Table of Contents:
- Introduction to Tests
- Types of Tests
- Standards for Selection Tests
- Advantages of Tests
- Disadvantages of Tests
- Purpose of Tests
- Limitations of Tests
- Precautions in Using Selection Tests
Introduction to Tests
A test is a sample of an aspect of an individual’s behaviour, performance, or attitude. It can also be a systematic procedure for comparing the behaviour of two or more individuals.
Tests are also known as psychological tests. These tests are significant tools which are used for the selection procedure. A psychological test is conducted to assess specific skills and capabilities of a worker that are deemed essential for a successful job outcome, as identified through job analysis. A test is a tool designed to evaluate selective psychological elements. The primary reason for conducting the test in the selection procedure is to easily and precisely evaluate the difference between job-related capacities and skills of individuals. As human capabilities are interconnected to each other and complicated; thus, they need to be understood about each other.
According to Wayne F. Cascio, “A psychological test is a standardised measure of behaviour”.
As per Cronbach, “A test is a systematic procedure for comparing the behaviour of two or more persons”.
According to Milton M. Blum, “A test is a sample of an aspect of an individual’s behaviour, performance and attitude”.
Types of Tests
Selection tests can be classified as follows:
1) Aptitude Tests
It is a test designed for evaluating the growth level achieved by an individual on some similar and clearly stated capabilities. These capabilities may include visualisation of dimension numerical ability, or emotional ability. These tests aim at evaluating the capability of an individual or the hidden ability to learn what has been given to him if provided with proper training. These tests are categorised as follows:
i) Intelligence Tests
These tests are made to evaluate various mental tasks like reasoning, comprehension, and judgment. An intelligence test is aimed at getting a basic idea about an individual’s mental ability. In simple words, these tests evaluate the various human behaviours in m effective manner in comparison to any other device. These tests provide professionals with a standard way to compare the performance of an individual with another, who is in the same age group. These ordeals give factual data on cultural and biological differences among people as well.
These measure the overall intellectual ability or the Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) of a person, providing insights into whether they have the mental capacity to deal with new problems. These tests determine an employee’s fluency in language, memory, interaction, reasoning, speed of perception, and spatial visualization.
ii) Mechanical Aptitude Tests
Mechanical aptitude tests are also called mechanical ability tests These tests measure the capability of an individual to solve mechanical problems without using any manuals, or taking external help. These tests are considered by most employers, for example, the Navy, Army, Air Force, and many private organisations. These tests are used by any employer during the phase of job applications, and, doing well on this test means that the candidate is capable of the job he is looking for. Every candidate seeking a new job in the mechanical field, or promotion to a new position, is required to pass this test before he is offered the job.
These measure a person’s capacity to learn a particular type of mechanical work. They are useful when selecting apprentices, machinists, mechanics, maintenance workers, and mechanical technicians.
iii) Psychomotor Tests
Psychomotor tests are considered for evaluating the capability of an individual concerning a particular job. This test also assists in making any decision on mental dexterity and motor ability and likewise, some other qualities, where an individual needs to use his muscular movements, and his control and coordination are involved. These tests are considered for selecting workers for semi-skilled, tedious jobs such as packing, testing, examination, assembling work etc.
These measure a person’s ability to perform a specific job. Administered to determine mental dexterity or motor ability, these tests assess attributes involving muscular movement, control, and coordination. They are primarily used in the selection of workers who perform semi-skilled and repetitive jobs, such as assembly work, packing, testing, inspection, and so on.
iv) Clerical Aptitude Tests
These tests are planned to recognise such candidates win are capable of working actively and perfectly in administrative roles. Any mistake in billing, accounting or shipping information may cause a big loss to the organization. Organisations use this test while hiring people for cashiers, clerical jobs, warehouse bank staff, workers, etc., where high concentration and accuracy are most important. These tests evaluate particular abilities required for official work. This test may contain copying, spelling, computation, word comprehension, measuring etc. These tests are variable due to the variety of job requirements.
2) Achievement Tests
It is a standardised test which evaluates the knowledge level of an individual in a specific field. In contrast to an aptitude test which aims at evaluating an individual’s capability to learn something, this test aims to test the knowledge of an individual concerning a particular topic, or subjects like maths, geography, or science. These tests measure the latent ability of a candidate to learn a new skill or job. Through these tests, one can detect peculiarities or defects in a person’s sensory or intellectual capacity. These tests focus attention on specific types of talent, such as learning, reasoning, and mechanical or musical aptitude. Achievement tests comprise the following types:
i) Job Knowledge Tests
Job knowledge test evaluates an individual’s knowledge level about a specific job. For example, a junior lecturer applies for the post of senior lecturer in the commerce department; he is supposed to take a test of job-related knowledge, where he may be required to answer some accountancy principles, banking laws, business management, etc.
