Psychometric assessment involves assigning scores to individuals so that they represent some characteristic of the individuals. How do Psychometrists know that the scores actually represent the characteristic, especially when it is a construct like intelligence, self-esteem, depression, or working memory capacity? The answer is that they conduct research using the measure to confirm that the scores make sense based on their understanding of the construct being measured. This is an extremely important point. Psychometrists do not simply assume that their measures work. Instead, they collect data to demonstrate that they work.
As an informal example, imagine that you have been dieting for a month. Your clothes seem to be fitting more loosely, and several friends have asked if you have lost weight. If at this point your bathroom scale indicated that you had lost 5kg, this would make sense and you would continue to use the scale. However, if it indicated that you had gained 5kg, you would rightly conclude that it was broken and either fix it or get rid of it. In evaluating a measurement method, Psychometrists consider two general dimensions: Reliability and Validity.
It is a well-known practice to use psychometric testing during the recruitment process to secure the best fit for the role. Typically, psychometric tests will never be used in isolation, rather as one component of a wider, integrated recruitment process.
What is the value of a psychometric test if the data provided is not reliable? Test reliability refers to the degree to which an assessment tool produces stable and consistent results over time. Therefore, the reliability of the psychometric instruments are critical. Especially as the outcome can affect employee selection, retention, and promotion.
Even though reliable measures are used, there are factors that are outside our control.
Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, we would like to share the following factors that could influence candidates’ assessment results:
- Anxiety or depression- i.e. perhaps the candidate’s physical or mental state is less than optimal
- Lack of sleep or fatigue
- Medication effects (chronic or acute)
- Severely impaired attention
- History of trauma
- Family related (death in the family, recent pregnancy or on maternity leave)
- Recent retrenchment or divorce
- Any disabilities (such as visual impairment, hearing loss or physical impairments)
- Digital anxiety/unfamiliarity i.e. s/he is unfamiliar with the testing materials or they have never been assessed previously nor virtually
- Accessibility i.e. quality of Wi-Fi and bandwidth during the assessment
Being aware of the above factors and the potential impact on the assessment process is important to ensure maximum performance and accurate results.
The psychometric assessment will be of most value if the candidate is motivated to do their best, is interested, and engaged. This will be assisted by the candidate understanding the purpose of the assessment and perceiving the psychometrist as professional in their conduct. Prior to scheduling a psychometric assessment please consider the list above and discuss with the psychometrist.
Be assured that we only use measures that comply with the requirements of the HPCSA and South African labour legislation. We also connect with the candidates prior to the virtual assessment to build rapport, confirming they are comfortable with the applications, to answer any questions about the applications beforehand, and to address any additional questions they might have.
Next, we will focus on Validity. For now, stay healthy, and act with compassion.
“Reliability is the precondition for trust.” Wolfgang Schauble
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