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The main idea of this chapter is to discuss the introduction of the research and its background and to discuss about psychometric analysis and its importance in recruitment. In this chapter, the researcher is also introducing justification of the research, aims and objectives of the research and explained the sequential outline of the study.
1.2 Research Title:
“Analysis of Psychometric Assessment in Recruitment – Using a case study on ‘Tesco’”
1.2.1 Research Aims:
The aim of the research is to analyse the use, advantages and disadvantages of the psychometric assessment. This also includes a case study based on Tesco, a retail industry.
1.2.2 Research Objectives:
The objectives of doing this research using the study are:
- To study about the effectiveness of psychometric assessment.
- To analyse the psychometric assessment using a case study.
- To study how successful is psychometric assessment in the recruitment process.
- To know the advantages and disadvantages of the psychometric assessment.
1.3 Research questions:
- How useful is psychometric assessment?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of psychometric assessment?
- Are the employers and the candidates happy with this assessment?
The scope involves understanding how the psychometric assessment works and how useful it is. And the study also includes the advantages and disadvantages of the psychometric assessment.
The study covers the following topics:
- The study covers the importance of psychometric assessment in recruitment process.
- The satisfaction of the employers, employees and the candidates.
- Analysis of the psychometric assessment in recruitment process.
- This study is done in a retail industry situated in UK.
- Involves role of employers and employees of the organisations in research.
- Involvement of candidates who have attended the assessment but are not working in the organisations.
1.5 Research Rationale:
The concern to the psychometric tests with regards to selection has been increasing.
According to Kline, 1993, “Psychometric assessments maximise the chances of recruiting the correct candidate for the specified job. It is understood from the Research on a wide range of businesses and roles that the use of psychometric assessments, with regards to the ability tests, increases the success rate”. (Kline, 1993, p.374)
It is important to note that reliability should be there on testing and should give the same result which is valid always, and continue with their type of testing maintaining records for the proofs when an assessment is marked.
The rationale behind the development of this tool is that those who have high levels of both linear and lateral thinking, i.e., diagonal thinkers, are far more likely to succeed in the advertising industry.
The cognitive skills are judged from the abilities and the reasoning assessments which are to be applied in the workplace. These assessments show the performance of the candidate on the job and also their capability for improvement and development in the organisation. Tests typically used in this form of assessment are those which test. “The verbal, quantitative, and abstract reasoning are tested using these assessments. These are recognised as crucial factors of a person’s capability for performance and development in the workplace.” (Iles and Salaman, 1995)
And the personality assessments help in testing the suitability of a person’s attitude with the organisational culture and also the abilities needed for the role. Such characteristics often taken into account are:
- “interpersonal interaction in the workplace
- style of thinking
- consistency of work performance
- emotions and self attitude
- Coupled with ability assessments, the motivation and abilities required for a job are shown in the personality tests.”.
Ref: Bridge Consulting, Specialist Recruitment, 27/2/2008
Psychometric testing is now used by over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK. (Web 1, 2008). Information technology companies, financial institutions, management consultancies, local authorities, the civil service, police forces, fire services and the armed forces all use of psychometric testing in a wide way. (Web 2, 2008)
1.6 Conceptual underpinnings of the research:
Psychometric assessment can be followed in a straightforward way at the beginning stages of recruiting to take off the candidates who seem to be not suitable for the job or, using a more sophisticated approach, to guide on career progression for the employees.
Psychometric tests are divided into five types. Ability tests and Aptitude tests which try to measure your mental abilities, Personality tests and Motivational tests which try to measure aspects of your personality and Other tests which measure the both.
The potential of an individual may be identified by undergoing the self-assessment tests which can be found on the internet or in newspapers, books etc, an exact result – and a feedback could be achieved through defined tests used within organisations, which are prepared by psychologists, derived from an accurate and deep research, and are eligible to be used only by the trained and approved ones.
“There’s a real danger when personality profiles are used as labels, by us and others.” (Gavin Andrews, 2008)
1.7 Background of Research:
Psychometric analysis is becoming important and familiar as many of the HR professionals have been showing interest in this perception of science.
Psychometric analysis is useful in the recruitment process for the appraisals and also for the training purposes. This perception of science would surely be very useful tool to HR personnel for selecting the correct candidate for a correct place.
“Psychometric analysis would also help the youngsters to make a choice on their career.” (Bonnet, D.G., 1979). Each and every individual has their own talent, whereas only a few recognise that and would have a successful career. Therefore, Psychometric analysis helps an individual to choose their career by identifying their own talent.
