Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: The shaky ground of psychometric testing

154 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 7 Newer→ Last

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Even if the tests were consistent, there is no evidence I've ever seen that they correlate with actual, real world behaviours.

    It's well known that you can make statistical clusters from any random variable you want: skin wrinkles, head shape, starsign, whatever. Mix that up with a bit of confirmation bias, and you're good to go.

    The fact that the tests are regarded as useful by right-wing political activists says more about their judgement than the efficacy of the tests, truly.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I've been subjected to psychometric testing only once (when I first applied for a job at TVNZ, I was offered that job and actually turned it down) - while I tried to be honest in answering it, it was clear that some questions really required certain answers.

    It's not unlike the "are you are terrorist" question on arrivals documents for the USA - obviously no terrorist will answer that question honestly. Similarly, no slack and underskilled potential employee will honestly answer questions that are clearly intended to get that information from them.

    It's even more baffling that such tests would be used in a redundancy situation when the company should clearly have plenty of information about the employees in question - how they fit into a team and how they work.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It’s even more baffling that such tests would be used in a redundancy situation when the company should clearly have plenty of information about the employees in question – how they fit into a team and how they work.

    Well, you'd think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Perhaps I'm an old crank, but I've had psych assessments conducted by mental health professionals in a clinically appropriate setting. With all due respect to Mr Farrar, they were "accurate and helpful"; HR department voodoo, not so much.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    psych assessments

    'psych' does not necessarily mean psychometric. There are certainly a large number of psychological tools that have some validity (although as with everything, at the margins there can be problems).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Kate Hannah,

    I've had my first experiences with these this year as part of the leadership course I'm on. The binarism seems to be the critical point of ridiculousness - I recall one question that asked if I am "casual " or "professional" in my presentation - anyone who's met me will know that I'm not casual but neither do I wear suits. Don't really need to at a university. I found this question very hard to answer and in the end ticked professional. But this doesn't sum me up. People are more complex than an either/or, and organisations differ (universities are fairly unique workplaces).

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I'm not sure how useful my response to "I hate opera singing" would be, unless Kiri Te Kanawa's looking for a new rehearsal pianist. In which case, anyone who put me on the interview list for that one desperately needs to be sectioned.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I've been subjected to psychometric testing only once (when I first applied for a job at TVNZ

    The only one of these that I've done was when I was employed at TVNZ, applying for another job within it. Because I'm rool smart, I knew what kind of personality the job would suit and tailored my answers to match. I got the job.

    And in the '80s when my dad worked for Telecom, he was given a psychometric test to do. He thought it was bunk so he got me to do it (I was about 13). The testing people could tell something was up but couldn't pick that the answers were those of a teenage girl.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    the company should clearly have plenty of information about the employees in question

    You'd have thought. A logical way for an organisation to proceed when income falls and it can't afford current staff costs would be to look at which employees are giving the least value for money and get rid of them.

    This is, however considered illegal/unethical/wrong in the modern world. (I believe that the complementary approach of crossing the dismissed staff's palms with money to leave quietly, ideally to a competitor, is also anathema, at least in any publicly funded body).

    So you have a bunch of bullshit around positions, rather than people, being made redundant and then staff reapplying for them - resulting in a company full of people who give good interview.

    [This may be part of the reason a small NZ SOE collapsed recently]

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I work in the same industry as Gilbert, and I've seen this trend towards more quantifiable testing in action. When I first applied for a call centre role back in the early 2000s, I was required to complete what was, effectively, a reasonably well- administered IQ test by the recruitment company. The results were never disclosed to me, and almost everyone in my testing group was offered a job, so I doubt the test itself was seen as critical, but what I found worrying was that the test results were apparently kept in my HR file and were available to be viewed by whoever my team leader was that week.

    After I moved to a different company within the same industry, personality-typing tests became more common. They were generally administered in a completely unprofessional manner (emailed questions, answers typed into an Excel spreadsheet and interpreted by people with no training beyond a couple of PowerPoint slides.) Employees tended to answer these based on what they thought they were expected to say, and the tests themselves weren't sophisticated enough to account for this behaviour. The results were usually ignored except as ticks in a box for management to show how "sophisticated" their management style was.

    Interestingly, I got the impression that the dreaded "employee engagement surveys" filled a similar role: less about good management than about quantifying things that generally didn't need to be quantified.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Psychometric testing seems to be being used by managers to avoid doing their own job. There are very good managers out there, but they are good because they communicate with and know their staff. There are also crap shysters wearing suits who use tests like this to pretend they've done their job as a manager.

