How can psychometric testing be useful to us in industry?
A South African challenge in psychometric assessment
There are various factors that have placed a greater emphasis on effective selection and development of human resources in a South African context. These factors range from unemployment and equity considerations to rapid occupational change due to technological advancements. This has led to a greater demand on psychological assessment in the organisational setting and by doing so ensuring a significant value is put on assessment that is responsible, ethical and equitable.
Testing in South Africa was for long time viewed in the past as discriminatory and unfair but the perception of psychometric assessment is slowly changing. Sound assessment is extremely useful for the use of measuring individuals and practitioners are becoming aware of its advantages. The improvements of these psychometric tests have led to the implementation of cross-culturally fair tests. Psychometric assessment in the workplace is used to measure the performance and potential of current and future employees through the use of selection and performance management respectively.
In the present the South African business sector faces multiple challenges in respect to the use psychological test, adaptation and development. There are various challenges that practitioners have to face including ethical and legal issues in psychological assessment. Legal issues include changes in the legislation i.e. the South African Employement Equity Act 55 of 1998 and a labour market that is transforming after 1994. There is a greater emphasis put significance of appropriate psychometric properties for psychological testing and the importance that is placed on the validity and equity in these assessments.
The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, Section 8 states that ‘Psychological tests and other similar assessments are prohibited unless test or assessment used (a) scientifically shown as reliable and valid (b) can be applied fairly to all employees; and (c) is not biased against any employee and group’.
Due to the act there are various challenges that are unique for South African companies. One of the challenges for organisations is that of employee selection and the testing of candidates during the selection process. The act requires that psychometric testing used for organisational selection of candidates that are potential employees to be shown as valid and reliable. Organisations need to make reliability and validity a prerequisite for fairness in the selection of future employees.
In South Africa where the country is extremely multi cultural organiations need to pay careful attention to the instruments that they use during the selection process, as even though the test may be valid for one group of individuals it is not valid for another group. Reliability varies across different groups of culture and the organisations needs to make sure that the psychometric testing does not hinder the performance of certain groups. In order to arrive at a fair and equitable assessment, psychological tests are normally not used in isolation but they are used as part of an extensive assessment arsenal.