Fit Your Job

You’ve just applied for the perfect position, or you are up for promotion for the job of your dreams.

But, there’s a catch.

You have to do some psychological testing.

It is common to feel trepidation when faced with the prospect of employment testing. But understanding what testing entails, is half the battle.

Employment testing is the use of tests by an employer to assist in hiring the right person, retaining valuable employees or promoting them. It involves testing prospective employee’s personalities, their main traits and characteristics, or their cognitive abilities, such as critical thinking or analytical ability.

Some tests delve into a person’s aptitudes. These tests identify what you might be good at. Technical skill tests are common, they target specific job related skills. Also, there are morality questionnaires that test for honesty.

Ideally, the tests used are standardized. This means they have been tested and re-tested on a large group and can reliably predict achievement, future performance, or accurately assess someone’s personality. Unfortunately, many tests on the market aren’t considered reliable or valid because they have not been standardized, which can lead to hiring or promotion mistakes.

Human Resources professionals trained in testing, or psychologists educated in employment testing are often hired to test applicants for a variety of reasons. Some companies use tests to hire and promote. For example, a trucking company tested prospective truckers for impulsivity, because patient people tend to have fewer accidents. Hiring patient drivers, contributed to a decrease in accidents and injury, as well as a reduction in costs for the organization.

Other businesses use tests to identify high potential employees. Once identified, these employees are groomed for future positions. Using coaching, training and mentoring, these companies develop talent from within and simultaneously retain excelling staff.
In some cases, poor performers are tested to determine if they are right for the job. For example, offering poor performers a position that better suits their skills, can help them excel in a job that better fits their abilities.

Testing can be expensive for employers, but many decide to test because they have found employment mistakes costly. For example, a company hired the competition’s top performer only to find that she didn’t live up to expectations. In retrospect, the reason she performed well for the competition, was that she had a strong team and supportive supervisor behind her. The company learned that testing for potential top performers, in-house, was a better way to proceed.

If you are being asked to complete a battery of psychological tests, there are three ways to ensure testing goes well:

1.Ask Questions
Find out about the tests you will be taking and how the results will be used. You can inquire about the quality of the test, as well as requesting feedback about your results. When hiring, companies sometimes do not have the time to give everyone who applies, feedback but it’s still worth a try.

2.Get Ready
Larry Stefan, Psychologist and President of L. Stefan & Associates, a personnel and selection company, in Vancouver, observed, “We get asked if you should study, so we tell our clients that you can’t really study for these types of tests, so not to worry, relax and complete the questionnaires as best you can”. However, you can eat well and get a good night’s rest, in preparation.

It’s important to be honest when completing questionnaires, sophisticated tests have a built-in ability to detect false information. Trying to fake on tests is possible, but it can backfire. If an employment test detects that you are trying to look good with dishonest answers, the employer will know and you might lose credibility.

Let the tester know about any issue that might affect your test results. If you are under stress, or experience test taking anxiety, tell the tester. You’ll be giving the tester information that is valuable in the interpretation of your results.

3.Be Open To Feedback
Although you can’t always get feedback about your test results, if you have the opportunity, take it. Be willing to discuss the report with your manager and take time needed to get the feedback. If you find it hard, or aren’t comfortable with all the results, take a break and come back to the conversation later, when you are relaxed. Most of the time, workers enjoy the feedback, learn something about themselves and put what they hear to good use.

Dr. Jennifer Newman is a registered psychologist. She can be reached at Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality.

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