In previous newsletters, we discussed the principles of reliability, validity, and standardisation. To recap, reliability is the extent to which an assessment tool is free from error, while validity is the extent to which a tool measures what it intends to. Standardisation gives us information on how the results of an assessment should be interpreted; it is also an agreement about the assessment administration process. This newsletter concludes the series of the four fundamental principles to consider when using psychometric assessments and will focus on fairness.
Fairness is generally accepted as a social construct, not a psychometric property (Taylor, 2020). Fairness, thus, in the context of psychometry, focus on the selection process followed and decisions made.
The Employment Equity Act explicitly requires the application of the fairness principle throughout the selection process. Not only is it prohibited to use poor quality psychometric assessments in any organisational process, but it is also unethical and can lead to unfairness. The credibility of the organisation also benefits when applicants perceive the process to be fair. In addition, having a fair selection process improves the likelihood of a diverse workforce.
During selection the following is critical:
- A fair process
- Candidate experience
- Impartial decision making
- Designing a fair process – The first step in a selection process is understanding what knowledge, skills, behaviours, and abilities are required for a candidate to be successful in the position. It is important to regularly determine to what extent your existing selection process contributes to predicting success in the role. Once you know which constructs you would like to assess, discuss this with the Psychometrist. The Psychometrist will decide on the assessments and techniques that best measure those constructs. By focusing on the requirements of the position, you can work towards a more objective evaluation of applicants for the role, thereby ensuring a fair process.
- Candidate experience – Research shows that a candidate’s experience can have an impact on how they view the organisation and how they perform once employed. Here are a few guidelines for ensuring a good candidate experience:
- Assessments and information requested of the candidate should be related to the role requirements.
- The questions or information asked of the candidate should be appropriate and legal.
- Explanations for why certain methods are used should be provided.
- The candidate should have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, knowledge, and abilities during the process.
- The candidate should be treated with warmth and respect.
- The candidate should have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion during the process.
- The process should be consistent over time and across methods.
- The candidate should receive timely feedback on their performance during the selection process.
- The candidate should have the opportunity to question decisions.
- Impartial decision making – Impartial or fair decisions are based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of any bias or prejudice. The decision to select someone cannot be based on a single assessment, nor can it be based on assessments alone. The use of reliable and valid psychometric assessments on its own is therefore not sufficient to ensure a fair selection process (Taylor, 2020). The most appropriate method is to use a combination of techniques and assessments that have been shown to be good predictors of work performance. At this point, the integration of all the information gathered during the selection process needs to happen, and the Talent Practitioner or HR person should discuss the integrated finding with the Hiring Manager.
Although fairness is a multifaceted concept, it is not impossible to achieve in the selection process. Take a step back, review current practices and keep the above in mind.
Addressing Fairness in Selection – Dr N Taylor, 2020
Till next month! All the Best,