The Relative Validity of Assessment Methods … when assessing potential

November 15th, 2010 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

Assessing potential talent and managing this process within organisations is vital to business success, but how do we know which methods of assessment are able to produce robust and valid results?

As Occupational Psychologists and HR Professionals our knowledge and experiences help us to determine which assessments are appropriate to apply. However the Zircon model provided above, neatly demonstrates how certain we can be about the validity of assessments used to measure potential talent.

The green triangle represents a measurement of validity; therefore the base of the triangle represents the greatest amount, whereas the tip of the triangle represents the least amount of validity.

The different methods of assessment are then placed upon the triangle according to the degree of validity they possess.

Observed assessments have very high validity when assessing potential. For example, role plays directly reflect real-life situations relevant to the candidate’s job role. Therefore, the candidate actually does what they would do instead of saying what they would do.

Psychometric Tested (measuring ability or aptitude) are the next best form of assessment in terms of its strength of validity. The objectivity of psychometric tests, being administered in controlled setting, ensures validity remains high. However, psychometric tests have less validity than direct observation because the test condition is removed from the everyday experiences of the job role.

Reported or interview measures of potential have slightly less validity than observation-based assessments or psychometric tests. For example, interviews require individuals to report aspects of their behaviour, yet the accuracy of this may be poor. Unlike observation-based assessments, interviewees only say what they would do instead of actually doing it.

Inferred measures of potential have the least validity out of all the assessments. Personality questionnaires are examples of inferred measures. The problem with this is that personality is not a direct measure of potential, instead we can only infer from the results the individual’s level of potential.

For this reason we prefer a multi-faceted approach to assessing potential that covers observed, Tested, reported and Inferred evidence.

The model also includes 360 performance measures to inform the current performance of the individuals and therefore the validity of assessments. Therefore, when considered holistically, the model enables us to be flexible in our approach to assessing talent, allowing the methods to be used simultaneously to increase the quality of assessment.

For further information about our potential and performance model of talent, please contact the Head Office 01737 555 862.

Written by Melissa Tyson, Occupational Psychologist, 15th November 2010.

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