Personality Tests Adapt to the Times

Article excerpt

EMPLOYEE TESTING

An award earned recently by scientists at assessment firm PreVisor highlights the emergence of a new form of online personality tests.

Computer adaptive personality tests, advocates say, offer the promise of shorter, more secure, more accurate assessments for hiring and promotion purposes. The online personality tests, which are designed to change depending on each test taker's answers, build on years of research in computer adaptive tests for cognitive skills, says Steve Reise, professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"It's pretty cutting edge," Reise says. "It's an exciting idea."

Exciting enough to win PreVisor scientists this year's M. Scott Myers Award for applied research in the workplace from the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psycholog)'. The society is honoring a team of scientists at the Atlanta-based firm for their work developing and validating computer adaptive personality assessments.

PreVisor announced the award in mid-January, though the society will officially bestow the honor at its annual conference in April.

Tests measuring personality traits such as openness and conscientiousness are used to help predict performance in many jobs. They are the most popular type of pre-employment assessments, ahead of both skills testing and cognitive ability testing, according to a survey last year by consulting firm Rocket-Hire.

The use of more traditional assessments in employment has come under scrutiny in light of a Supreme Court case last year. In Rìcci v. DeStefano, the high court ruled that in discarding tests for fear the results would make it vulnerable to a lawsuit by minority employees, the City of New Haven, Connecticut, violated the civil rights of other employees. …