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  • Subject Code : PSTY4072
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  • Subject Name : Psychology

Psychological Assessment at Work

Introduction to Psychological Assessment at Work

Selecting an executive is an important means of gaining a competitive advantage for any business organization. Most companies use a combination of selection methods to assess and recruit executive candidates. However, the most common process is via interviews and references. The selection process chosen for the selection of an executive plays an integral role in identifying and selecting the right candidate for the job. Hence, one ought to employ a variety of ways to test the competency of the individual on multiple levels in order to assess and examine him/her against various competencies that are crucial to the job profile.

The performance requirements required of a leader as he/she rises to an executive change significantly. Executives are required to interpret and handle a vast array of information and the competencies required to become a lot more diverse due to conflicting agendas; hence, an executive ought to be competent in this regard. Being an executive entails leading a diverse organization and an executive since he/she represents the organization with the relevant industry, ought to have competent technological, financial, and professional knowledge on a myriad of fields and on various levels. The focus of this assessment is to shed some light on the selection process of executives. Here the selection approach, its advantage and limitations will be discussed in detail.

Selection Approach

The techniques employed by human resources for recruitment varies on the basis of the company’s resources and staff. Additionally, the type of technique used for the selection process differs from position to position. Hence, the selection process chosen depends on the particular skills which are required for the position, as well as the kind of attributes and knowledge needed for the individual to have in order to be a good fit for the position and vary out responsibilities effectively. Additionally, the recruitment process for any position, not just for an executive, ought to employ at least more than one technique. Recruitment decisions ought to be well informed and selects should stem from an analysis of the candidate after various methods. Often, companies aim to recruit an executive with the use of two or more methods and techniques in order to assess the range of skills, qualities, and knowledge the candidate has.

Since the profile of an executive is highly demanding and requires the individual to be competent in various domains, the selection process for selecting an executive ought to be a combination of various methods which test and assess the candidate's competencies in various fields and various levels. Hence, a combination of GMA (General Mental Ability) test and structured interviews can be used. A structured interview is a standardized method for evaluating candidates for a job and it involves asking the candidate a set of pre-set questions which aim to focus on the candidate's skills, knowledge, and characteristics which are required for the job (which is the job of an executive in this case) (Corbirtus, 2015). Moreover, asking all candidates the same set of questions and ensuing that one sticks to the standardized method for scoring responses will ensure that all candidates are assessed against the same criteria and it also ensures that selection decisions are based on relevant information to the job and not irrelevant details (Corbirtus, 2015).

Additionally, a position such as an executive can be recruited both internally as well as externally. However, the process of internal selection varies widely from the process of internal selection. When it comes to deciding on an internal or external selection, organization first needs to day out the organizational needs, the requirements from the desired candidate, the position requirements, and lastly, what kind of candidate can participate (Sessa et al, n.d.).

By using a combination of methods of structured interviews and GMA tests, the selection of the executive may take time, however, it will reap the best results. Face-to-face interviews take time which is why preliminary screening and telephonic interview is mandatory before the last round of interview which will be face to face. Candidates can apply online after which suitable candidates will be shortlisted and contacted for further evaluation (Pulakos, 2005). The recruiter is responsible for sifting the best candidates and providing the list of best-suited candidates to the hiring manager. The biographical data reflected on a candidates CV covers the candidate’s background, personal interests, personal characteristics, etc. and this information has been proven to be effective in determining or predicting the candidate’s job performance (Pulakos, 2005).

Advantages of Psychological Assessment at Work

Since structured interviews can take multiple forms, it is important to determine and set the questions for assessment in a manner that best brings out the qualities of the candidate in relation to the position of an executive (Taylor, 2016). Candidates may be presented with hypothetical scenarios of a job situation wherein they would be expected to describe what they would within the situation. Additionally, they may also be asked about past experiences that measure essential abilities and characteristics. 

Structured interviews play an important role in assessing the presentation and communication skills of the candidate (Doll, 2018). Also, since all candidates are asked the same questions, the interviewer ask the same kind of information about various candidates, it is an unbiased method of recruitment. This makes it easier and more just as the candidates are all evaluated on the same level. Comparisons can be made quicker in terms of the candidate’s potential to fulfill the job requirements of an executive.

Structured interviews are far more organized and planned than unstructured interviews. Unstructured interviews entail a process which is carried out without any formal structure in the interview. Moreover, by using a panel interview format, a structured interview can be a lot more efficient than unstructured interviews and this not only makes the selection process more accurate but also saves a lot of time. Structured interviews also allow the interviewer to have a better understanding of the mental and psychological levels of the candidate by asking precise questions without having to be carried away into a conversation. Also, since structured interviews are formal, the candidate's formal and professional attitude is presented which can be analyzed by the interviewer to score the candidate for professionalism and maintaining the decorum of the workplace.

Along with structured interviews, conducting General Mental Ability or GMA tests enables the recruiter to have a better predicting of the future performance of the candidate, if he or she is selected. Although GMA tests can be conducted in a variety of ways such as pencil tests like Wonderlic, for a position of an executive, online computer-adaptive tests would be better suited to test the proficiency, skills, and knowledge of the candidate. GMA tests allow the recruiter to assess and score the cognitive abilities of the candidate on all levels. Additionally, no additional training is required to administer GMT tests, this will help the company in conducting tests with multiple candidates at once under the help of various members of the human resource team. However, when it comes to GMS tests, it is of utmost importance to track the scores and demographics. Another advantage of GMT tests is that they are a lot more affordable than personality tests and a combination of aptitude tests has a validity than individual tests (Salgado, 2017).

