In this session we will explore the following:
1. How to conduct a psychometric test administration session
Previously you were introduced to the importance of ensuring that every test administration session that you run remains the same in order to ensure consistency and hence reliability. By not adhering to this and by not being standardised in your test administration, you run the ultimate risk of invalidating the whole process because reliability is a precursor to validity. So this means that the company purchasing the tests has wasted money at the very least. Worse still however is the fact that many candidates may not see the process as fair (leading to problems in attracting applicants in the future) and likewise, the law in some countries may take issue with the way tests were administered leading perhaps to a bias in the process for one group compared to another. Given this, the following will discuss what is required to ensure you conduct a good, reliable psychometric test administration session.
Firstly, you need to be prepared!
Here is a list of things you need in order to be fully prepared:
1. Find and book an appropriate room. One that is large enough for the group of assessees and one which is in a quiet area. Ensure that on the day there will not be any nearby noise such as construction noise. Ensure that there are no fire drills planned. Consider the room temperature – make sure there is enough time for the room to cool down or heat up to a comfortable temperature before the assessment starts. Layout the room as per regular ‘exam conditions’ whereby desks are separated from each other.
2. Prepare a timetable for the day and send this out to candidates with their invitation letter (which we covered previously). Often, psychometric testing forms only part of a day-long series of assessments, that’s why a timetable is critical.
3. If you are using paper-based assessments, don’t forget to order the right quantity from the publisher or test distributor in good time before the session. We advise you do this at least 2 weeks before the day of assessment to allow for shipping.
4. Whether you are using paper-based or online tests, you must familiarise yourself with the tests and their instructions. Ensure that you fully understand the process of administering the tests. You don’t need to understand the questions in the test, but you do need to know each aspect of the process of administration with the specific test(s) you are using. You need to know when to pass each item (e.g., question booklet, answer sheet) to the candidate and when to collect it back in. You must also know how long each timed test lasts and have a stopwatch to assist with accurate timing. Also have some rough paper so that you can write down the time the test started. This helps if the stopwatch fails – you’ll know “roughly” when to stop the session. However we want 100% accuracy in the session, so let’s hope this backup is not required.
5. Ensure that you have the correct ratio of qualified test administrators to candidates. The best practice ration is 1:10. So for a room of 50 candidates you need 5 test qualified administrators. One administrator can just about keep their eye on 10 candidates, that’s why it would go against best practice to have only one or two administrators ensuring a room of 50 candidates do not cheat by looking at each other’s work or continuing with the test beyond the time limit.
6. Prepare a test log. This is sheet of paper upon which you will record events that happen during the session. The events range from the ordinary (i.e., 25 question booklets handed out and 25 returned or, test started at 3pm and finished at 3.25pm) to the less expected (i.e., candidate 34 reported that she has dyslexia).
Introducing the Psychometric Test Session to Candidates
Be friendly but professional. Introduce yourself and your role. Then go on to cover everything that you previously covered in your invitation letter to your candidates. This will include:
a) Why are we here today
b) Brief description of the assessments candidates are about to undertake
c) Reason why we are using psychometric tests (i.e., they are objective predictors of work performance)
d) How the tests fit into the overall process of selection or development (they should only be part of the process)
e) How long today’s session will last in total
f) What will happen after today’s session (e.g., you will hear from us within 7 days)
g) When feedback on test results will be given
h) A commitment that the results will remain confidential and be used only for this current purpose
i) Then ask candidates if they have any questions so far and thank them for agreeing to take the tests
j) Continuing with the introduction, convey any special emergency/fire instructions to candidates – this is a legal requirement for public gatherings in many countries.
k) Tell candidates where the washrooms are and that if they need to use them, a good time would be right now as they shouldn’t leave the room once the assessment commences and if they do, they certainly won’t get additional time! Also remind them that they may need their reading glasses to complete the assessments and if they left them outside, now is also a good time to go and get them!