    Where they can be useful however is as a tool to look at yourself. The very fact that you know your answer to a given question could change depending on circumstance tells you something about yourself. You can use them to identify issues where you are naturally comfortable or uncomfortable, not whether you are good at such tasks, because you can easily be good at something you are uncomfortable with given sufficient effort and bad at something with which you are comfortable.

    But it is so easy to game the test, even when they use multiple related questions to "detect deceptive answers". Why any manager worth her salt would rely on such a test is beyond me.

    Perhaps their greatest value is in identifying managers who should be made redundent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    A logical way for an organisation to proceed when income falls and it can't afford current staff costs would be to look at which employees are giving the least value for money and get rid of them.

    Speaking from experience: it isn't always easy to do this. Many companies that you would expect to have robust internal quantitative reporting on productivity don't, both because of the limited statistical knowledge of many managers, and because making these kinds of numbers available is often seen as painting a target on yourself and your staff if none of your peers within the business start producing their own quantitative analysis. ("Oh, you've experienced a 3% drop in productivity this month? Well no other departments have reported anything like that, so start looking for 'efficiencies'.")

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    He did decide that Gilbert had been “dismissed injustifiably” and ordered reinstatement and compemsation.

    “injustifiably”?

    “compemsation”?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 205 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Perhaps their greatest value is in identifying managers who should be made redundent.

    Bravo

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19699 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Many NZ organisations do not actually know who creates value for them. Accordingly they get rid of the 'unimportant' people who quietly raise everyone else's performance, glue the place together, and get on with their job in a non-chest-beating fashion.

    Investing in - and insisting on - better managers would not only help our economy but reduce the social and personal damage that dunces with power cause.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19699 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    “injustifiably”?

    “compemsation”?

    Thank you for your crowdsourced proofreading services.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    My response on the DomPost article:

    They might as well be asking, "have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    True story: a team I belonged to, which had rock bottom morale after a series of restructurings, made the mistake of answering honestly on an engagement survey where we were asked for our opinion on the performance of the executive team. When our supposedly "anonymous" results were received, we were all bundled into a stuffy meeting room and subjected to a two hour PowerPoint presentation about how great the CEO and each of the members of the leadership team actually were. We were then "asked" to resubmit our answers to the survey.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    but what I found worrying was that the test results were apparently kept in my HR file and were available to be viewed by whoever my team leader was that week

    I had not thought of this before. Can people legally require the holder to disclose their own HR file? Because if a low-level manager may have access to it, surely the person themselves should be able to see it.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    essentially to relieve those managers of the burden of managing.

    And yet those managers will still demand top dollar for the job they're not doing...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1713 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    I'm fully inspired by this thrust to streamline business decision making and get it out of the hands of the room meat. I intend to develop my own weapons-grade psychometric booby traps that I can summon to destroy all those who displease me. Once l have purged every Queen-loving, gluten intolerant golf enthusiast from my immediate vicinity there will be nothing to hold me back.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    This is more evidence for my Grand Unifying Theory of HR, which is that it is the devil's work and should be flung into a fiery abyss.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I got knocked back on an application for a job for which I was eminently qualified, and had got on splendidly with the manager during interview, on the basis that my psychometric testing suggested I wouldn't fit well with his management style. I loathe psychometric testing as a consequence. If I could refuse to participate in such voodoo without being unemployable, I would. Thankfully I'm employed at present (recruitment process for which included a lengthy psychometric test) so it will be a while before I need to engage with the nonsense again, but the dubious decisions made with its support are, well, dubious.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Danielle,

    This is more evidence for my Grand Unifying Theory of HR, which is that it is the devil’s work and should be flung into a fiery abyss.

    Tru tru. Ever since Personnel became Human Resources they have aquired a sense of importance which doesn't match reality.

    I've done a few of these tests myself and it's just complete bollocks. Personnel may as well engage the services of a good astrologer.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Sounds like they subscribed to "zee floggings vill continue until morale improves" school of management.

    I can't claim to know much about psychometric testing, but my dealings with psychologists lead me to believe that

    a) Issues of reliability and validity are crucial but are easily overlooked by naive users of psychological methodologies, and;

    b) Many of their models suffer from low R-squared values, which should make anyone skeptical of their predictive value on an individual basis.

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 7 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.