These are known as ‘Trade Tests.’ They are administered to determine knowledge of typing, shorthand, operating calculators, adding machines, dictating and transcribing machines, or simple mechanical equipment. These tests primarily consist of oral questions believed to be satisfactorily answered only by those who know and thoroughly understand the trade or occupation. Oral tests may be supplemented by pictures, written, or performance types.
ii) Work Sample Tests
This test involves assigning a part of actual work to the candidate in the form of a test, and the candidate is required to solve it. For example, if an individual is applying for the vacancy of management lecturer, he may be asked to deliver a lecture on the management information system as a work sample test.
These tests measure the proficiency with which the candidate can handle equipment. This is done by giving the candidate a piece of work to assess how efficiently they can complete it. For example, a typing test would provide the material to be typed and note the time taken and any mistakes committed.
Therefore, the success of an individual in his career is evaluated concerning his knowledge about his job and actual work experience.
3) Situational Tests
Situational tests are prepared to observe a person’s spontaneous reactions in real-life conditions. These tests operate on the assumption of placing individuals in practical situations to observe their responses and understand how they react to specific scenarios. They expose individuals to situations involving frustration, excitement, stress, monotony, or other conditions to showcase their personality traits. However, it’s important to note that these tests can be time-consuming and costly.
These measure an applicant’s reaction when placed in a specific situation, evaluating their ability to undergo stress and demonstrate ingenuity under pressure. These tests often involve a leaderless group situation where problems are posed, and members are asked to reach conclusions without the guidance of a leader.
This test can be categorised into the following types:
i) Group Discussion
Generally, group discussion is used to manage this test by resolving a problem. In a group discussion, candidates are evaluated in several areas like initiating, leading, suggesting meaningful ideas, conciliate skills, oral communication skills, coordinating and concluding skills, etc.
In this type of test, the candidate is provided with actual letters, cell phone and telegraphic messages, reports, and other requirements by the officers of the organisation including proper information regarding the job and the organisation. The candidate is required to determine some of the things based on in-basket information about the requirements revealed in the message.
4) Interest Tests
Interest tests are inventories of all likes and dislikes of the candidates about their work, occupation, hobbies, and other spare time activities. The main objective of this test is to identify the candidate’s interest or disinterest in the job offered to him and to determine the specific areas in which the candidate is showing interest. This test has an assumption that the interest of the candidate in a job is highly correlated with the success of the job. Interest inventories are more true, and generally, do not vary after the age of 30.
These tests aim to discover a person’s areas of interest and identify the kind of work that will satisfy them. They are utilized for vocational guidance and are typically assessed through responses to a well-prepared questionnaire.
- nature of marketing
- difference between questionnaire and schedule
- features of marginal costing
- placement in hrm
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- nature of leadership
- difference between advertising and personal selling
5) Personality Tests
Personality tests examine the individual deeply to get an idea about his value system, emotions, attitude and moods. All of them may be expressed in the form of skill, emotional control, self-confidence, hopefulness certainty, consistency, friendliness, objectivity, tolerance, fear, doubt, initiative, judgement, dominance or submission, reliability, spontaneity and firmness.
These tests reveal clues to an individual’s value system, emotional reactions, maturity, and characteristic mood. They aid in assessing a person’s motivation, ability to adjust to the stresses of everyday life, and capacity for interpersonal relations, as well as projecting an impressive image of oneself. These traits are expressed in terms of their relative significance, including self-confidence, ambition, tact, emotional control, optimism, decisiveness, sociability, conformity, objectivity, patience, fear, distrust, initiative, judgment, dominance, impulsiveness, sympathy, integrity, and stability. Personality tests are administered to predict potential performance and success in supervisory or managerial roles.
This test can be divided into the following types:
i) Objective Tests
These tests generally consist of a pencil and paper questionnaire. It gives the candidates multiple choices or true/false options to answer any question. These tests are prepared into a structural form as the subject has limited choices available to answer any question. This test is aimed at evaluating the mental ability, independence, submission and self-confidence of the candidate. These measure neurotic tendencies, self-sufficiency, dominance, submission, and self-confidence.
ii) Projective Tests
Projective tests provide an unstructured task and ask the candidate to decide by utilising the test stimulus, which may be vague or unclear. For example, The candidate might be required to describe what he/she perceives in a blot of ink on a piece of paper or to create a story based on a card showing a vague picture of people in a specific environment, such as a surgical room.
This test is based on an assumption that the manner of structuring and interpreting the given unclear test stimulus will represent the basic characteristics of an individual’s personality or psychological functioning and thus, it discloses his/her nervousness, needs, and conflicts. Therefore, projective tests indirectly evaluate the personality of individuals.
In these tests, a candidate is asked to project their own interpretation onto certain standard stimuli. Responses depend on the individual’s values, motives, and personality.
Standards for Selection Tests
Standards for selection tests are as follows:
A test must be according to the nature of the group on which it is being implemented. For example, a written test containing difficult words is useless if it is applied to workers who are not literate.
The term “standardization” refers to the stability or uniformity of the rules and procedures for conducting a specific test. In this process, norms to finalise the scores, interpret them, and methods and procedures to conduct the test are required to be established.
