Industrial and Organizational Psychology Individual Psychological Testing Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Individual Psychological Testing in the Workplace



Faced with an ever increasing competitive business environment, many employers are turning to employment testing as a way to improve their workforces. Every organization wants to ensure that they hire the right person. Job applicants may submit an effective resume and perform well during an interview, but they usually highlight only positive attributes. Psychological testing has been identified as one way of ensuring that the business picks an applicant who is a perfect fit for the position and actually can do the work required. Physiological tests have been validated by experts as a very good indicator of an applicant's working style. Testing potential employees can increase the chances that a company chooses the right person for a job, reduce turnover and their by lower training costs.

Specific Psychological Testing used in the Workplace

Personality Tests:

Personality tests are self-report measures of what might be called traits, temperaments, or dispositions. Personality tests such as "Big Five" measure dimensions of extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness. Questions within the test are also designed to test for propensity, aggression or hostility, which are viewed as negative factors in the workplace. Understanding a candidate's innate predispositions and tendencies can be highly valuable in determining appropriate candidates for specific jobs. For example, in a position that requires sales and constant communication with people, finding someone who leaned toward extroversion might be more accommodating for the organization's goals (Spector, 2008). For a forest ranger, the traits of emotional stability and openness to experience may positively affect job performance.

Integrity Test:

Integrity tests are designed to predict proneness for theft and other forms of counterproductive work behavior in job applicants. Integrity test also helps predict conscientiousness and dependability in the workplace -- traits that are pre-requisite for many positions. Integrity tests can be customized to meet the needs of the employer because specific attributes are assessed with designated groups of questions. This means that one company can test for honesty and nonviolence by administering those sets of questions, while another might test for drug avoidance and turnover. Other traits that can be evaluated include safety consciousness, work values, customer service, responsiveness to supervision, and overall employability.

Intelligence Aptitude Tests:

Intelligence aptitude tests are considered excellent predictors that reveal a candidates ability to perform in a given situation. Studies demonstrate they are better indicators than interviewing a candidate or considering a candidate's experience or education. These short multiple choice tests measure a candidate's problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities. Many companies administer Harvard University's MiniCog Rapid Assessment Battery (MRAB). This 30-minute test measures a candidate's cognitive aptitude on attention, memory, reasoning and processing information.

Psychological Testing for Pre-employment or Retention:

Although psychological testing is popularly used for pre-employment testing that is during interviews, they may be used during employment as a developmental exercise, or as part of a job performance evaluation (Spector, 2008). Test such as personality test and aptitude test can be used for promotion and advancement along with employee selection. By using these tests an organization can highlight individual employee strengths, weaknesses along with skills and aptitude to change. This can then be used in career development plans made by HR. Through these tests an organization is able to align the goals of the organization to the individual capabilities and skills. For example The Myers-Briggs is a test that reveals basic traits of an individual's personality. Candidates are tested on their rate of introversion and extroversion, whether they are sensing or intuitive among others. This test is often used in the workplace in order to improve team member dynamics. The result of these tests can then be used to specify candidates that would work well in a team project based on matrix team structure. Moreover, employee's manager would now be well aware of employee's sensitivities, traits and talents and their by provide them with tasks that would maximize their potential.

On the other hand integrity test are mostly used for pre-employment testing so that candidate's risk levels for engaging in undesirable activities at work can be acknowledged and high-risk job candidates can be differentiated from low-risk candidates.

Validity and reliability of psychological testing:

No psychological test is ever completely valid or reliable because the human psyche is too complicated to know anything about it with full confidence. This causes uncertainty about a case even after extensive testing. Essentially, a test is valid if it measures what it purports to measure and it is reliable if it is able to consistently produce the same results over time.

In the case of integrity test for example a person could be asked if he is honest, and he would likely say, "Yes." However, the real honesty is discovered under temptation to be dishonest. No psychological test can predict an employee's response in a scenario where hiding a detail of a case could save an employee's career. The real "test" is in the encounter with life itself.

A National Academy of Sciences committee reviewed data from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and concluded it "has not demonstrated adequate validity, and at this time, there is not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs" (Boyle, 1995, p. 5), which is what it is most often used for (Psychometric Success, 2010).

According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Job applicants can easily manipulate employee personality and psychological responses to create positive outcomes. According to BNET, assessment tests that are used to determine a candidate's skill set do not provide test takers the opportunity to make reasonable decisions. Psychological and personality tests tend to be standardized restraining the candidates in the amount of information that they can provide about themselves and their qualifications.

If psychological test were alone used for candidate selection their validity would be extended way beyond reason, and some grave mistakes would be made. Thus it is necessary to consider the profile of a potential candidate in light of other historical information, such as previous job performance, academic performance, and letters of recommendation excreta. If psychological testing is done properly it may very well help an employer find an employee that fits with their organization. Pre-employment testing may also reduce the chance that an employer will hire a poor performer, or a potentially dangerous or even criminally inclined employee.

Ethical issues in psychological testing:

With regard to pre-employment testing the most raised issue is that of invasion of privacy. Many commentators characterize all testing as invasive, claiming that tests contain items about religious beliefs, personal troubles, and sexual practices. At no time should an organization ask questions about disabilities, sexual orientation, sexual practices, with whom one lives, religious beliefs or ethnic background as these are inappropriate although not necessarily illegal (USA Today, 2001). Thus it is held that test questions administered to employees must not be unreasonably intrusive and must be job-related.

On the other hand many tests have also been alleged to be race-specific or gender-specific their by being unethical on the grounds of discrimination. An employer could discriminate directly by asking about a forbidden ground, for example, asking about a person's religious beliefs, during the personality test. Discrimination could also occur indirectly if the test has the effect of screening out or otherwise disadvantaging applicants belonging to a particular group protected by Human Rights legislation.

It must be also be noted that whatever information is generated regarding an employee's personal traits must be kept confidential and should not be made public. Disclosure of information could seriously prejudice an applicant making it difficult to obtain a job elsewhere.

An employer should be frank and open with the applicant clearly conveying the purpose of the test, how the test results…

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