Assessing soft skills to make better job fit decisions
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Assessing Soft Skills to Make Better Job Fit Decisions:. An Exploration of the Measurement of Personality in the Selection Process. A Presentation for Western Region IPMA-HR April 2008.

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Assessing soft skills to make better job fit decisions

Assessing Soft Skills to Make Better Job Fit Decisions:

An Exploration of the Measurement of Personality in the Selection Process

A Presentation for Western Region IPMA-HR

April 2008

Presented byHoward Fortson, Ph.D., IPMA-CP,Manager, Test RentalShelley Langan,Technical Director, HR Practices


About cps human resource services

About CPS Human Resource Services

CPS is a self- supporting public agency providing a full range of human resource services to the public sector. We have unique expertise in delivering HR management and consulting services, employment testing, assessment services, and applicant tracking software to government agencies throughout North America.

Our mission is to improve the quality of human resource management in the public sector.


Our services

Our Services


Session agenda measuring personality

Session AgendaMeasuring Personality

Covering the basics - Do’s, Don’ts, and Why’s:

  • Measurement theory

  • Legal underpinnings and recognized professional practices

  • Business measures of Personality

  • Determining “good” measures

  • Planning to use a measure of Personality

  • Case study discussion


Three key objectives

Three Key Objectives

  • Please ask questions

  • Share stories and challenges

  • HAVE FUN – Make the most of our time!


Assessing soft skills to make better job fit decisions

Here we go!!


General definition of assessment

General Definition of Assessment

  • The process of collecting and evaluating information about an individual in order to make an employment decision.

    (Gatewood & Feild, 2001)


Need for competent assessment

Need for Competent Assessment

  • Need to identify new pools of qualified candidates

  • The workforce balance tilted

  • Increasing numbers of employees over age 55

  • Lack of qualified employees to fill vacant jobs

  • Loss of experience

    Federal Hiring Series 2004


Need for competent assessment1

Need for Competent Assessment

  • Demographic Trends

    • Boomers retiring

    • Proportion of younger workers shrinking

      • Age 25-44 will decline by 3 million 1998-2008

      • Age 45 and over will increase from 33% to 40%

  • Start thinking about Succession Planning

    Federal Hiring Series 2004

Workforce Planning will be KEY in many organizations


Need for competent assessment2

Need for Competent Assessment

  • Negative Consequences of Poor Assessment Tools Results in

    • Turnover-cost range from 50 to 200 percent of employee’s salary

    • Lost productivity-robust selection procedures tracked 17% increase in productivity

    • Absenteeism - less engaged in their work, more likely to have higher rates of absenteeism

      Federal Hiring Series 2004

The cost of a bad hire can be as much as $100,000 (Cascio)


Professional guidelines

Professional Guidelines

  • Federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures

  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Principles

  • Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing


Need for valid measures

Need for Valid Measures

  • General Definition of Validation

    • “the degree to which accumulated evidence and theory support specific interpretations of test scores entailed by proposed uses of a test”

      (AERA, et. al. 1999, p.184)

Making a selection process job-related and of value…


Validation process

Validation Process

  • Prediction for position success

    • Collect evidence for test score interpretation

    • Document relationship of measures to the job

    • Fill positions with qualified individuals


Measurement theory

Measurement Theory

  • Identify individuals with the qualifications and skill set to successfully perform the job

  • Test predicts job success

  • Measure KSAs Job Fit

    • Typically use an interview for the “gut feel”

  • The question we attempt to answer:

    What does it take to be successful in the job?


Basis of our testing measurement

Basis of our Testing/Measurement

  • Job Analysis Data - Traditionally

    • Abilities

    • Knowledge

    • Skills

    • Competencies

    • Some soft skills


Basis of our testing measurement cont

Basis of our Testing/Measurement (cont.)

  • Job Analysis Data - Emerging

    • Abilities

    • Knowledge

    • Skills

    • Competencies

    • Personality traits and characteristics

      • Motivation

      • Attitude

      • Integrity

      • Conscientiousness

      • Emotional Intelligence

      • Social Intelligence

The Can Do vs. Will Do Syndrome


Business measures of personality

Business Measures of Personality

Overall, business measures of personality have evolved from clinical measures:

  • More technical and unbiased

  • A truing up of interviews and SJTs

  • Identifying and measuring personalitydrivers that predict job success

    Person-Job Fit


Business measures of personality cont

Business Measures of Personality (cont.)

Big Five Based Personality Inventories

Broad Domains

  • I. Surgency (or extraversion)--Talkativeness, assertiveness, activity level vs. silence, passivity and reserve.