Psychometric test, as the name mentions has nothing to do with calculating one’s psychological ability. The suitability of individual’s behaviour and the attitude towards the organizational culture work are measured by the employers using these assessments. The employers started believing that the relevant skills for the required job role are only not necessary but the candidate’s attitude also important while selecting in the recruitment process.
Psychometric tests are used by most of the organizations in order to reduce the man power in the recruitment process. The organizations find the psychometric assessment tool more convenient in selecting a number of candidates on a regular basis and therefore, there has been a rapid growth in the usage of this tool abroad and also in India in this millennium. And also, at present most of the organizations are showing interest to invest more on the recruitment and the development process. This is the main reason the researcher has chosen the research on analysis of psychometric assessment.
1.8.1 Psychometric assessment in recruitment process:
In the present world, Occupational testing has been familiar in the organizations by the employers in the process of recruitment and for development. In the perspective of the employers or the organization, the outcome of the assessments would help in assumption of the career choice. “Tests generally contain a standardised set of questions or tasks, which are used to measure the comparative skills, knowledge, abilities and other characteristics of individuals in an employment context.”(Barry Fitzgerald et.al., 2008)
Interviews alone are no longer useful for the selection process based on the experience and a visual representation. Psychometric tests have become important in the aspect of the employers in selecting the candidates, as it gives a bigger picture and view about the candidate. However, candidate’s fear of the word “Psychometric Assessment” alone has been enough for them (candidates) to hold back. (Web 5)
Candidates going for an interview for a job or a promotion would be very busy preparing their CV’s and for the difficult questions which would be asked in the interview. It is more important for the candidates to be ready and prepared for the psychometric assessment as 70% of the organizations would be using the aptitude tests as the first and important process in their recruitment process. (Web 6)
1.8.2 Company History:
Jack Cohen the founder of Tesco in 1919 started selling more number of groceries from a stall in the East End of London for which he earned a profit of one pound with the sales four pounds. Tesco Tea was the Jack’s first own brand product in 1924 before the company was named. The name ‘Tesco’ has been derived from the initials of Jack’s partner TE Stockwell and CO from Jack’s surname. Tesco has started its first petrol stations in 1974 and the annual sales reached one billion pounds in 1979. First electronic stores have been introduced in Tesco in 1982. Tesco becomes the market leading food retailer and also introduces club card in 1995. Tesco.com is established in 2000. Tesco declares plans to establish cash and carry business in India in 2008. (Web 7)
1.8.3 Structure of Tesco:
The customer is located at the top in the Tesco’s organizational structure. Tesco requires candidates with suitable skills at all the levels in the structure. The organizational structure consists of six levels including management and the staff for which each level has its own required skills.
- Work level 1 – frontline jobs working directly with customers. Various in-store tasks, such as filling shelves with stock. Requires the ability to work accurately and with enthusiasm and to interact well with others.
- Work level 2 – leading a team of employees who deal directly with customers. Requires the ability to manage resources, to set targets, to manage and motivate others.
- Work level 3 – running an operating unit. Requires management skills, including planning, target setting and reporting.
- Work level 4 – supporting operating units and recommending strategic change. Requires good knowledge of the business, the skills to analyse information and to make decisions, and the ability to lead others.
- Work level 5 – responsible for the performance of Tesco as a whole. Requires the ability to lead and direct others, and to make major decisions.
- Work level 6 – creating the purpose, values and goals for Tesco plc. Responsibility for Tesco’s performance. Requires a good overview of retailing, and the ability to build a vision for the future and lead the whole organisation.
