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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 evaluate some sets of skills and capabilities of a worker which are supposed to be there for a successful job outcome as per the 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”.
According to 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 judgement. 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 tests give factual data on cultural and biological differences among people as well.
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.
iii) Psychomotor Tests
Psychomotor tests are considered for evaluating the capability of an individual concerning a particular job. This test also assists in taking 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.
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 organisation. Organisations use this test while hiring people for clerical jobs, cashiers, warehouse workers, bank staff, etc., where high concentration and accuracy are most important. These tests evaluate particular abilities required for official work This test may contain spelling, copying, computation, word measuring, comprehension, 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. Achievement tests consist of the following types of tests:
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 require answering some accountancy principles, banking laws, business management, etc.
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 for delivering a lecture on the management information system as a work sample test.
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 designed so that a person’s spontaneous reaction can be observed in real-life conditions. These tests have the assumption of locating people in a practical situation and observing their reactions to learn how people respond to that particular situation. These tests expose people to frustration, excitement, stress, monotony, or some other situations to exhibit their personality traits. These tests are time-consuming and costly. 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 decide upon the area 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.
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 self-confidence, skill, emotional control, hopefulness certainty, friendliness, consistency, objectivity, tolerance, fear, doubt, initiative, judgement, dominance or submission, spontaneity, reliability, and firmness.
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 is having limited choices available to answer any question. This test is aimed at evaluating the mental ability, independence, submission and self-confidence of the candidate.
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 answer what he/she is perceiving in a blot of ink on a piece of paper or to create a story from a card showing a hazy picture of some people who are in a particular 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 needs, nervousness, and conflicts. Therefore, projective tests indirectly evaluate the personality of individuals.
Standards for Selection Tests
Standards for selection tests are as follows:
1) Suitability: 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 much literate.
2) Standardisation: The term standardisation refers to the stability or uniformity of the rules and procedures for conducting a certain 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. This personnel have perfection in their work, so, a judgement given by them is accurate and unquestionable.
4) Preparation: A complex structure of tests may fail to provide quality results. Therefore, a test needs to be prepared very efficiently and effectively, and at the same time, it should be easy to conduct.
5) Validity: 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.
6) Reliability: It denotes the uniformity of the selection test. Any test is said to be reliable only if it is consistently producing 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 mutually close in time. This uniformity is developed with the help of re-examination of candidates with the same test on two or more events, or by any other method to evaluate the uniformity of the test score.
7) Utility: 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. A standard level of utility needs 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 interviews.
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 talent 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 outcomes of selection tests may result in the formation of some guidelines for additional improvement in the content and administration of the test. It becomes easier to draw out the effectiveness of a test by finding the gap between the actual and the test performance of the candidates.
Disadvantages of Tests
Though selection tests have several advantages, they suffer from a few disadvantages also, 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 valid and reliable or not.
2) Cannot always Predict Work Performance: Selection tests are not always capable of making a cent per cent forecast about the on-the-job success of an individual. Partly, they can disclose the scorers above the cut-off point who will be more successful, rather than 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 tests 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: At many times, tests and their users are criticised for discrimination against the underprivileged classes. Tests are also considered a threat to privacy. Sometimes, such disapprovals restrict organisations from looking towards the positive aspects of testing.