How do you know when someone is right for the job? Is it their glowing resume or their interesting and witty answers to your interview questions? Maybe they are related to the CFO? If the job is very well defined and easy to observe, like driving a forklift, the best way is probably to ask them to perform some skilled tasks such as stacking pallets. But for management and executive roles, which require a complex mix of cognitive and collaborative capabilities, such simulations are difficult to design and deliver, therefore selecting candidates for these roles is more difficult.
Surely, selecting candidates for job roles is such a common occurrence that it can’t possibly be the subject of rigorous scientific study? Well actually, it has been. Industrial and Organizational Psychologists have been comparing different approaches for selecting candidates since the 1950s. The most significant area of development around candidate assessment research has been the use of meta-analytic studies1. These have hugely increased the confidence in the validity of selection methods. Meta-analytic studies use statistical methods to pull together a range of research findings from lots of different studies in order to create a clear, integrated picture of what the overall research presents. These studies remove the impact of sampling errors, range restrictions and measurement unreliability. The results of these assessment and selection meta-studies show that psychometric testing is much more powerful than originally thought. In fact, these studies tell us that psychometrics are the most objective and reliable method of selection for the recruitment of individuals because it is able to predict their performance and the amount of support they may need in their role.