There is a seven-part framework in Tesco which explains the required important skills and behaviours for each role at each level. Therefore, from this the employees would able to know if they are suitable for that specific role or not. (Web 8)
1.8.4 Company Profile:
“Tesco PLC mainly operates the food retailing stores and had some more activities in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia”. “Tesco PLC’s other sources include many other activities such as retail, purchasing, finances, investments etc. Tesco PLC has 3,278 stores around the world providing a variety of services and products such as Tesco express, Tesco Metro, Tesco Superstore and Tesco Extra. The Group operations focuses on four strategy which is Core UK, International, Non-Food and Retailing Services.” (Web 9)
1.9 Psychometric Analysis in an organization:
Any organization would not be able to be successful unless it has the suitable candidate in the roles, in spite of the company investing on the huge new equipments or the technologies which would lead to the degradation of the company’s fame. If the employers think that selecting the correct candidates for a role would lead the business to a successful path, they have to think twice. It is highly needed for a successful and moving forward company to recruit the highly capable candidates while recruiting and it also requires understanding the employees properly. It is also important using psychometric assessment to check if the candidate is placed in a suitable team environment in order to accomplish their skills and also encourage the team’s work and the performance. And then he/she also should be able to identify the skills of the employees for the further development requirements in the company. The main prospect of choosing psychometrics in selecting candidates is to have the participation of all the candidates to increase the profits on the investment. Once the candidate’s motivators are recognised, it is very easy to manage and mould the employee according to the company’s needs and would lead to the company profits. (Web 10)
1.10 Justification of Research:
As discussed in above path of research regarding psychometric test, the researcher came to a conclusion that the psychometric test plays an important role in every company’s recruitment process. So the author thought to look for a company which uses psychometric test to larger extent to recruit most of their staff. Tesco is a company who believes in the continuous development of their employees and looks after that everyone is equipped with the skills required in their role. They also make sure that everyone gains a good overall knowledge of retailing. Tesco is the biggest private sector employer in the UK with over 285000 employees. It is the largest British retailer by both global sales and domestic market shares with profits exceeding 3 billion pounds. It is currently third largest global retailer based on revenue behind Wal-Mart and Frances, Carrefour, but second largest based on profits. The company has operations in the rest of Europe, including the Republic of Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Tesco also operates stores in Asia, including Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. Therefore, all the above factors motivated the researcher to select the topic.
1.11 Outline of the study: The researcher has divided the research into six chapters as follows.
- Introduction -The author has started the introduction by explaining about the introduction of psychometric assessment in recruitment process followed by research aims and objectives, research questions, scope, research rationale, conceptual underpinnings of the research, background of the research, psychometric analysis in an organisation and justification of the research.
- Literature Review – Literature Review is sub-divided into the following exercises. The author has started the literature review by giving the definition of psychometric assessment followed by the psychometric assessments, then its origin and background, then an explanation for why and when the tests are to be used, then the types of psychometric assessment, followed by explaining the measurement of tests with an interpretation of the tests with an example of a norm curve, then the limitations, advantages and disadvantages of the tests concluded with the critical features of the test.
- Research Methodology – The researcher has explained the research strategy followed by Sampling and the data collection. The research consists of both qualitative and quantitative methods in collecting the information for the research questions. After a huge research the researcher has chosen to go for both the methods. In qualitative method, researcher has chosen the face to face interview using an interview schedule (questions). And in the quantitative method, questionnaires have been used for many of the employers, employees and the candidates who have gone through the psychometric assessment.
- Data Analysis – In data analysis the researcher have given the information which has been collected from the interviews and questionnaires and also the information from the primary and secondary data sources. Therefore, the researcher has given an analysis of the research from the qualitative and quantitative data collected.
- Conclusions – The conclusion of the research has been given by the author by explaining how she has met the research objectives, how was the aim addressed, and what was found by the author from the research.
- Recommendations – In this chapter, after doing the analysis of psychometric assessment in Tesco PLC, the author gives some important recommendations depending on the research carried out.
The author has given the research aims and objectives and a brief introduction of the research in this chapter. The following chapter is all about the important key people who have written and explained something which are relevant to the present study.
2. Literature review:
2.1 Definition of Psychometric Assessment?
Financial Times LEXICON defines psychometric test as, “A scientifically-based test that measures someone’s ability and their thinking skills, and also their personality and attitudes, in order to find out if they are suitable for a job”.
2.2 Psychometric Tests (Assessments):
Psychological tests have become familiar. Psychometric means ‘measurement of the mind’. Psychometric tests try to measure the psychological features including personality, motivation, career interests, competencies and intellectual abilities. At present the psychometric tests can also be found on the computer whereas earlier, it was made in multiple choice format and the answers would be handwritten b the applicants. A number of things would be faced by the applicants while undergoing the test in the given time. Most of the tests would be like the applicant should choose one option from different choices given.
Ref: Alan Price, p.no. 359
An example of such question is as following.
