No one wants to hire a raving lunatic. But how do you identify a potential crazy — or just plain unreliable employee — before he or she actually starts foaming at the mouth? One answer is the psychometric — personality measuring — test.
The PERSONA GRATA center for corporate technologies has started to run a series of seminars aiming to teach HR managers how to assess employees and select staff according to the company’s standards and needs.
The style of carrying out business has changed in Russia and so a need to develop and implement different methods of staff assessment has arisen, said Yelena Rakhaeva, a Persona Grata psychologist who lead the opening seminar on March 14. Clear selection criteria are essential in order to insure that the right person be appointed, she added.
She also noted that information needed to select staff can be obtained through a series of tests held during a job interview. Such tests create the opportunity to assess the job seeker’s skills, his ability to adapt to new situations, learn quickly and his communication skills among other things.
Rakhaeva is a graduate of the department of medical psychology at Moscow State University. She is a specialist in the use of psychometric testing methods for staff selection and assessment.
The system of assessment was born in America and began to be used there in the 1960s. In the U.S.S.R., these tests were used in psychiatry and were adapted later for use in commercial operations about 15 years ago, she said, adding that there are a great number of tests, the most widely applied being psychogeometrical, biographical and Lusher and Kettell tests.
People possess basic personality traits that don’t change during their lives, according to Rakhaeva; these make the biographical test useful — basically a conversation with the candidate about his or her past, including discussions about family, education and work experience.
The test used most often in companies is the Kettell test, she said. This is a multiple-choice test consisting of 187 questions, each of which has three possible answers. The candidate’s choice of answer supplies valuable information about him or her, experts say.
As an alternative to the question-and-answer test format, there are psychometric tests that use an applicant’s choice of shapes or colors as a psychological indicator. One of these is the psychogeometrical test. Five shapes (a triangle, circle, square, wave and rectangle, representing leadership, goodwill, administrative ability, creativity and instability, respectively) are shown to a candidate, who is required to arrange them in an order of his or her choice. Testers look out for a triangle placed in first position, as this is the sign of leadership ability.
Another test of this type is the Lusher test, liked by HR managers because it is considered to be the easiest and quickest way to get information about an applicant. In this test, a candidate is asked to place eight colors — blue, green, red, yellow, violet, brown, black and gray — in a sequence. With the help of this test, an HR manager can assess a candidate’s character traits: how strongly she desires to be successful; her sociability; desire to make favorable impressions on people; and whether the candidate is physically and emotionally balanced, among others.
Another sort of employee assessment method is the McKinley test. This assessment is what Rakhaeva calls "the methods of multifactor person’s investigation." It consists of 387 questions with yes-no answers. It reveals whether a candidate’s psychological state is within the boundaries of a normal, balanced personality.
Having obtained the results of the three tests, an HR manager faces the task of constructing a portrait of the candidate from them.
HR managers present at the seminar, where the test procedures mentioned above were discussed, agreed on the importance of psychometric tests, but noted the need to analyze the results properly. "It is very important to assess a candidate correctly," said a representative at a Russian telecom company. "Once, as a result of a lack of experience in the interpretation of test results, I carried out an assessment incorrectly. But it was an isolated instance and I now employ these tests without problems."
It is therefore essential that HR mangers have as much knowledge as possible in order to apply these tests successfully, making it necessary to participate in seminars to keep up to date. "I am going to participate in all the seminars I can to extend my ability to use psychometric tests," said Yelena Proskurina, HR manager at Invakorp Pharma.