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Employment Test


Employment tests have become widely accepted in the selection process. The real value of the tests lies in eliminating those applicants who have very little chance of job success than in selecting applicants who will definitely be successful on the jobs.

A test is a sample of an aspect of an individual’s behaviour. It is a systematic procedure for a sampling human behaviour. Most large-scale organisations routinely employ tests while trying to match candidates’ profiles with the requirements of vacant positions.

Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Employee Test 2. Characteristics of Employee Test 3. Types 4. Purpose 5. Significance 6. Developing a Test Programme 7. Guidelines 8. Advantages 9. Criticisms.

Employment Test: Introduction, Significance, Characteristics, Types, Purposes, Advantages, Criticisms and Other Details

Employment Test – Introduction

A test is a sample of an aspect of an individual’s behaviour. It is a systematic procedure for a sampling human behaviour. Most large-scale organisations routinely employ tests while trying to match candidates’ profiles with the requirements of vacant positions. Tests measure individual differences in a scientific manner and enable the recruiter to pick up qualified applicants in an unbiased manner.


Of course, there is no guarantee that the recruiter will be able to pick up the most suitable candidate for a vacant position by using a battery of tests and by spending huge amounts of money.

But in most cases, employment tests will be able to separate the mediocre ones from the bright candidates and establish beyond doubt whether the chosen few would meet the requirements of the job or not. To be useful, the employer needs to deploy a number of tests, followed by a carefully planned interview.

A test must be pressed into service only when it meets the following criteria:


1. First, the test itself must be validated — that is, the test must measure what it says it is measuring.

2. Second, the test must be reliable — meaning the results must be consistently repeatable. Reliability is often a problem with interviews, where it is not uncommon for two interviewers to get different responses to the same questions, depending on the interviewer’s ability to both probe and interpret the responses or the effect of the setting in which the interview is given.

3. Finally, the test must be job relevant and job specific.

Professionally developed and properly validated employment tests can help a company’s hiring process by increasing the likelihood of hiring candidates who will perform well on the job. Pre- employment testing can help ensure alignment between the employee selection process and desired business outcomes such as lower turnover, increased sales, improved employee morale and higher customer satisfaction.


It will also reduce costs associated with turnover such as additional hiring and fresh training costs. When properly implemented, a pre-employment testing programme would also help in predicting performance because tests are an objective means of determining the extent to which a candidate has the capacity to perform well at a given job.

There is considerable amount of research supporting this view. One reason why tests such as aptitude and interest tests are such accurate predictors of job performance is that the qualities these tests measure — problem solving, the ability to learn and apply new information, creative thinking, critical reasoning, etc. are abilities that are very important to a variety of jobs.

Tests could help identify people with the right kind of competencies required to do a job in an efficient and effective manner. Of course, to avoid wide spread criticisms of various kinds, it is always a prudent way to deploy only professionally developed and properly validated employment tests.

Employment tests would be accepted as effective screening tools only when they measure the knowledge, skills and abilities that will be required to handle a specific job. In short, to be a valid predictor of performance, a test must measure job related competencies and abilities.

Individuals differ with respect to physical characteristics, capacity, and level of mental ability, likes and dislikes and also with respect to personality traits. The differences among the individual candidates can be analysed with the help of various psychological and trade tests.

These tests can provide important information about the candidate as regards his intelligence, aptitude, interest, personality, etc. Various types of tests available to match the characteristics of the candidates with the requirements of the jobs advertised.

Employment Test – 5 Important Characteristics

Psychological tests are most carefully developed instruments, following certain highly standardised and often intricate procedures discovered by the psychologists as a result of long researches.

Such tests usually possess the following characteristics:

1. Assumption:


The use of tests is based on the assumption that no two persons are equal so far as intelligence, skills, aptitudes and personality are concerned. The different attributes of the individual are revealed when tests are used. Further, people possessing varying skills or other attribute perform differently on a job.

2. Validity:

Validity refers to the extent to which a test measures what it is designed to measure. A typing or short-hand test, for example, should accurately measure a person’s ability to type or take dictation.

Validity may be of four specific types, viz.:


(a) Content validity,

(b) Predictive validity,

(c) Concurrent validity, and

(d) Construct validity.


(a) Content Validity:

Content Validity indicates how well the content of the test, as a sample, represents all the situations that could have been included. For example, in building a test, one would seek content validity only in the sense of trying to duplicate the most important classes of activities such as typing financial statements, writing letters, or preparing manuscripts from rough copy.

If, in the judgement of those who know the kinds of work that is done, the sample tasks are reasonably representative of the probable job assignments, then the test is said to have reasonable content validity.

