Quality indicators for psychological aptitude assessments

As aptitude assessments have become more common as part of the recruitment process, the number of different assessment providers has also increased. Psychological assessments are conducted from very different starting points, and their implementation methods can vary from very comprehensive assessments to lighter evaluations. 

It is therefore recommended that when choosing a partner for a suitability assessment, organisations are able to look at the providers and the different assessment methods correctly in order to find a provider that meets their needs and follows good practice in the field. The methods used, as well as who conducts the assessment, can significantly impact the results, quality, and candidate experience of the evaluation.

So what should you pay attention to?

Who carries out the assessment and what impact does this have on the outcome of the assessment?

 

In Finland, the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life requires that personal assessments are carried out reliably and that the assessors are competent. So far, there is no authority supervising the assessment and assessments can be carried out not only by psychologists and certified professionals, but also by others.

There are many measures of the quality of a suitability assessment, but in line with best practice, the assessment should always be carried out objectively and impartially. This means that the assessment should not be influenced by feelings, intuition or other subjective views, i.e. biases. However, sometimes it can be difficult to avoid emotions during an evaluation, as we can easily become attached to or attracted to, for example, a particular feature or characteristic of the person being evaluated. If this happens, the image of the candidate may be distorted and it may be difficult to make an objective recommendation to support a recruitment decision.

The assessment carried out by the psychologist ensures equality of assessment. Psychologists are trained in objectivity and are able to effectively avoid such biases or distortions during the assessment and put aside any feelings that could bias the outcome of the assessment.

The assessment process should also be based on the fair and ethical treatment of candidates throughout the assessment. If necessary, the professional ethics of psychologists can be investigated by the Professional Ethics Committee of the Association of Psychologists if there is any doubt that the assessment has not been carried out properly.

Who carries out the assessment therefore has a major impact on the outcome of the assessment. In a recruitment situation, the assessment is used to support the recruitment decision and should therefore give as objective picture of the candidate as possible.

What are the quality indicators for evaluation methods?

 

Assessment usually consists of a variety of tasks that measure personality, reasoning skills, motivational factors, etc. When choosing a service provider, it is worth considering the methods used to carry out the assessment, as there are many different types of assessment methods available on the market. Reliable assessment is based on a multi-method approach and should also be based on a representative sample of the working age population from the same or similar cultural/national backgrounds.

When considering evaluation methods, it is also useful to focus on their intended use. Psychological assessment is about evaluating the suitability of the candidate for the role and the work community, and for this reason it should always focus on the work environment. However, some of the methods on the market are not designed for the world of work, but are still used in some situations for assessment purposes.

The evaluation also uses methods based on psychological research methods. Such methods require the professional understanding of a psychologist, as it is difficult for non-psychologists to appreciate the limitations of psychological methods, which play an important role in drawing conclusions.

Reliability and quality are enhanced by the scientific research behind the methods. For example, personality tests should be based on research on how personality is constructed and what it means in practice for the job. Personality tests reflect the way we work, but that does not mean that we cannot work in the opposite way. However, acting in the opposite way requires more effort, conscious thought and energy, which is why we enjoy tasks that allow us to draw on our strengths and our natural way of working.

Using relevant and well-researched work personality tests, the assessment will therefore explore the candidate’s natural behaviours and work habits to gain a better understanding of what kind of tasks they are comfortable with and what kind of work environment they are best able to work in.

What kind of tasks and tests give a true picture?

 

Assessment always requires a multi-method approach, as individual tests do not directly provide the information needed to draw conclusions, let alone make important choices. However, it should be kept in mind that the tasks are only one part of the assessment and that real expertise is required in relating the results of the assessment to the criteria of the job description and in forming an objective overall picture of the subject to be assessed.

A good assessor will be able to distinguish between factors that may have influenced the performance of the tasks and, through a variety of methods, form a broader view of the person’s behaviour and personality in relation to the job description criteria.

For example, many of the quick tests are based on personality types, described by different combinations of letters or colours. However, the current perception of personality is that there are personality continuums. For example, a person is not introverted or extraverted, but their behaviour can be more typically one of these extremes, depending very much on the situation and context. Personality is a continuum and cannot be categorised – for example, none of us is fully social or withdrawn, fully detailed or fully generous. This situational specificity is less considered in some assessments, and needs to be taken into account when considering the predictive value of the assessment and its reliability. The influence of situational factors is crucial and should be identified in the assessment.

In order to avoid misjudgements, psychology, multi-methodology and objectivity are key. We hope that these tips will make it easier to pay attention to the different quality indicators for psychological aptitude assessments.

Any questions that came to mind? Contact us, soila.porkamaa@avila.fi & minna.utriainen@avila.fi

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Minna Utriainen
040 162 7511
minna.utriainen[at]avila.fi

Soila Porkamaa
040 359 0585
soila.porkamaa[at]avila.fi

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