Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is a test...

One rainy (and particularly boring) afternoon, I decided to ask the internet what my career should be. Through my search, I came across a fun career test. After answering several multiple choice questions, I was delighted to find that the career path I have chosen for myself is actually pretty precise for someone like me.

Although informal, I found that the test above was accurate in devising my professional aptitudes. Nevertheless, the use of tests in the workforce is actually not uncommon and there are many formal ones used by organizations.

Below are a series of employment tests as outlined by the Society for Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology – you can find the pros and cons of each test at www.siop.org

1. Assessment Centers:
What - Assesses interpersonal, communication, planning and organizing, and analytical skills.
How - Consists of exercises that reflect situations faced on the job. Uses raters who are trained to observe, classify, and evaluate behaviors. At the end, the raters judge the candidate’s overall performance.
Example- Asking a sales person candidate to make a sales presentation.

2. Biographical Data
What- Measures leadership, teamwork skills, job knowledge, interpersonal skills, extraversion and creativity among others.
How- Poses questions about education, training, work experience, and interests to predict success on the job. Asks about an individual’s attitudes, personal assessment of skills and personality.
Example- Background investigation forms/questionnaires

3. Cognitive Ability Tests
What- Measures ability to learn, logic, reasoning, reading comprehension, aptitude, potential to solve job-related problems and other mental abilities as fundamental to job success.
How- Uses questions or problems that provide information about the subject’s mental abilities, such as verbal or mathematical reasoning and perceptual abilities.
Example- Analyzing the job candidate’s speed in recognizing letters of the alphabet.

4. Integrity Tests
What- Assesses attitudes and experiences related to the candidate’s honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, reliability, and pro-social behavior.
How- Asks direct questions about previous experiences related to ethics and integrity or about preferences and interests from which inferences are drawn about future behavior in these areas.
Example- A retail store asking what you would do if you found a co-worker shoplifting.

5. Interviews
What- Assesses interpersonal, communication, teamwork skills and job knowledge.
How- Questions to evaluate knowledge, skills, abilities, and other qualities required for the job. Most commonly used type of test.
Examples- Group interviews, Phone interviews etc.

6. Job Knowledge Tests
What- Evaluates technical or professional expertise and knowledge required for specific jobs or professions.
How- Through multiple choice questions or essay type items
Example- A+/Net+ programming, and blueprint reading tests for Accountant candidates

7. Personality Tests
What- Measures extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, optimism, agreeableness, service orientation, stress tolerance, emotional stability, and initiative, among others.
How- Questions that measure traits related to behavior at work, interpersonal interactions, and satisfaction with different aspects of work.
Example- The DISC test (more about this particular test bellow).

8. Physical Ability Tests
What- Measures physical attributes and capabilities, such as strength, balance, and speed.
How- Uses tasks or exercises that require physical ability to perform.
Example- Asking a construction work candidate to lift 50lbs.

9. Work Samples and Simulations
What- Measures specific job skills or job knowledge, organizational skills, analytic skills, and interpersonal skills.
How- Requires performance of tasks that are the same or similar to those performed on the job.
Example- Asking an administrative assistant candidate to create a document in Microsoft Word.

All of these tests are used by organizations as decision making tools. When used preliminarily, they can help an organization choose the right candidate for the job and thus in turn decrease turnover. However, employment tests can be particularly helpful to employees as well. They can help you increase your self-knowledge, develop more skills and become an overall stronger professional.

A couple of years ago I took a DISC assessment test. The DISC assessment is a type of personality test based on the theory of psychologist William Marston, developed by Industrial Psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke and then simplified by psychologist John Geier. The test evaluates employees across four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

Those with a DOMINANT personality trait put major emphasis on accomplishing results. They prioritize getting immediate results, taking action and challenging themselves and others .
Individuals with an INFLUENCE personality trait put emphasis on persuading others. They are motivated by social recognition, disapproval, loss of influence and being ignored.
Individuals with a STEADINESS personality trait put emphasis on cooperating with others to carry out the task, they are characterized by patience, being a team person, having a calm approach, being a good listener and having humility.
Individuals with a CONSCIENTIOUS personality trait put emphasis on working to ensure quality and accuracy; they fear social criticism, careless methods and being wrong.

An individual may possess one or more of these specific personality traits. My DISC score found that I have two of these personality types and I found them both to be extremely accurate. Knowing my DISC score allowed me to learn how to optimize my specific work styles and how to work along with the styles of others. If your job offers the test I encourage you to take it. If not, a quick Google search can generate versions of the test online.

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