At this point, people may have left the room for a couple of minutes following your advice. Once everybody has reassembled, continue with the more formal part of the test administration session. At this point you will refer to the publisher’s official instruction card. The publisher expects you to read the instructions and hand out/collect materials in exactly the same way and order presented here for consistency (and therefore reliability).
l) Tell candidates that you will now read from the test instructions and that this may make you sound a little more robotic for the next few minutes and that the reason you are doing this is to ensure that everybody gets the same instructions every time this test is administered. Ask them to listen very carefully to the instructions.
m) Read the instructions word for word. Ensure that you pause in the right places. Ensure that you hand out materials when told to do so. There are usually example questions which you will need to ask the candidates to complete. Do so and allow them a few minutes to complete. During this time you can walk around ensuring that they are completing the correct section of the answer sheet and are looking at the correct section of the question booklet. Correct anybody who is not but do not correct their answers until the example question time is up for all. Then you’ll need to go through the example question answers with candidates. At this stage you’ll be reading from the instructions. Do not go into lengthy explanations with candidates about why they may have got the answer wrong. Simply tell them not to worry, to do their best and remind them that the test in only part of the process.
o) If you are administering a personality questionnaire, remember to tell the candidates that there are no right or wrong answers – you are who you are! Tell them that personality assessments are used to assess candidate fit with the organisation and are more scientific and objective than interviews. Ask them to be honest and open and tell them that it is usually the first answer them comes to their mind which is most accurate; so do not spend too long deliberating over each question. Some candidates may say that they think their personality is different at work compared with home. Simply ask them to answer from a work perspective. Tell candidates that the test is untimed but that most people take around X minutes to complete.
p) Now it’s time for final questions. Ask candidates if they have any and answer them as best you can. It’s a good idea to consider possible questions before starting the sessions. We’ve put a few together here with answers:
p) That’s it, now it’s time to test. So, as per your instructions, ask candidates to turn over the page and begin. If you’re administering an aptitude/ability test, remember to start your stopwatch at that point and then write down the time the test started as an independent time check. Now you need to walk around the room adjudicating. Don’t answer any more questions – candidates need to concentrate now. If they need replacement pencils/rough paper, fine, but no talking of any kind! Check candidates are on the right page and responding to questions in the correct section of the answer sheet. If not, correct them quietly.
q) As soon as time is up, call “STOP” or whatever is mentioned in your instructions. For personality assessments, wait until everybody has finished. For aptitude tests, ensure that all pencils are placed on desks as soon as you call time. A candidate who continues beyond time can increase their score unfairly and invalidate the process!
r) Collect all materials in the order instructed by the publisher and remember to note down in your test log everything that comes back. You must also collect all rough paper from candidates. This is because they may have written questions down on the paper and now those questions may get leaked out of the testing room – this would obviously invalidate the test.
s) Once you have ensured that all materials were returned, you may close the session as follows:
- Thank candidates for attending
- For aptitude tests, reassure them that they are supposed to be difficult and designed so that not everybody completes all questions
- Remind candidates that everything will remain confidential
- Remind candidates about the feedback session
- Remind candidates about the next part of the selection or development process
- Ask them if they have any final questions
- Thank them all again and then dismiss them
Sticking to these guidelines and the publisher’s test administration instructions will help to ensure consistency in your administration sessions. As you know, this means higher reliability and hence you uphold the validity of the test.
Interested in learning more about psychometric testing for HRM? Keep reading – your next free session is not far away! To ensure you don’t miss a single instalment, we suggest you follow-us on twitter as each new post will be announced there. You may also like to join our face-to-face psychometric training courses in Singapore or Hong Kong – these range from simple introductory courses through to Certification Courses such as the BPS Level A and BPS Level B Certificates of Competence in Occupational Testing. Not in Singapore or Hong Kong? No problem – we also offer both recorded and live online training in psychometrics! For full details please see here or email us.
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