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According to Krilowicz and Lowery (1996), “the determining force behind the effectiveness of an organization is the quality of its human resources” (p. 55). The personality tests are the techniques that enable organizations to make a reasonable decision regarding the employee selection and, therefore, they are beneficial to a significant extent.
According to research findings, personality affects the job performance and work productivity significantly (Krilowicz & Lowery, 1996, p. 55). The interest towards the pre-employment personality testing is continuously growing. By uncovering the personal traits of a potential employee, the organizations attempt to increase the overall organizational performance and achieve the long-term positive financial results.
Any job implies the individual’s ability to fulfill particular tasks and duties both physically and mentally. In this way, the individual differences make some people more appropriate for working in the position of the security guard than others.
Along with the job interviews, the organizations commonly implement various instruments for assessment of personal skills and knowledge of the future employees. Personality testing provides evidence supporting or disapproving individual’s self-presentation and makes managerial decision-making more valid. It may be regarded as the main strength of the personality testing in the employee selection process.
According to Bouton and Moore (2011), “the most ominous business concern of using the wrong assessment is the risk of discrimination litigation” (p. 144). First of all, the testing and personality assessment instruments must meet the legal regulations, and they must ensure that the choice is made in correspondence with the principles of equality and ethics.
The limitations of personality testing are also related to the fact that testing allows analyzing the personal traits on the surface level and doesn’t necessarily help to predict the patterns of the individual’s behavior development in the future (Goffin et al., 2011, p. 646).
The development of the personality testing criteria is essential to the receiving of reliable and valid testing results. The employee selection criteria are usually based on organizational values, missions, and visions, and the traditional job requirements (Bouton & Moore, 2011, p. 145).
A potential employee is expected to be able to execute the job-related tasks and fulfill the necessary responsibilities. In their research, Bouton and Moore (2011) recommend using “a suite of three instruments including a behavioral assessment, a motivation or values instrument, and a judgment style piece” because they were found to be very precise and based on reasoning (p. 145).
One of the most frequently used personality assessment instruments in the working settings is the TEA Personality Test that is represented in the questionnaire format (Arribas-Aguila, 2011, p. 121).
According to the findings of the Spanish researchers, the TEA Test’s psychometric properties are characterized by a high level of “construct validity, factorial solution fitness,” and reliability (Arribas-Aguila, 2011, p. 121). According to the research findings, the TEA subtests’ reliability values were ranged from 0.55 to 0.86 Cronbach’s alpha, and the given coefficients were higher than the coefficients reported in the test’s technical manual (Arribas-Aguila, 2011, p. 123).
Despite the fact that personality assessment is proved to be helpful in employee selection process, some researchers claim that personality and behavioral measures have low levels of reliability and validity (Morgeson et al., 2007, p. 1032).
“Scores on personality inventories are likely to be correlated with a number of variables that are of interest to organizational researchers;” although the scores may be relevant for investigation of employees’ behavior within the organizations, they are considered to be “poor predictors of criteria such as job performance and are difficult to justify as the basis for making high-stakes decisions about individuals” (Morgeson et al., 2007, p. 1032).
It is also observed that the correlations between the working performance and personality measures estimated through the meta-analysis remained consistently low. Therefore, Morgeson and colleagues (2007) recommend the organizational managers to take the low validity levels into consideration during the application of the personality testing, interpretation of scores, and the decision-making.
Projective and Objective Tests
In the personality assessment practice, the tests are divided into two major groups: objective and projective. According to Meyer and Kurtz (2006), “the term objective typically refers to instruments in which the stimulus is an adjective, proposition, or question that is presented to a person who is required to indicate how accurately it describes his or her personality using a limited set of externally provided response options” (p. 223).
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The instruments of objective personality testing include multiple-answer questionnaires (yes/no, true/false), Likert scale, and others. The given instruments are called objective because their interpretation and analysis are not dependent on the personal judgment that implies a high level of subjectivity.
In objective tests, the answers are scored according to the preliminarily established patterns (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223). The interpretation of objective tests is based on the comparison with the related previous normative results, and it is the examiner’s responsibility to identify the extent to which the assessed personality matches the normative characteristics.
