Workplace Are Job Knowledge Tests, Cognitive Ability Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Psychology Type: Essay Paper: #84569419 Related Topics: Test, Personality Test, Personality Tests, Workplace Ethics
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … workplace are job knowledge tests, cognitive ability tests, and personality tests.

Job Knowledge Tests

Achievement tests or job knowledge tests are composed of questions designed to measure technical or professional expertise in a specific area of knowledge. Therefore job knowledge tests assess the knowledge of the test taker at the point in time of the assessment. Job knowledge tests are most often utilized in conditions that require applicants to possess a specific set or type of information prior to being hired (Dye, Reck, & McDaniel, 1993). Job knowledge tests are useful for positions that require some type of specialized skill or technical knowledge. Typically this type of skill or knowledge has been acquired over a long period. Given this, job knowledge tests are not appropriate to use when the applicants will are going to be trained in the areas tested following their selection. The most common format of job knowledge tests is multiple choice; however, essay and fill in the blank formats are also used (Sapitula & Shartzer, 2001). For example, licensing exams or professional certification programs are examples of job knowledge tests as are tests used to screen applicants prior to employment or transfer.

Job knowledge tests have been shown to provide valid inferences for many types of organizational outcomes such as performance on the job, unlike an interviewer these tests will not be influenced by impression management or dishonest responses, can reduce costs by identifying people with the skills and abilities need for hiring or promotion, are less likely to produce different results based on gender or ethnic factors, and are often viewed in a more positive light prospective employees (Roth, Huffcutt, & Bobko, 2003). On the other hand these types of tests often require frequent updating and revising to keep their content current, due to the need to update they can be costly and depending on their content can be costly to develop or purchase, and are not appropriate in situations where specialized knowledge can be acquired with short training (Dye, Reck, & McDaniel, 1993).

Cognitive Ability Tests

Cognitive ability tests measure abilities involved in thinking such as reasoning, memory, verbal ability, mathematical ability, and other mental abilities. These tests are designed to ask questions that assess the aptitude to acquire new knowledge or to solve work-related problems. Not all cognitive tests measure the trait of intelligence (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). Even an intelligence test will often include items that measure specific mental abilities such as arithmetic computations, number series completion, and spatial relations. The major tests of cognitive abilities are well-standardized and contain items that are reliably scored. Some can be administered to groups of people. The item formats of these tests can be multiple choice, short answer, or sentence completion. Many professional cognitive tests are available commercially and are appropriate when there is not a need to develop a test that for a specific job. Have been demonstrated to produce valid inferences for a number of organizational outcomes such as job performance or success in training (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004).

Cognitive tests have been shown to be predictive of job performance especially in the case of complex jobs, can be very cost-effective, can be administered by means of computer or paper and pencil to groups, unlike interviews will not be influenced by impression management or faked or dishonest responses, may reduce costs by identifying individuals for hiring, promotion, or training who possess required skills and abilities (Murphy, Cronin, & Tam, 2003). necessitate On the other hand these tests can be very time-consuming to develop, expensive if purchased off the shelf, and produce different results by ethnicity or gender (Murphy, Cronin, & Tam, 2003).

Personality Tests

These tests typically measure traits. Some of the more common personality traits measures in organizational settings are extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, optimism, agreeableness, stress tolerance, service orientation, initiative and emotional stability (Anastasi...


These tests are concerned with traits that are productive behaviors related to work and one's specific type of interpersonal interactions. As such personality tests are often used to determine whether the person has potential to be successful in jobs where one's job performance necessitates a lot of interactions with other individuals such as work in team settings or in certain departments that must work together. Personality tests have been shown to yield valid inferences regarding several different organizational outcomes such as identifying individuals for hiring, promotion or training, typically personality tests do not discriminate due to ethnic or gender issues, and they can be administered either by paper and pencil or computers and are cost effective (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997). However, they may have low face validity, may lead to impression management by the test takers (several tests have validity scales to correct for this), and can lead to ethical issues if used for selection or promotion, if results are not kept confidential, or are more clinically rather than industrially based (Arendasy et al. 2011).

Reliability and Validity Issues

There are several issues surrounding the use of reliability and validity in psychological testing. First issues of reliability have to do with consistency. Internal consistency of a test measures how well the test items "hang together." For instance, items in a test or tests that measure the same construct should be related to one another. This relation or correlation is most often measured by Cronbach's alpha. Acceptable alpha levels are .7 and above; however, very high values over .95 may indicate redundancy. Test-retest reliability measures how well tests relate over time, the same test should be correlated over time (unless they measure abilities that are expected to change over time). Finally inter-rater reliability measures the extent that the test produces the same results when administered by different testers. Depending on the scale of the test there are several methods to measure this (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994).

Reliability measures consistency issues and therefore sets the limit on the validity of the test, or the limit on the test's ability to actively measure the construct(s) it purports to measure. This is true because a test that cannot reliability relate with itself cannot relate with anything else. Types of validity important here are (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994): (1). Construct validity, the test's ability to measure the theoretical entity what it purports to measure. (2). Criterion validity, how well the test predicts a real world behavior. This can be concurrent, how the test predicts a current job-related behavior, or predictive, how it predicts a future behavior. (3). Content validity, the extent to which the test measures the full domain of abilities it purports to measure. (4). Face validity, the extent to which the test looks like it measures what it is designed to measure (important in tests of job knowledge).

Ethical Issues

Test construction is now specialized and there are numerous available tests, but the research on the interpretation of test scores remains Three important issues concerning ethics and psychological testing in the workplace include the invasion of personal privacy, the need for organizations to honor confidentiality, and the communication of test results. First, tests such as personality and cognitive ability tests reveal certain data to supervisors, managers, etc. which are private in nature and often not applicable to performance on the job. Related to this is the fact that organizations may often allow unqualified individuals to view this sensitive data. Finally, it is extremely important for organizations to explain the test findings to those who took them. Related to these issues are claims that many tests are inadequate, or their limitations not understood by organizational personal and their results are therefore often misused as in the use of personality tests for hiring purposes (Anastasi, 1967). In addition, there have been claims that certain tests as biased against culturally disadvantaged groups (Anastasi, 1967). Therefore ethically, tests should only be…

Sources Used in Documents:


American Psychological Association. (2011). Rights and responsibilities of test takers:

guidelines and expectations. In, American Psychological Association (APA). Retrieved November, 29, 2011, from

Anastasi, A. (1967). Psychology, psychologists, and psychological testing. American Psychologist, 22(4), 297-306.

Anastasi, A. & Urbina, S. (1997). Psychological testing (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River:

Cite this Document:

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