A work sample is a selection test wherein the job applicant’s ability to do a small portion of the job is tested. Work sample tests are of two types; Motor, involving physical manipulation of things (e.g., trade tests for carpenters, plumbers, electricians) or Verbal, involving problem situations that are primarily language-oriented or people-oriented (e.g., situational tests for supervisory jobs).
Since work samples are miniature replicas of actual job requirements, they are difficult to fake. They offer concrete evidence of the proficiency of an applicant as against his ability to do the job. However, work-sample tests are not cost-effective, as each candidate has to be tested individually. It is not easy to develop work samples for each job. Moreover, it is not applicable to all levels of the organisation. For managerial jobs, it is often not possible to develop a work sample test that can take one of all the full range of managerial abilities.
The simulation exercise is a test which duplicates many of the activities and problems an employee faces while at work. Such exercises are commonly used for hiring managers at various levels in an organisation. To assess the potential of a candidate for managerial positions, assessment centres are commonly used. Assessment centre: An assessment centre is an extended work sample. It uses procedures that incorporate group and individual exercises. These exercises are designed to simulate the type of work which the candidate will be expected to do. Initially a small batch of applicants come to the assessment centre (a separate room). Their performance in the situational exercises is observed and evaluated by a team of 6 to 8 trained assessors. The assessors’ judgements on each exercise are compiled and combined to have a summary rating for each candidate being assessed. The assessment centre approach, thus, evaluates a candidate’s potential for management on the basis of multiple assessment techniques, standardised methods of making inferences from such techniques, and pooled judgements from multiple assessors.
Initially a small batch of applicants come to the assessment centre (a separate room). Examples of the simulated exercises based on real-life, included in a typical assessment centre are as follows:
1. In-basket: Here the candidate is faced with an accumulation of reports, memos, letters and other materials collected in the in-basket of the simulated job he is supposed to take over. The candidate is asked to take necessary action within a limited amount of time on each of these materials, say, by writing letters, notes, agendas for meetings, etc. The results of the applicant’s actions are then reviewed by the evaluators. In-baskets are typically designed to measure oral, and written communication skills, planning, decisiveness, initiative and organisation skills.
2. Leaderless Group Discussion (LGD): This exercise involves groups of managerial candidates working together on a job-related problem. The problem is generally designed to be as realistic as possible and is tackled usually in groups of five or six candidates. A leader is not designated for the group, but one usually emerges in the course of the group
interaction. Two or more assessors typically observe the interaction as the group tries to reach consensus on a given problem. The LGD is used to assess dimensions such as oral communication, tolerance for stress, adaptability, self-confidence, persuasive ability etc. 3. Business games: Here participants try to solve a problem, usually as members of two or more simulated companies that are competing in the marketplace. Decisions might include how to advertise and produce, how to penetrate the market, how much to keep in stock, etc. Participants thereby exhibit planning and organisational abilities, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities. Business games may be simple (focussing on very specific activities) or complex models of complete organisational systems. 4. Individual presentations: Participants are given a limited amount of time to plan, organise and prepare a presentation on an assigned topic. This exercise is meant to assess the participant’s oral communication skill, self-confidence, persuasive abilities, etc. 5. Structured interview: Evaluators ask a series of questions aimed at the participant’s level of achievement, motivation, potential for being a ‘self-starter’ and commitment to the company.
Evaluation of Assessment Centre Technique
The assessment centre technique has a number of advantages. The flexibility of form and content, the use of a variety of techniques, standardised ways of interpreting behaviour and pooled assessor judgements account for its acceptance as a valuable selection tool for managerial jobs. It is praised for content validity and wide acceptance in corporate circles. By providing a realistic job preview, the technique helps a candidate make an appropriate career choice. The performance ratings are more objective in nature and could be readily used for promotion and career development decisions. However, the method is expensive to design and administer. Blind acceptance of assessment data without considering other information on candidates (the past and current performance) is always inadvisable.
1. Siemens India: It uses extensive psychometric instruments to evaluate short-listed candidates. The company uses occupational personality questionnaire to understand the candidate’s personal attributes and occupational testing to measure competencies. 2. LG Electronics India: LG Electronics uses 3 psychometric tests to measure a person’s ability as a team player, to check personality types and to ascertain a person’s responsiveness and assertiveness. 3. Arthur Anderson:While evaluating candidates, the company conducts critical behavioural interviewing which evaluates the suitability of the candidate for the position, largely based on his past experience and credentials.