Q. I am the sort of person who…
- is a good team builder…
- is able to encourage others…
- gets good results…
- can be relied upon by others…
“At present, the importance and the usage of psychometric assessments have been increasing in the recruitment process (Fletcher 1993). Shackleton and Newell (1991) report results from their survey. They found that the use of personality tests had increased to 37 per cent compared with Robertson and Makin’s (1986), undertaken five years earlier, which found a 12 per cent use. At the same time the use of cognitive tests had increased from 9.3 per cent to 41.1 per cent. Newell and Shackleton (1994) report that testing is more likely to be used for management and graduate jobs than for administrative, secretarial or manual jobs, as shown in following table.”
2.3 Origin and Background of Psychometric Assessment:
In order to measure the intelligence, an experiment was carried out with a work both theoretically and practically in psychometrics. Making connected and useful tests including mental tests of his anthropometric measurements, Francis Galton is always named as the father of psychometrics. There is a relation to the study of psychophysics with the origin of psychometrics. The proposal to the measurement of intelligence by the psychometrician L.L. Thurstone, founder and first President of the Psychometric Society in 1936, made a theoretical study which was known as “law of comparative judgement” and which was similar to the study of psychophysical theory by Ernst Heinrich Weber and Gustav Fechner. And also Spearman and Thurstone have been a great part of the statistical method which is derived from the theory and experiment of factor analysis which is being used widely in psychometrics.
In the recent past, the study of psychometrics has been put into practice in calculating the attitudes, abilities, personality, academic accomplishment etc. Assessing such qualities without observing is not easy in which the purpose and the combined art of the assessment is to know and measure such qualities. Critics and many important persons of the physical sciences and social activists have said that such justification and measurement of a candidate’s intelligence could not be perfect and would also be difficult and also those calculations would be misused, like the way the psychometric tests used in the recruitment process:
“Example – an employer who wants a candidate for a position which requires the attention for a regular detail check would not be ready to appoint a person, who is creative and will not be happy with the repetitive detail checks.”
Ref: Psychometric Assessments. ‘Psychometric Assessments’, University of Melbourne.
2.4 Why are the psychometric tests used?
The tests are used to make an advance prediction or estimation of the job performance by the candidate. The psychometric assessment would give more information about the candidate and his abilities prior to the interview. The candidate’s abilities to fulfill the required role and the organizational culture would be measured in the test. The candidate’s attitude, mental position, emotional stability would be calculated, tested and compared if the candidate would be suitable for the position or not. The consistency and the dedication of the candidates through his psychological measures would be measured and tallied.
Ref: Criticism of psychological testing, HRM in a Business Context, Alan Price, p.no. 362[Source: Adapted from IRS (1997)].
2.5 When should tests be used?
Psychometric Assessment is used during the recruitment process in order to choose for the next step or for the final declaration, promotions, internal or external development, and team-spirit and also for counseling. Psychometric assessment plays a very big and vital role in the recruitment process. Using the psychometric assessment it is noticed if the assessment is helpful in any way to achieve the required objectives. In each case, the situation must be evaluated to see whether the tests used would be appropriate to help achieve the desired objectives. Though the tests are useful, there are a few situations when the tests are not to be used. Like, when there is a proof of a job performance it is worthless to put the same psychometric assessment for the candidate. Tests would be useful when used for recruiting the candidates who are entirely new to the organization. In the same way, the company may also avoid using some tests for some specific applications. Tests are used as the best decision makers. For an instance, to take a decision for a promotion of an employee, the previous tests results would be combined and compared with the present interview result and the decision would be taken depending on the records of the candidate considering all these factors to give a best detail if the candidate is suitable for that role. Using the result of psychometric assessment only should not be preferred.
The process for following and considering the test results should be genuine. Among many of the candidates applying for a role, the tests can be used to shortlist a few candidates who would be suitable for the role and should be forwarded for the interviews so that a direct and a last detailed check can be done for the candidate’s suitability for the role. Tests may be used for a company’s recruitment process or development and counseling purposes. Rather than these, if any external uses should be reported to the Central Testing Unit for their approval.
2.6 Types of Psychometric Assessment:
“Kline (1992) mentions that psychometric assessment fall into one of the five categories:
- Ability tests which measure intelligence, general reasoning, verbal, numerical or spatial ability.
- Aptitude tests which measure the skills in which the candidate is specialized.
- Personality tests which measure the characteristics and the attitude or traits.
- Motivational tests which measure the interest and the motivation.
- Other tests which include measuring mental disorders or are able to perform lesser than expected.”
