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The Forum > Article Comments > Shonky psychometric tests kill potential careers > Comments

Shonky psychometric tests kill potential careers : Comments

By Malcolm King, published 29/5/2013

The MBTI's is so overwhelmingly unscientific, it has no practical use at all and is hardly more meaningful than your star sign.

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This is an important subject. It is perhaps a pity that Malcolm King's credible critique of HR promises, assertions and generally shonky practices is not backed up here with hard evidence, but perhaps he does that elsewhere.

When I was a manager back in those 'dark ages', the emerging HR philosophy was to encourage line managers to ‘own’ their key people processes like recruitment, performance and reward. Back then, ‘HR’ was a new piece of jargon (presumably it had arrived from the USA – I was too wet behind the eyes to notice), replacing the traditional term ‘personnel’. Encouragement was certainly needed because most managers saw performance management as their most onerous and unpleasant duty, especially when bad news was involved.

But it wasn’t too long before the HR professionals decided that line managers were actually too dumb to be left with those tasks. And of course industrial relations had become so complex that the knowledge needed was too difficult for most managers to acquire. They were happy to hand the whole HR shebang back to their HR people and professional recruitment firms.

Did that work? Do recruiters, or their computers (yes, most recruitment firms now use programs to search resumes in order to reject a large chunk of the flood of applicants each job advertisement attracts) now present their clients with the best candidates? If the answers were ‘yes’ one could forgive the unscientific selection practices Malcolm King criticises. But from what I hear recruitment remains the riskiest investment a business makes. Of course you won’t get that from the HR profession.

Keep stirring Malcolm.
Posted by Tombee, Wednesday, 29 May 2013 9:14:31 AM
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Very interesting article.

Oh, jeeez, not more "tried and true" methodologies without any empirical basis.

"..if psychometric tests were 'kosher' then why would organisations such as the Institute of Psychometric Coaching in Australia, offer applicants coaching to improve their aptitude, personality and psychometric test results?"

Interesting questions indeed--particularly in reference to the promise to "improve" aptitude by coaching, either the testers or some of the coaching organisations are selling snake oil, or perhaps both.
Posted by mac, Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:42:11 AM
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The adoption of the insulting, American, exploitative term "human resources" in place of "personnel" (i.e. about actual people) set the scene for the useless "profession" based on it, a subset of the managerialist revolution (see John K. Galbraith's books).

Productive, wealth-creating work consists of personally creating real goods and services for the community. Managing the productive work of others - beyond the barest minimum carried out by line managers who are themselves contributing with their own hands and brains to the direct wealth-producing process - puts production in a straitjacket and adds a colossal burden to the organisation's budget.

The growth of a self-serving "profession" of management (per se) is especially pernicious in essentially government-run institutions (like universities) but the managerialists' tentacles also worm their way into corporate private business in which management, not the shareholders and certainly not the producers, exercises primary decision-making power. The managerial plunder of privately owned business is especially notorious in the extravagant bonus system in banking. What sort of psychological profiles for recruits would that lot be seeking?
Posted by EmperorJulian, Wednesday, 29 May 2013 11:31:24 AM
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Have a look at James Burnham's take on managerialism and the reliance on slavish adherence to process as the primary performance metric.

I was unemployed for a little while at the beginning of last year after I closed my business, so of course I sent lots of applications flitting about. I didn't receive a single offer of an interview from any of the applications I sent to recruitment agencies or that were directed to corporate HR and only a couple bothered to send me anything to tell me I'd been unsuccessful. That was around 40 applications across a month or so, for jobs that I was well qualified to perform. In the absence of information from the relevant parties, I have assumed that my age (49 at the time) and my lengthy record of self-employment were the main reasons they weren't interested.

However, in every single application which was not handled by a HR person I was offered an interview and I ended up with my choice of jobs. I was told by several of those I met that they had wanted to meet me because I have an unusual CV, which they found intriguing.

It seems to me that the difference is simple: HR people are looking for compliance with a set of specifications they have derived from the instructions they have received, while the second group is looking for people who can deliver outcomes.
Posted by Antiseptic, Thursday, 30 May 2013 3:19:26 AM
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The behavioural sciences, which include Psychology (how individuals think), Social Psychology (how societies think), Sociology (how groups of people think) and Psychiatry (the study of abnormal cognitive thinking) have long been regarded with some amusement by their more hard evidence thinking peers in the scientific world. They regard the practitioners of these sciences as more the as more the practitioners of "the Black Arts" than the practitioners of Science.

However, the behavioural sciences are sciences.

And the accurate measurement of human intelligence by the cognitive metricians through intelligence tests, has been accepted as valid by governments, corporations, and universities everywhere.

Entry into "Ivy League" Stanford University in the USA is not through success in state mandated school examinations, it is through the assessment of high intelligence through the Stanford Admittance Test (SAT test). This test is considered superior to normal testing as its results can not be subjectively assessed by examiners, who may have wildly differing concepts as to what constitutes a high or low mark in subjects where a subjective assessment is the only way to mark a paper.

Historically, intelligence tests have consistently proven that those people who have been assessed as having high intelligence usually become high achievers, while those measured with poor levels of intelligence, almost always do not.

The behavioural sciences have on the nose and under attack by the Socialist Humanitarian Left because the findings of the cognitive metricians have proven that the racial theory of absolute equality in intelligence between the races in invalid. The publication of that monumental scientific work "The Bell Curve" by the the eminent behavioural scientists Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein had them all hopping around in self righteous apoplexy.

Hee hee hee.
Posted by LEGO, Thursday, 30 May 2013 5:59:35 AM
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One of the great problems of psychometric tests is not the tests themselves, which in general terms proport to have insight in to how we think (good luck with that), but the fact they are conducted by HR people.

As Oscar Wilde said about fox hunting, it's the pursuit of the unspeakable after the uneatable. HR and recruiters in general will clutch at any straws to try shore up their position with a client. They will even charge the client more to run a battery of invalid and unreliable psychological profiles on candidates, produce the meaningless results and stand back proudly and say "here's the bill."

In these financially tight times, employers should fall back to that old fashioned and reliable position and use their own nous. Give both recruiters and their psychobabble tests the heave ho - and save a mint.
Posted by Cheryl, Thursday, 30 May 2013 8:37:27 AM
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