  • II. Agreeableness-- kindness, trust, and warmth vs. hostility, selfishness, and distrust

  • III. Conscientiousness--organization, thoroughness, and reliability vs. carelessness, negligence, and unreliability

  • IV. Emotional Stability (vs. Neuroticism)--stability and imperturbability vs. nervousness, moodiness, and temperamentality

  • V. Intellect (openness to experience)--imagination, intelligence and creativity vs. shallowness and imperceptiveness


Examples of available business measures

Examples of Available Business Measures

  • California Personality Inventory (CPI)

  • Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

  • NEO Personality Inventory

  • 16-PF

    Have been used in non-clinical settings for job-related prediction


Overview of available methods

Overview of Available Methods

Brief Overview of Available Personality Tests

  • Secured from a vendor

  • Construct/criterion-based validation

  • Look at fit with position, conscientiousness, integrity, temperament, ethical behavior

  • Scored by vendor - key not released to agencies

  • Give general go/no-go decision information

  • Large number of items (150 plus, short administration time)

  • Generally not time-limited tests; administration times are generally from 30 minutes to over an hour


  • History of personality assessment

    History of Personality Assessment

    • In Hibernation- Guion and Gottier (1965) conclusion that personality variables have little systematic relationship to work related criteria.

    • Project A

      • Use of appropriate focused scales provide valid measurement

      • Provided incremental predictive validity

      • Encouraged researchers to again pursue personality research


    Personality assessment research

    Personality Assessment Research

    • Out of Hibernation:

      • Barrick and Mount (1991) meta-analysis of validities between the Big Five personality variables and job performance

    • Summary by Hough and Oswald (SIOP, in press) shows predicative validity for:

      • Personality and Performance

      • Overall job performance

      • Task performance

      • Training performance, learning, skill acquisition

      • Contextual performance/organizational citizenship

      • Managerial effectiveness

      • Creativity and innovation


    Personality assessment research cont

    Personality Assessment Research (cont.)

    • Personality tests remain useful in selection because they provide incremental validity over cognitive ability, and even modest amounts of validity can translate into significant amounts of utility to the organization when aggregated across individuals.

      Hough & Oswald (SIOP, in press)


    Personality assessment research cont1

    Personality Assessment Research (cont.)

    • Controversy in Personality Assessment

      • Faking good or bad

      • Most studies conducted in a lab

      • Some studies find little or no effect, some find significant effect

      • Social desirability response bias in real employment settings not as large as in directed faking studies(Hough and Oswald, SIOP in press)

      • Still up in the air, more specific research needed


    Value of personality assessment

    Value of Personality Assessment

    • Three factors that make personality measures useful in selection:

      • Provide meaningful correlations with a wide variety of job requirements.

      • Correlate at low levels with cognitive ability

        • Well-researched, sound additive measures to include in a testing process

      • Show incremental validity

      • Little to no adverse impact


    What is a good measure

    What Is a Good Measure

    • Why on-line dating services are not enough…

      -----------------------

    • What is a good measure?

      • Well-researched and developed = sound

      • Validated – tied to predicting job success

    • Planning to use a personality measure in a selection process


    Planning to use a personality assessment

    Planning to Use a Personality Assessment

    Typical process steps:

    • Collect job analysis data

    • Conduct local validation

    • Determine specific measure(s) to use in selection process

    • Integrate into scoring model

      • As part of the hiring interview

      • As a scored, weighted part of the exam process

      • As a pass/fail hurdle in the exam process

  • Prepare for and ensure the security and confidentiality of test results

  • Interpret the test results


  • Scoring model examples using personality tests

    Scoring Model Examples Using Personality Tests

    Where/how can personality measures be integrated in the selection process?


    Questions you should be ready to answer if you use a personality measure

    Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer If You Use a Personality Measure

    Common questions from test takers, supervisors, and managers:

    • Can I take the test again to improve my score?

    • I didn’t do well – does that mean I don’t have a personality?

    • Can I study something to improve my score or prepare for the test?

    • What are the correct answers?

    • May I see the key – how do I know my test was scored correctly?

    • What does personality have to do with doing the job?

    • Who will see my test scores and who will not?

    • How will test performance be reported?


    Assessing soft skills to make better job fit decisions

    Questions/Answers

    Current Challenges/Questions?

    What else can we talk through/explore?

    CPS Human Resource Services:

    Uncommon expertise

    based on a common perspective


    Assessing soft skills to make better job fit decisions

    Resources/ Additional Reading

    • Personality and the Fate of Organizations, Robert Hogan

    • Applied Psychology in Human Resource Management, 6th Edition, Wayne Cascio and Herman Aquinis

    • Assessment, Measurement, and Prediction for Personnel Decisions, Robert M. Guion


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