(b) Predictive Validity:


Predictive Validity is the degree to which there is a relationship between scores on a test and some future behaviour, which is required of a person if he is to perform successfully the job for which he is being tested.

This is probably the most important type of validity for personnel selection, since predictive validity tells that there is a strong relationship between a test score and some later outcome, presumably a job performance criterion like production output or managerial effectiveness.

For example, when a college recruiter screens candidates based upon their grades, he is assuming a high predictive validity between these grades and actual performance on the jobs for which he is recruiting. These grades, in total, represent a test from which he is estimating future job behaviour.

(c) Concurrent Validity:

Concurrent Validity is the extent to which test scores are related with a job behaviour measure that is available at the same time. If employees in the organisation are divided into two groups, high performers and low performers, they could be given a standardised selection test. If it is found that high performers scored significantly above the low performers, this test could be used in predicting high performance among new applicants.

(d) Construct Validity:

Construct Validity is the most difficult type of validity to understand and to prove. It reflects the extent to which the test measures the psychological quality like “intelligence” or “introversion” it is supposed to measure. It is most theoretical type of validity since it is aimed at measuring the relationship between a test and an artificial abstraction or “construct” such as intelligence.

3. Reliability:

The reliability of a test means the test’s ability to give consistent results. Test reliability is “the consistency of scores obtained by the same person when retested with the identical test or with an equivalent from the test.”

Test consistency is very important- if a person scores, say 80 on an intelligence test on Sunday and 120 when retested on Monday, test cannot be relied upon in that case. Several ways are used to measure reliability.

For example, the same test may be administered to the same people at two different points of time, comparing their performance at time two with that at time one. Or a test may be administered and then another equivalent test may be administered at a later date, which the experts may suggest.

4. Standardisation:

A test must be standardised that administered under standard conditions to large group of persons who are representative of the individual for whom it is intended. This is done to obtain norms or standards so that an individual’s score can be compared to the scores of others in the representative sample of people or a defined group like college students, adults, etc.

5. Objectivity:

To be reliable, a test must be constructed in such a fashion that two or more persons can score the responses to items, questions or tasks in the same way. Finally, if the subject’s test score is to import any meaningful information, it must be interpretable in relation to scores made by other individuals in a defined group.

Employment Test – 5 Important Types Used in Business and Industry for the Selection of Personnel

A large number of tests are used in business and industry for the selection of personnel.

They can be classified into the categories discussed below:

Type # 1. Intelligence Tests:

These tests are used to judge the mental capacity of the applicants. They measure the individual learning abilities, i.e., ability to catch or understand instructions and also ability to make decision and judgement.

There are many verbal as well as non-verbal intelligence tests constructed by the psychologists for different jobs. Intelligence tests are widely used in the selection of personnel for almost every kind of job from the unskilled to the skilled one.

Type # 2. Aptitude Tests:

Aptitude means the potential which an individual has for learning the skills required to do a job efficiently. Aptitude tests measure an applicant’s capacity and his potential for development. Aptitude tests are the most promising indices for predicting candidate’s success.

There are two types of aptitude tests:

(a) Cognitive Test which measures mental and intellectual aptitudes, and

(b) Motor Test which measures physical dimensions such as manual dexterity or hand-eye coordination.

Type # 3. Proficiency Tests:

Proficiency tests are those which are designed to measure the skills already acquired by the individuals. They are also known as performance, occupational or trade tests. They are used to test the level of knowledge and proficiency acquired by the applicants.

A trade test takes a sample of individual’s behaviour which is designed as replica of the actual work situation. A trade test should be differentiated from an aptitude test. An aptitude test measures the potential of the applicant to learn skills required on a job.

Type # 4. Interest Tests:

Interest tests identify patterns of interests, i.e., areas in which the individual shows special concern, fascination and involvement. These tests will suggest what types of jobs may be satisfying to the employees. Interest tests are more often used for vocational guidance also. They help the individuals in selecting occupations of their interest.

Type # 5. Personality Tests:

Personality tests probe the qualities of an individual’s personality as a whole, the combination of aptitude, interest and usual mood and temperament. It is very difficult to devise and use personality tests because they are concerned with discovering clues to an individual’s value system, his emotional reactions, maturity, etc.

Employment Test – Purposes

Psychological tests are used for more than one purpose.

They are used for the purpose of:

1. Guiding and counseling students seeking admission to schools and colleges;

2. Vocational guidance of adults seeking help in their careers;

3. Research into human behaviour and personality; and

4. Selection of candidates for an organisation.

Tests are also used for the purpose of making a differential placement or assignment of a person to the job for which he is most suitable; for selecting candidates for promotion and transfer within an organisation; for selecting candidates for assignment to a company training programme; and for assisting in individual employee in solving his problems.

