jointly conducted by a panel instead of a single interviewer (Landy, 1996). In addition, structured interviews in which each candidate was asked the same questions by each interviewer also proved to be much more reliable than unstructured interviews (Borman, Hanson, & Hedge, 1997; Campion, Pursell, & Brown, 1988). In these studies, reliabilities in the .70s and higher were found. Research on validity of the interview has followed the same evolutionary course noted for reliability: Early research that examined unstructured interviews was quite pessimistic, while later research using structured approaches produced more promising findings. In these studies, interview validity was typically assessed by correlating interview judgments with some measure of on-the-job performance. Early studies of interview validity yielded
almost uniformly dismal results, with typical validity coefficients hovering in the mid-.20s (Arvey & Campion, 1982). Mindful that interviews are seldom used in isolation, early researchers also investigated incremental validity, which is the potential increase in validity when the interview is used in conjunction with other information. These studies were predicated on the optimistic assumption that the interview would contribute positively to candidate evaluation when used alongside objective test scores and background data. Unfortunately, the initial findings were almost entirely unsupportive (Landy, 1996). In some instances, attempts to prove incremental validity of the interview demonstrated just the opposite, what might be called decremental validity. For example, Kelly and Fiske (1951) established that interview information actually decreased the validity of graduate student evaluations. In this early and classic study, the task was to predict the academic performance of more than 500 graduate students in psychology. Various
combinations of credentials (a form of biodata), objective test scores, and interview were used as the basis for clinical predictions of academic performance. The validity coefficients are reported in Table 11.2. The reader will notice that credentials alone provided a much better basis for prediction than credentials plus a one- hour interview. The best predictions were based upon credentials and objective test scores; adding a two-hour interview to this information actually decreased the accuracy of predictions. These findings highlighted the superiority of actuarial prediction (based on empirically derived formulas) over clinical prediction (based on subjective impressions). We pursue the actuarial versus clinical debate in the last chapter of this text. Studies using carefully structured interviews, including situational interviews, provide a more positive picture of interview validity (Borman, Hanson, & Hedge, 1997; Maurer & Fay, 1988; Schmitt & Robertson, 1990). When the findings are corrected for restriction of range and unreliability of job performance ratings, the
mean validity coefficient for structured interviews turns out to be an impressive .63 (Wiesner & Cronshaw, 1988). A meta-analysis by Conway, Jako, and Goodman (1995) concluded that the upper limit for the validity coefficient of structured interviews was .67, whereas for unstructured interviews the validity coefficient was only .34. Additional reasons for preferring structured interviews include their legal defensibility in the event of litigation (Williamson, Campion, Malo, and others, 1997) and, surprisingly, their minimal bias across different racial groups of applicants (Huffcutt & Roth, 1998). TABLE 11.2 Validity Coefficients for Ratings Based on Various Combinations of Information Basis for Rating Correlation with Credentials alone 0.26 Credentials and one-hour interview
0.13 Credentials and objective test scores
0.36 Credentials, test scores, and two-hour interview
Source: Based on data in Kelly, E. L., & Fiske, D. W. (1951). The prediction of performance in clinical psychology. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. In order to reach acceptable levels of reliability and validity, structured interviews must be designed with painstaking care. Consider the protocol used by Motowidlo et al. (1992) in their research on structured interviews for management and marketing positions in eight telecommunications companies. Their interview format was based upon a careful analysis of critical incidents in marketing and management. Prospective employees were asked a set of standard questions about how they had handled past situations similar to these critical incidents. Interviewers were trained to ask discretionary probing questions for details about how the applicants handled these situations. Throughout, the interviewers took copious notes. Applicants were then rated on scales anchored with behavioral illustrations. Finally, these ratings were combined to yield a total interview score used in selection decisions.
In summary, under carefully designed conditions, the interview can provide a reliable and valid basis for personnel selection. However, as noted by Schmitt and Robertson (1990), the prerequisite conditions for interview validity are not always available. Guion (1998) has expressed the same point: A large body of research on interviewing has, in
my opinion, given too little practical information about how to structure an interview, how to conduct it, and how to use it as an assess
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