Limitations of Psychological Assessment at Work

GMA tests have the potential to have adverse impacts on particular members of a minority group. Minorities often tend to score one standard deviation below non-minority groups, and as a result, minorities may experience an adverse impact depending on how the scores are utilized within the selection process. Additionally, the differences between the abilities of men and women may vary. There may be a difference in the knowledge of subjects such as technology or mathematics which may not work in favor of female applicants and thus negatively impact the scores of these applicants. HR personnel need to be clearly briefed on the purpose of GMT tests and they ought to remember that these tests are solely to predict the future performance of the candidate and not to be used as a measure of intelligence (Drinka, 2017). Cognitive tests such as GMA’s are used to predict the job performance of the individual. However, although GMA tests are cost-effective when it comes to measuring the cognitive abilities of the candidate, Druinka (2017) points out that they are not the most suitable way to measure candidates when hiring for leadership positions. The reason behind this is that even though leadership and intelligence may be correlated, intelligence may not necessarily be the single most important factor in leadership positions. Leadership positions such as the position of an executive skill which is beyond intelligence such as interpersonal skills and experience in management.

When it comes to the limitations of structured interviews, many recruiters and managers often choose not to use it as it disturbs the flow of the conversation. The flow of conversation in an unstructured interview reveals a lot about the candidate which helps in recognizing the candidates ‘attitudes and behaviors. Hence, by trying to control digression in a structured interview, it impedes spontaneity (Dorothy, 2017). Furthermore, according to Dorrothy (2017) is it is important to ensure that candidates are relaxed and can converse in free flow. It sometimes happens that structured interviews limit the candidate from expressing him or herself in other contexts which may be useful for the selection process even though it is not part of the structured interview procedure. This does not allow the interviewer to gain information about the candidate in various scenarios or the way the candidate may have wished to present him or herself. 

Another disadvantage of structured interviews is that the interviewer may appear aloof and seem uninterested in the interview because of the repetitive nature of a scripted interview. Interviewers of structured interviews may seem disengaged as they may have had to repeat the same questions to a number of candidates since the flow of conversation is not allowed in this interview structure. The flow of conversation is especially important in interviews with potential executives because one gets to know the candidate on a mental and psychological level (Rashidi, 2014). The replies on various questions and counter questions on the things and statements that the candidate makes enable the interviewer to develop a deeper understanding of the candidate's abilities. However, structured interviews limit this option as they do not promote a flow of conversation but rather prefer the interviewer to stick to the script. This is among the key reasons that most companies either prefer informal interviews or rather opt for a mix of both informal as well as structured interviews to get a balanced outcome of both sides and be better equipped to score and analyze the candidate for the position of an executive.

Conclusion on Psychological Assessment at Work

The technique and method used in the selection process of an executive pay a crucial role in the future of the company. Any mistake in the process may cost the company not only large sums of money but also its reputation. An executive position is among the most important positions in any company; hence, it is important that a candidate in this position is selected through great assessment and scrutiny. Since the profile of an executive demands that the candidate is well versed and knowledgeable with various aspects of the company, he or she must have a great experience as well as in-depth knowledge on a myriad of subjects. Additionally, an executive must be a great leader and have excellent communication abilities. To assess these competencies, the recruitment process of an executive ought to involve a mixture of a number of methods to best analyze the candidate on various levels. Conducting a General Mental Ability test along with a structured interview are key methods and techniques for selecting an executive.

References for Psychological Assessment at Work

Corvirtus. (2015). Structured interviews: Four key advantages to using them. Retrieved from https://corvirtus.com/four-key-advantages-to-using-structured-interviews/

Dalton, D. (2017). Why don’t we use structured interviews more? Retrieved from https://dorothydalton.com/2017/08/25/why-dont-we-use-structured-interviews-more/

Doll, J. (2018). Structured interviews: Developing interviewing skills in human resource management courses.Management Teaching Review, 3(1), 46-61.

Drinka, G. (2017). The advantages and disadvantages of using cognitive ability tests for workplace selection. Retrieved from https://www.ginevradrinka.com/thoughtleadership/2018/2/16/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-using-cognitive-ability-tests-for-workplace-selection

Pulakos, E. (2005). Selection assessment methods. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/Documents/Selection-Assessment-Methods.pdf

Rashidi, N., Begum, A., Mokhtar, M. & Pereira, J. (2014). The conduct of structured interviews as research implementation method. Journal of Advanced Research Design, 1(1), 28-34.

Salgado, J. (2017). Using ability tests in selection. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318311773_Using_Ability_Tests_in_Selection

Sessa, V., Kaiser, R., Taylor, R. & Campbell, R. (n.d.). Executive selection. Retrieved from http://media.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ExecutiveSelection.pdf

Taylor, V. (2016). The structured interview exercise. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319288323_The_Structured_Interview_Exercise

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