According to Wendell, tests are used in business for three primary purposes:

1. For the selection and placement of new employees;

2. For appraising employees for promotional potentials; and

3. For counseling employees. If properly used, psychological tests can be of paramount importance for each of these purposes.

According to Meyer and Bertottle, candidates are judged on the basis of their physical characteristics, their abilities and skills, their interest and personality traits.

Employment Test – Significance

Employment tests have become widely accepted in the selection process. The real value of the tests lies in eliminating those applicants who have very little chance of job success than in selecting applicants who will definitely be successful on the jobs. It should be remembered that when the tests are used, they should not be relied upon completely. It is advisable to often tools also like interviewing, reference checking, etc.

Tests can help to uncover talent that may otherwise be over-looked and to differentiate between the ability required for the present job and that required for the new jobs. Another advantage is that a great deal of information about a person’s competence can be known by using tests.

Tests reduce the costs of selection and placement because a large number of applicants can be evaluated within a short period of time. If an employer expects to continue in a competitive business, the costs of hiring and the costs of training must be kept to a minimum. Psychological tests can reduce the costs of hiring people who will be successful by measuring their aptitude and predicting their success.

Employment Test – Developing a Test Programme: 6 Steps Involved

Developing a testing programme calls for careful planning, analysis, experiment, and technical knowledge. For this purpose, the services of a qualified person — such as an Industrial Psychologist or a Personnel Manager who is expert in Psychology, Psychometrics and the use of statistical methods are requisitioned.

The following steps are generally involved in establishing a sound testing programme:

1. Deciding the objectives of a testing programme, i.e., whether it is meant for hiring personnel or for transfers, promotions, etc. Initially, such a programme may be set up only for some jobs. It may then be expanded to cover all types of jobs in an organisation.

2. Analysing jobs to identify those characteristics which appear necessary for job success, i.e., the need for active habits, eye-hand co-ordination, finger-and-arm dexterity, perceptual and sensory abilities and such other specific characteristics. In other words, it has to be decided as to which ‘human traits and skills’ are necessary for adequate performance of job.

Consideration may be given to two criteria- one, production-related criteria, i.e., quantity, quality etc., and two, personnel data, i.e., absenteeism, length of service, etc.

3. Choosing tests to measure characteristics- These tests may be chosen by keeping in mind such factors as reliability, content or face validity, level of difficulty, ease of administration, and the cost involved. This choice is usually based on experience, previous research, “guesses.”

Several tests known as “Battery of Tests” are chosen with the purpose of measuring a variety of possible predictors, such as aggressiveness, extroversion, numerical ability, etc.

4. Administering tests to an experimental group of people, i.e., to applicants under consideration for jobs. For purposes of employment, a test is usually administered after an application blank has been examined and there has been a preliminary interview. Many candidates are rejected for a variety of reasons before tests are administered.

5. Establishing criteria of job success, i.e., the criteria should take into account such factors as the quality and quantity of output, accident frequency, regularity or otherwise in attendance, grades obtained during training, speed of promotion in an organisation, professional achievements (published work, awards received), and formal ratings determined by the supervisor.

6. Analysing the results of tests and taking decisions regarding the applications of tests- As no single test can be expected to measure all the abilities required for a satisfactory job performance, a number of tests in combination are usually administered.

Employment Test – 8 General Guidelines

There are some rules and principles which should be observed while considering the testing alternatives.

The general guidelines are:

1. Tests are to be used as a Supplement Rather than as a Substitute for any other Method- No test should ever be used as the sole criterion for selection, placement, promotion or transfer. Even valid tests represent a small sample of a person’s total pattern of behaviour. Hence, reliance should also be placed on information derived from other procedures — from interviews, application blanks, and background checks. A reasonably complete picture of a candidate can thus be obtained.

2. Tests are better at Predicting Failure than Success- Testing procedures often determine which applicants will not or cannot perform a job satisfactorily; they do not necessarily determine who can or will perform such duties in a very effective and efficient manner.

3. Tests are a Screening Device- They are useful when it is necessary to pick up a small select group from many applicants. When hundreds of candidates apply for a few jobs, a test can only be a preliminary selection technique.

4. Test Scores are not Precise Measures because they are Sample of Behaviour- They, therefore, cannot be totally accurate predictors of anything. A test score of 90 does not precisely reveal a 90 per cent grasp of a subject matter. Test subjects with the highest test scores are not always better choices for a job than those who score lower.

5. Every Test must be validated in the Organisation in which it is used- It is always necessary to test the test itself before it is assumed that it will enable us to predict a successful performance of a job. A test may be validated by undertaking research into the environment in which it is used. Besides, a test must also be reliable.

In other words, a person should receive the same score whenever he takes the same test, unless some significant educational development has taken place between testing dates.

