”We want to be the sector leader in producing intelligent methods for evaluating the selection process,” says psychologist Tim Kolga, who was hired by Ework with the mission of designing these future methodologies. ”Without being aware of it, we often form an opinion of an individual based on criteria that are neither rational nor relevant. They might be appearance, sex or ethnicity. We need to get more accurate in finding the right person for the right assignment —while also minimizing discrimination,” he explains.
The results of appointing people in the traditional way through personal and unstructured interviews are uncertain at best. However, mechanical testing —based on mathematical algorithms — has proven significantly better at selecting the right person for the right assignment.
”It’s controversial because a lot of people think they have very good intuition to judge people’s qualities and abilities. But we’re often attracted by things that are completely irrelevant in terms of delivering an assignment, such as appearance, sex and ethnicity, i.e. factors that mechanical testing completely disregards,” adds Tim.
There have been two schools of thought in evaluation and selection in occupational psychology for several decades. The first is called clinical, holistic or individual evaluation, and the second mechanical, statistical or psychometric evaluation. They differ in how information is translated into a recommendation, which then leads to a selection decision. Holistic evaluation can be defined as assessments of different aspects that an expert considers to be significant in a specific context. The evaluation is intuitive. On the other hand, mechanical evaluation can be viewed as a standard way to measure and then aggregate the aspects research has demonstrated as significant to the selection decision on a statistical basis.
”Research conducted into both methods clearly indicates that mechanical aggregation is far superior when the same information is being evaluated,” notes Tim.
”Utilizing occupational psychological testing and weighing up the results from them on the basis of a predetermined weighting has proven far more accurate when evaluating selection.” The advantage is that it provides unprejudiced information on the candidates with the greatest potential to succeed on a specific assignment,” he continues.
This complexity is highlighted by a quality that a lot of people appreciate and is rated highly by most employers — that an individual is extrovert, which is associated with being successful, a good salesperson and possessing drive. But if you’re looking for a job as a night watchman in a remote location, this could definitely be a disadvantage. A company completely dominated by one personality type also risks becoming an organization where everyone’s heading in the same direction at once,” says Tim.
”There are so many examples of when values and prejudices get people to make the wrong choices, which is why interviews are a blunt instrument,” notes Tim.
Tim Kolga is a psychologist who specializes in organizational development. After working as a consultant for Ework for several years, he has recently taken up employment. His job is based on identifying methodologies and processes that result in valid, accurate, fair, non-discriminatory and cost-effective selection decisions—i.e. more accurate matching between consultants and assignments.
”This is about capturing information and ordering it in terms of relevant criteria, and then interpreting it. The aim is to make evaluation more accurate, so we can make better appointment decisions—in turn producing better work performance, and ultimately, improve the financial results of our organization.”
”It’s also about everyone getting more enjoyment from assignments that their competences are suitable for. So it doesn’t just mean making things better for the client, but also for the consultant,” he continues.
The methodologies and tools Tim is leading the production of build on Internet-based occupational psychological testing.
In the short term, we’ll be working intensively on designing these tests jointly with Ework’s IT function. Technology isn’t the biggest challenge right now—it’s a more about overcoming the resistance of people who are firmly convinced that their gut feel is always right,” he says.