3) Qualified People
A test needs highly qualified and expert personnel for the administration of testing procedures. These personnel have perfection in their work, so, a judgement given by them is accurate and unquestionable.
A complex structure of tests may fail to provide quality results. Therefore, a test needs to be prepared efficiently and effectively while also being easy to conduct.
The validity of a test is an important element, as it is the degree to which a test evaluates what it was supposed to evaluate. A selection test is required to be valid because validity provides a logical and legally accepted reason to carry out the test for the screening of job applicants. A test must be valid under a specific situation and for a definite group of people. Therefore, a test is said to be valid when it is capable of measuring the factors, for which it is designed.
It denotes the uniformity of the selection test. Any test is considered reliable only if it consistently produces the same results.
For example, With an unreliable test, an individual may score high at one event and very low on the other, even if both events are closely timed. This consistency is established through the re-examination of candidates with the same test on two or more occasions or by any other method to assess the uniformity of the test scores.
It refers to the financial gains obtained by using a specific selection method. The main objective is to assess the increase in revenue as a function of the selection method after deducting the cost expenditure incurred during the application of a certain method. The utility of a standard level requires low selection ratios. Thus, it is related to the capability of an organisation to attract a large number of talented and qualified applicants for every vacant position.
Advantages of Tests
The advantages of various selection tests are as follows:
1) Reliable Tool: Selection tests are considered trustworthy and unbiased tools to evaluate and select the best candidate for a vacant position. Selection tests are always free from personal biasness and discrimination in comparison to other techniques used for selection purposes, such as interview.
2) Ideal for Large Groups: The selection test has an advantage over other tests as it can be conducted for a large number of applicants at the same time. A selection test is the only technique to save the time and cost of the organisation at the time of choosing candidates from a large pool.
3) Predictor of Intangible Talents: Selection tests are a useful tool to identify the hidden talents and skills of individuals.
4) Goal-Specific and Target-Oriented: To evaluate a particular characteristic of the individual, various selection tests are used by the organisations. For example, achievement tests can be used to discover the existing performance of the applicants, on the other hand, aptitude tests are considered for evaluating the prospective performance.
5) Record for Future: Selection tests act as a record-keeping tool for the organisation, which can be kept for future references and investigations. Analysing the consequences of selection tests may result in the formation of some guidelines for additional improvement in the content and administration of the test. It is easier to assess the effectiveness of a test by identifying the disparity between the actual performance and the test performance of the candidates.
Disadvantages of Tests
Though selection tests have several advantages, they suffer from a few disadvantages, which are as follows:
1) Inappropriate for Smaller Groups: Selection tests are not very effective from the aspect of cost to choose the best candidate if the applicant pool is small. It needs plenty of time and money to prepare a selection test and check whether it is reliable and valid or not.
2) Cannot always Predict Work Performance: They are not always capable of making a cent-percent forecast about the on-the-job success of an individual. Partially, they can identify individuals who have scored above the cut-off point and are more likely to be successful, as opposed to those who scored below the cut-off point.
3) Can be Used only as a Supplement: Tests can only be used as a supplement rather than an alternative for other methods of selection such as application forms and interviews.
4) Lack of Flexibility: Selection tests are pre-planned and they cannot be modified frequently to complement the changing situation. In addition, since it is an impersonal technique, it may fail to notice the significant individual differences which are essential for job performance.
5) Criticised for Discrimination: Tests and their users are often criticized for discriminating against underprivileged classes. Trials are also viewed as a threat to privacy. At times, such disapproval hinders organizations from recognizing the positive aspects of testing.
Purpose of Tests
The basic assumption underlying the use of tests in personnel selection is that individuals differ in their job-related abilities and skills, and these skills can be adequately and accurately measured. Tests aim to eliminate the possibility of prejudice on the part of the interviewer or supervisor, ensuring that potential ability governs selection decisions. Another significant advantage is that tests may uncover qualifications and talents that would not be detected by interviews or a listing of education and job experience.
Limitations of Selection Tests
From the basic description of tests provided above, one should not conclude that a hundred per cent prediction of an individual’s on-the-job success can be made through these tests. At best, these tests reveal that candidates who score above predetermined cut-off points are likely to be more successful than those who score below the cut-off point.
Tests are particularly useful when dealing with a large number of applicants. Additionally, tests serve no useful purpose if they are not properly constructed, selected, or administered.
Precautions in Using Selection Tests
Test results can aid in selecting the best candidates if the following precautions are taken:
i) Norms should be developed as a reference source for all tests used in selection and on a representative sample of people in a given job within the same organization. This is necessary even though ‘standard’ tests are now available under each of the above categories. Norms developed elsewhere should not be blindly used because companies differ in their requirements, culture, organizational structure, and philosophy.
ii) Some ‘warm-up’ should be provided to candidates either by giving samples of the test and/or answering queries before the test begins.
iii) Tests should first be validated for a given organization and then administered for personnel selection within the organization.
iv) Each test used should be assigned a weightage in the selection process.
v) Test scoring, administration, and interpretation should be conducted by individuals with technical competence and training in testing.