6. Test Conditions are Important- The place where the tests are administered should be reasonably private as well as quiet, well lighted and ventilated. All applicants should take the test under the same test conditions. This ensures that some do not get high or low scores due to differences in test conditions.

7. Invasion of Privacy should be avoided- Most tests are personal and should, therefore, be held in strict confidence. Where necessary, test should be administered and evaluated by experts. The results should be kept confidential till they are declared.

8. Test Administration, Scoring and Interpretation Require Technical Competence and Training in Testing- So, testing must be done by qualified psychologists.

Work Sampling:

‘Work Sampling’ is another technique for screening candidates. This technique is based on the presumption that the best indicator of future performance is past performance. Before selecting an employee, the personnel manager in many cases prefer to inquire about the candidates’ “prior work experience” to make his judgement.

The basic procedure involves choosing several specific tasks that are crucial to performing the job for which a candidate is being recruited. The applicants are then tested on these specific tasks, their performance (on these tasks) is then used as a predictor of their performance on the job.

As a screening tool, several advantages have been claimed for this technique. Gary Dessler observes, “The emphasis is on samples of actual behaviour so it is harder to ‘fake’ answers (as a person might on aptitude or interest tests). The work sample is more clearly relevant to the job you are recruiting for. The content of the work sample is not as likely to be ‘unfair’ (or to emphasise middle class concepts and values) as some psychological tests might be. And, since you are not delving into the applicants’ background and personality, there is almost no chance of the work sample being viewed as an invasion of privacy.”

Employment Test – Top 7 Benefits to the Company and Employers

When used appropriately under a well-planned testing programme, tests can and do lead to a number of positive benefits to the company in the long run.

For instance:

1. It is easier to determine the value of a test as a selection device, then it is possible to evaluate interview or application blanks.

2. Tests are subject to minimum subjective bias or are much more objective than any other selection device presently available.

3. Tests provide a uniform basis for comparing candidates from diverse background. They challenge the interviewers or the supervisors to think through their evaluation more carefully.

4. They reduce to a considerable extent the labour turnover and which in turn may result in reduced costs of training (because lesser workers will have to be trained as a result or reduced turnover).

5. They may increase production because better workers are employed; and may result in increased satisfaction of employees because they are placed on the job for which they are most competent and interested. This may reduce absenteeism, reduce rate of accidents and increase morale of the workers.

6. Tests minimise the time of selection and can also be judiciously used in training the workers for appropriate positions by determining their training ability on the basis of the test scores.

7. Tests are of great value in selecting people with promotional ability, discovering the various causes of failure at the job by analysing the personality traits for the individuals.

It must be admitted that though tests are an extremely sophisticated technique for measuring behavioural characteristics, they have their own limitations. As Tiffin and McCormick point out, “It should be recognised that psychological tests are not infallible and that sometimes they reveal results which are not a true indication of the potential job success of the candidate.”

The use of testing in industry should be done with caution because some highly enthusiastic individuals are likely to be fascinated by the interesting ideas which such testing provide. Unscrupulous people, making use of the tests, make exaggerated claims about effectiveness of their testing programmes. Further tests may be administered by incompetent professionals which give wrong results.

Therefore, tests should be developed cautiously, within the organisation to take care of its selection needs. It is better to look upon tests as the good adjuncts of interview, application blanks, and such other devices of selection.

Some Other Benefits of Employment Tests:

The employment tests can offer the following advantages to the employers:

(i) A test is an objective and standardized sample of certain qualities. It tends 1o eliminate biasness in the selection of personnel.

(ii) Tests can identify talents of individuals which might otherwise be overlooked.

(iii) Tests reduce the costs of selection and placement because large number of applicants can be evaluated within the least possible time.

(iv) Psychological tests can measure the aptitude of candidates and predict their success.

(v) Tests provide a healthy basis for comparing applicants’ background. They compel the interviewers to think through their evaluation more carefully.

Employment Test – Criticisms

Employment tests are often criticised on the following grounds:

(i) Tests measure only a part of the total information needed to make an accurate selection. This criticism would be justified if tests were the only selection method used. In practice tests are rarely used as the only selection method. The objective should be to maximise accuracy in selection by choosing proper combination of employment tests, interviewing and other methods.

(ii) Sometimes, tests cannot make prediction of chances of success of an applicant because he was nervous. But this is valid only when the test results for the entire group are not valid. However, research data in regard to their validity is lacking. It is true that tests are far from perfect, but other methods like application blank, interviews, reference checks, etc. are also of limited value.

(iii) No test can measure with guarantee the complex combination of characteristics required in numerous positions. But it should be remembered that tests have been devised which do measure far more complex functions and faculties.

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