Among many providers of psychological testing methods, recruiters are spoilt for choice. However, not all methods meet scientific requirements – some tests lead to inaccurate measurements and cannot reliably predict the professional success of a person. The checklist shows you what you need to pay attention to when selecting psychological test methods.
1 The basic requirement: You have access to information about the test procedure.
A psychological test must be sufficiently documented to be able to assess its quality at all. If there is no or only very sporadic information available on the methodology and quality of the procedure, you can assume that the offer does not meet the scientific criteria of a psychological test procedure. In some cases, the information provided comes from the provider’s marketing department and is intended simply to promote the test instead of disclosing psychometric criteria. For scientific testing, data on at least the following points should be available as information.
(2) The test shall identify clearly defined scientifically defined characteristics.
What does a test procedure measure anyway? In practice it happens that personnel selection procedures are adapted to market interests in order to make the tests and their results more attractive and/or easier to grasp. In doing so, however, they lose their scientific claim. Examples of this are test procedures with which people are classified into constructed typologies. To do this, they must fulfil certain characteristics that the provider has defined for this typology. According to this understanding, a “doer type” could, for example, be someone who achieves a high score in Extraversion, Emotional Stability and Assertiveness. In the end, a recruiter identified five “doer types” according to the procedure. Nevertheless, he knows little about the individuals and their actual abilities and cannot differentiate between them according to requirements.
If psychological constructs are measured mixed together and tied up to an overall factor, the concrete influencing factor for the result is no longer recognizable.
After all, as a recruiter you do not receive a statement about a clearly defined psychological construct, but only practical assumptions. Accordingly, it is difficult for such a test procedure to make scientifically verifiable statements about a person – it is usually less reliable and valid due to the lack of clarity alone.
Scientific test procedures measure individual abilities and characteristics that are defined for the occupation of a specific target position and are therefore relevant. HR Diagnostics tests also provide recruiters with an overall result on how applicants scored in the test, but they can also view and compare the individual values for each defined construct – creating a differentiated picture of each applicant, his abilities and personal characteristics.
- the test meets the main quality criteria
If a test procedure has been developed according to scientific criteria, it must meet the main quality criteria of reliability, objectivity and validity. This means that the survey and the results are reliable and independent of external influences and that the procedure actually measures the desired defined characteristics. The main quality criteria and their characteristics are proven in scientific test procedures by statistical indicators such as the reliability coefficient and examined in application-related studies in the field – for example, by checking before use whether its results are related to actual professional performance.
- the test corresponds to the secondary quality criteria
The quality criteria of psychological aptitude diagnostics also include secondary quality criteria that are decisive for a scientifically sound test procedure. The three most important criteria you should pay attention to:
Standardization: Every developed test procedure needs a suitable reference sample for practical use. It represents a comparison group that serves as a reference system for all test participants. Expectable measured values are known for these, on the basis of which all are measured at the same scale. In personnel practice, there is ideally a separate standard for each company, each group of similar occupations or even each individual position that you want to fill.
Usefulness: A test procedure should bring real benefits, for example by proving current scientific findings and, above all, be suitable for answering the question. A test procedure in the personnel context is useful if it is relevant to the profession.