Demystifying assessments in your job search: Q&A’
‘Almost all employers these days use assessments to gain a better understanding of candidates applying for a role. But can answering a questionnaire really showcase your abilities? Does it really tell the employer how agile you can be, if you have the potential to lead, or even if your math skills are great?
Nina Muir, Occupational Psychology Consultant at SHL, shared some of the psychology behind such assessments with us during a webinar session couple weeks ago – you can watch the recording here.
As our time for Q&A was limited and we didn’t manage to respond to everyone, Nina was so kind as to provide additional answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Question: What are the current trends when it comes to online assessment methodology? Where do you think the future of the assessments is headed?
Answer: Assessments are continually developing – by utilizing new technology, enhancing candidate experience and building on the predictive ability of them for on the job performance. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality are just a few of the potential developments where assessments will head. The aspect to remember is the balance between experience, relevance, and predictability.
Question: What do the Numerical Reasoning tests actually measure? Why are they timed while most other tests are not?
Answer: Numerical reasoning tests measure the ability to work with numerical data such as the ability to make correct decisions or inferences from complex numerical or statistical information.
Most ability tests are timed as they are measuring how quickly and accurately you can get to the right answer compared to others.
Personality-based assessments are generally not timed as there is no specific right and wrong response to them.
Question: Are the assessments universally applicable across cultures, geographies and specific corporate cultures? Do you incorporate such aspects into the design of your assessments?
Answer: There are specific norm groups (comparison groups) which means that you can either compare an individual’s results to a specific culture, geography, a customized industry group; or it allows you to compare to the general population which includes a variety of all groups.
Question: Could you share some insight about the Situational Judgement Tests. Candidates often mention that all the options given to choose seem to be good, viable choices. Is there anything specific we should focus on while going through the SJTs?
Answer: Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) measure an individual’s preference on effective ways of handling real life situations, specifically looking at their judgement on scenarios they may face in the role they are applying for.
They will have to choose from potential options relating to the scenario presented. These options should all seem like a good choice, if the SJT is built well. This is because there should be no obvious response which would skew the results and no response should be unrealistic or negative – it’s about matching the candidate’s preference to that of the organization. Even though it may seem like all responses are the right one, the organization is looking for the most effective response in relation to their role and how they do things. Just try to be as honest as you can and don’t try to second-guess what they might be looking for. This will be to your benefit in the long run as your way of working should align with your workplace.
Question: With the common selection process consisting of an assessment followed by an interview, what role does the interview play in relation to the assessments? Is it supposed to verify the results of the tests or answer additional questions?
Answer: Interviews add critical information to the recruitment process. It allows employers to gather real-life examples of certain behaviors as well as understanding further motivational areas. Assessments look at the potential of an individual, whereas interviews look at the performance and experience of them. When used in combination you gain a holistic view of the individual.
Question: What affects the results of psychometric assessments the most – work experience, education or natural talents?
Answer: Psychometric assessments measure a variety of things – including aptitude, behaviors, values, personality, motivation. Psychometric assessments will generally be measuring an individual’s natural ability and intrinsic behavioral preferences. Skills-based assessments or job preview tests will generally be measuring something you have learnt which could be through your experience.
Question: From candidate’s point of view, what does the design and composition of an assessment tell me about the position I’m applying for?
Answer: The assessments you are being asked to complete are showing you which aspects are important for success in the role. For example, if you are being asked to take a Numerical Reasoning test, this is suggesting that working with numbers and data is important for you to be able succeed in the role you are applying for.
Question: How are the assessments adjusted for candidates with learning disabilities?
Answer: Most assessments can be adjusted in order to account for learning disabilities with a process referred to as reasonable adjustment to assessment. These may include extra time or larger font, and typically reflect what has been prescribed as an adjustment by a medical professional to you. It is important you flag your reasonable adjustment needs upfront before taking the assessment.
Question: How do you calculate the amount of time given for the Numerical Reasoning Tests or any other timed tests you use in assessments?
Answer: There is a rigorous research and development process which takes place when designing and building tests. They will be piloted on large groups of people to identify the specific amount of time which should be applied to tests to gain maximum effectiveness.
Question: What are in your experience the most commonly evaluated skills or traits that most companies look at while using psychometric assessments?
Answer: This varies dramatically depending on the role, industry, and organization.
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