“The term projective typically refers to instruments in which the stimulus is a task or activity that is presented to a person who is required to generate a response with minimal external guidance or constraints imposed on the nature of that response” (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223). The lack of external guidance in the projective tests implies the presence of ambiguity in the way the test’s questions are formed. Through answering such ambiguous questions, an individual reveals his/her personal traits.
According to the idealistic understanding of the concept of objective test, the results received through the application of this method must be characterized by excellent reliability and accuracy rates. The term of objective test substantially excludes the biasing effects and misinterpretation of scores.
However, in practice scoring and interpretation errors occur frequently and become a concern of multiple research studies. Moreover, the “frank distortion” in answering the questions leads to misinterpretation of scores and reduction of test’s objectivity and level of precision (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223).
In the projective tests, it is expected that a person will project her personal traits and features through response to the specifically designed situations and conditions. However, not all the testing instruments that are meant as projective necessarily meet the requirements of the term.
For example, according to Meyer and Kurtz (2006), “responses to the Rorschach inkblots often have more to do with stimulus classification and problem solving styles than to projection” (p. 224). Rorschach’s test is also characterized by a high level of response variability and complexity that may interfere with the successful interpretation of the scores.
According to Sartori (2010), the personality tests may be divided into two groups according to their internal characteristics of efficiency and aesthetics (p. 757). “Projective techniques seem more beautiful, mysterious, interesting and attractive (aesthetic assessment), while psychometric tests seem more credible, transparent, repeatable, liable to falsification and scientific (efficacy assessment)” (Sartori, 2010, p. 757).
According to the investigation of the face validity (extent to which the test seem to be valid to the participants) of both tests, from the overall sample of 238 individuals, the projective tests were preferred by 124 examinees while the objective (psychometric) tests were chosen by 38 people (Sartori, 2010, p. 758). The participants of the study found projective tests such as Rorschach’s test more attractive and curious and believed that these tests can reveal their personality more effectively.
The psychological testing may be extremely useful for the selection of the security forces personnel because it can allow organizations to avoid the undesirable results through prediction of the individual’s performance and behavior. According to Forero, Gallardo-Pujol, Maydeu-Olivares, and Andrés-Pueyo (2009), “the Five Factor personality model” that is used “as a communication tool between professionals on personality results” helps to predict the multiple dimensions of individual’s performance and abilities (p. 592).
The model allows assessment of such criteria as openness, consciousness, activity, and vulnerability, and through evaluation of the given aspects of individual’s test performance, it is possible to measure and predict his/her behavior in the workplace.
According to Forero and colleagues (2009), the personal traits (openness, positive emotions, vulnerability, etc.) are “important personality factors” for police and security forces’ job performance (p. 593). By focusing on these personality patterns in relation to discipline and personal motivation, it is possible to assess the potential employee’s behavior and level of fitting to the position requirements.
Standardized Personality Tests
According to Barrett and colleagues (2003), the standardized tests that may be implemented in the law enforcement or security selection battery include the Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Clinical Interview, the Personal History Questionnaire, Psychological Inventory, and the 16 Personality Factor (p. 498). According to Forero and colleagues (2009), the given tests are characterized by the adequate reliability and data validity – in a short-term interval, the average test-retest reliability coefficient in the study was 0.83 (p. 593).
The standardized TEA Personality Test may also be included in the employee selection battery. The test is designed to assess the dimensions of emotional stability, openness, and responsibility. The test’s normative data is based on “a representative sample of 15,509 adults in the work context (23.3% males and 76.6% females)” (Arribas-Aguila, 2011, p. 122).
According to American Psychological Association (2016a), one of the purposes of the personality assessment is “increase the accuracy of behavioral prediction in a variety of contexts and settings” (par. 1). However, the efficiency of the assessment procedures depends on the level of psychologist’s competence and knowledge of the tests’ psychometric properties, issues of validity and reliability, limitations, group norms, etc.
According to American Psychological Asscoication’s standard 2.01 “Boundaries of Competence” (2016b), “psychologists provide services, teach and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence” (par. 6). Therefore, it is important to be aware of one’s gaps in knowledge related to personality testing. In case a psychologist doesn’t have sufficient expertise, it is recommended for him/her to refrain from the conduction of test. Otherwise, the scores may be misinterpreted, and the standards of professional behavior will be violated.
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