How do big companies use psychometric tests?
Psychological test procedures and test diagnostics
What is a psychological test procedure?
"A psychological test is a scientific routine procedure for examining one or more empirically demarcable personality traits with the aim of making a statement that is as quantitative as possible about the relative degree of individual trait expression." (Lienert and Raatz, 1998)
Psychological tests are scientific procedures that record the properties or characteristics of people, groups of people and organizations and are used alongside other psychodiagnostic procedures. In addition to the psychometric tests, which measure personality traits and form the largest group within the psychological test procedure, there are also qualitative tests in which behavior is provoked, which is then assessed by psychologists, psychotherapists or psychiatrists, for example.
Example: WISC-V complete set
What all test procedures have in common, however, is that certain tasks are set that the test person has to work on. The way in which the tasks are solved allows statements to be made about how the test person is likely to behave in other, real situations and with comparable requirements.
It is estimated that there are around 600 psychological test procedures in German-speaking countries alone. The main areas of psychological test procedures include intelligence diagnostics, personality and development diagnostics, neuropsychological questions and clinical psychology. But psychological test procedures also play a major role in the field of occupational aptitude testing.
What are test procedures used for?
The use of test procedures can have different reasons and serve different purposes.
In the area of psychological counseling, for example, psychological test procedures can provide information about yourself. An important goal of the test application is the choice of the appropriate treatment method, such as helping schoolchildren with spelling difficulties. Treatment progress can also be checked.
Psychological test procedures in the area of personnel selection and personnel development are becoming more and more important. Applicants and employees can be compared with other candidates or colleagues in terms of their skills, for example, to what extent they meet the individual requirements.
What types of test procedures are there?
In psychology, a distinction is made between qualitative (content-related) and quantitative (temporal, proportionate) procedures that can be carried out individually and / or in a group. It is important here, however, that test results only ever lead to statements about partial areas of a person (characteristics, skills, preferred behaviors) in relation to certain questions. For this reason, when developing psychological test procedures, care is taken to ensure that they have been tested and scientifically proven through a large number of tests. Psychological test procedures must successively meet the following quality criteria:
Objectivity: Are the implementation, application and interpretation independent of influences from the examiner or the examination situation?
Reliability (accuracy or reliability): How exactly is the feature measured or are the measurement results too flawed?
Validity: does the procedure measure what it is supposed to measure?
1) Does the method really measure the desired trait (e.g. dyscalculia)?
2) Can a well-founded diagnostic decision with appropriate quality be made on the basis of the measured test value (risk diagnosis for arithmetic disorders in school age)?
In addition to these three main criteria, there are other test quality criteria: utility, test fairness, test economy, transparency and integrity.
Who should use psychological testing?
The implementation, evaluation and interpretation of psychological test procedures may only be carried out by persons or delegated to persons who can demonstrate sufficient qualifications and experience. This is therefore reserved for psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, doctors, special education teachers, etc. Only these specialists, thanks to their training in test theory, have the appropriate knowledge of the individual procedures in order to be able to correctly assess the significance of the results and also to take into account the framework in which the test application and all other information are to be assessed.
Psychological test procedures and their application require appropriate training and regular further training, as new probation controls and test results are constantly being published in the context of psychological research in which these test procedures are developed.
Job-related aptitude diagnostics is an exception. DIN 33430 specifies which requirements users of procedures for professional aptitude diagnostics must meet. A test user can be certified accordingly, which entitles him to use the corresponding procedures. According to DIN 33430, however, he is obliged to comply with defined quality standards. Well-founded knowledge and, if possible, guided practical experience must be proven. Furthermore, reliable knowledge of the existing and available methods and processes as well as their quality and application requirements are necessary. In order to stay up to date with the current state of research, the authorization for certification according to DIN 33430 must be renewed every three years.
What rights does a test person have?
A test person has the right to inspect. A reliable psychologist will explain the individual results and the underlying assessment criteria. The same also applies in the course of machine-carried out and evaluated test procedures.
The test person must be informed in advance about the objective of the investigation, which features are being tested, on whose behalf the investigation is being carried out and who is allowed to access which results.
Only those tests may be carried out that correspond in terms of content and method to the reason for the investigation. There must be a connection between the tested characteristics and the relevant requirements. In companies, for example, the works council must expressly consent to the use of test procedures. The privacy is fundamentally protected. Questions relating to this area are therefore inadmissible. Investigators and those involved in the investigation are subject to statutory confidentiality according to Section 203 of the Criminal Code. Basically, the following applies: Test procedures may only be carried out with the consent of the test person or, in the case of children, with the consent of the parents. The test results may also only be made available to third parties or published after the test person's consent.
How do you protect yourself from false test applications?
Before carrying out a test, you should ask yourself relevant questions and clarify the following points:
- WHO developed the test procedure, WHO carries out the tests and WHO evaluates them?
- WHAT PURPOSE should the test application fulfill?
- Which TARGET GROUP should this test procedure address?
- What are the benefits of taking the test personally?
- Are the TEST RESULTS alone decisive for answering the question?
- Which ALTERNATIVES (e.g. personal interview) are given to the test application?
- WHO also receives the results or has access to them?
- Is CONSULTATION guaranteed regarding the results (if desired)?
In the area of job-related aptitude diagnostics, it is advisable to pay attention to the certification of the test user according to DIN 33430 and to ask about it if necessary. This gives you the guarantee that only a suitably certified and competent test user will carry out the aptitude test, especially in this area.
Whitepaper: Introduction to Standardized Testing for Diagnosticians
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