Ref: Advanced Psychology through diagrams (Controversies in Psychology), Grahame Hill, p.no. 20
2.7 How are these tests measured?
Ipsative and Likert Scales :
Ipsative test scale is the one in which a respondent is forced to choose only one from one or more similar or suitable options. This is also sometimes called as ‘forced choice’ scale whereas in Likert test scale the respondent is able to select an option which best suits and the respondent satisfaction to a given question with more than two options.
Ipsative tests are useful in taking a decision in the selection process whereas it was not supported by some psychometricians who told that it is not correct to be used in recruitment process. In fact, Ipsative test is a tool which confuses and forces a person consisting of one that suits most and least which would be similar to choose. Ipsative tests compares the capabilities within an individual but do not compare different people.
Interpretation of psychometric tests:
Depending on the type of the assessment, interpretation is divided into two methods. According to a record of Employability Office, “Psychometric assessment Interpretation is made comparing the scores achieved by an individual and a reference group in the psychometric assessment. In order to distinguish the abilities and the personal nature of the applicants, the human resource department (personnel) measures such type of external characteristics in the recruitment process. This reference group is called a norm group due to its relationship to the normal curve.”
“Few psychometrics are referred internally rather than being referenced externally, in which the respondent would be required to select a asking the person who would be answering to choose a preferred style and in this case no reference or comparison group is used.”
Ref: From Leeds metropolitan university, a document of Employability Office
The Normal Distribution Curve:
I SHOULD DRAW A NORMAL DIST. CURVE OF TESCO
- In order to take the psychometric assessments, the employers need to be trained according to the personality theory whereas the untrained would not be able to understand the theory.
- Psychometric Assessment coming into effect is the debatable issue. One of the reason for the issue is, the candidates who are giving the test more than one time would find the test easy and would be easily successful because they would know the answers. And these candidates might help the others who are giving the test and the questions in the psychometric test would become familiar.
- There is a time limit for any tests.
- Most of the candidates have a problem with the language proficiency in going through a test. Though the candidates are more confident in their own different language and are from a typical ethnic background, they are going through a recruitment process in the dominant country language like English.
- Their talent is covered by set of questions and their skills to give their answers in an understandable language which is easier for the selectors. This would be a credit and spontaneous responses would be coming for the native speakers as it would be their own language. Whereas the mental speed would be lowered for the persons who are not from the native as they have to convert the language in their mental level. Instead of being an assessment of mental ability, the test in this case would be like a ‘proficiency in English’.
- Therefore, the tests would be unfair for the one’s whose first language is not English.
Ref: Criticism of psychological testing, HRM in a Business Context, Alan price, p.no.363.
Example of a test:
– Is your first language English?
– If no, did you have any problem in understanding the questions being asked in test?
– Is the time offered for test sufficient for you?
– Do you think you would have been able to perform the similar test if it was in your own language?
2.9 Advantages and Disadvantages of psychometric assessment:
- Tests scores would be in numbers with relation to the comparison of the other candidates of the same assessment.
- Tests results would give a good scope to compare the predicted future performance of the candidates with the actual performance.
- Tests give the exact and clear results whereas the interviews and the employee referrals would be long and transmitted in order to maintain secrecy.
- Tests measure the contents and the abilities instead of the image of a candidate.
- One test can give the broad scope of a person’s abilities and personal qualities.
- Tests are with certain principles depending on the fundamentals of the information in theory. Their fundamentals of the theory are reliable and valid.
- The test differentiates the good, average and poor.
- Test determines a conceptual language to the people by helping to understand the behavior.
- Reliable information from tests supplies attainable proof to justify decisions.
- Test gives a deep perception and explanation for behavior which can be used to justify the rejections.
- Respondents may give false answers in order to get the required scores for which a few contain ‘lie detectors’ to get rid of the false answers.
- Some of the candidates have insufficient perception to give an exact answer.
- Tests are not reliable because candidate having anxiety or headache or illness may not give appropriate answers which may lead to different results.
- Tests are invalid because most of the tests would not measure the factors that they say they really measure.
- Tests are irrelevant because they do not test the required principle qualities like honesty and punctuality which are relevant and required for an organization.
- Tests need minimum knowledge of literature and should be able to know the American jargon.
- Tests are not fair for the people who are not a white, from a middle-class etc as most of the tests have been made using them as a reference group.
- Organizations use the same tests which destructs the testing factors and their value.
Ref: Human Resource Management in a Business Context, 3rd Edition, Alan Price, p.no. 361.
2.10 Critical features of Psychometric Assessment:
There will be various kinds of
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