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  • Eva Dvořáková

I’m not crazy! My boss had me tested | Part 1

Let’s set the scene: I’m standing at the front of a long desk in a meeting room at an unnamed organization. Around the table, there are six neatly dressed people. They have expectation written in their faces. Next to me, the head of the HR department. On the desk in front of me, a pile of forms. “Hello everyone,” announces the HR manager. “Thank you all for coming today to attend the Assessment Centre. Let me introduce Eva. She’s a PSYCHOLOGIST [a conspiratorial smirk], and she’ll be working with you today. So, I’ll leave you to it!”


He leaves.


The expectation in the faces transforms into uncertainty, uneasiness, suspicion…


Here we go.

More and more organizations are using personality assessment and ability testing. Also, why not? There are many good, easy to use tools that can provide priceless information on their candidates and employees. That’s why you can come across various questionnaires and tests when looking for a new job or participating in a talent development program at your work.

Going through a personality assessment or ability testing is often challenging. After all, even if it’s primarily work related it still has this intimate side that can make you cringe a bit. You’re revealing a lot of personal information God knows whom. Have you ever wondered if you’re being treated according to proper standards?


Here you have some basic signs that you’re being treated fairly.


Communication

Unsurprisingly, open and transparent communication is the key. Being treated correctly in an assessment situation equals being provided with all the essential information. It's helpful when you understand what’s going to happen, when, where, and why. The assessment situation is causing a certain level of stress by itself. You don’t need to feel uneasy because you weren’t provided the necessary information. Also, when you ask for more relevant information, you should get it if possible.

I have tools enabling me to assess tens or even hundreds of people in a day. It makes some parts of the process a routine to me. However, I have to have in mind that for many of the people on the other side this is their first encounter with a procedure like this. I have to be prepared to acknowledge their reactions and address their queries.


Feedback

So, you’ve made your contribution. You answered all the inquisitive questions in personality questionnaire. You’ve made your brain sweat over the tasks in a cognitive test. Is all you hear from now crickets? Then you’re not being treated as you deserve. Sure, it’s not always possible to attend to everyone during a hiring process. However, this shouldn’t apply to people who dedicated their time and personal information to this extent. Psychodiagnostic tools aren’t for free. At least not the good ones. From a particular perspective, you’re already an investment. If you take care of your investments, they can bring back much value. Some of them not right away – but still. For me, this is a matter of professional accountability, ethical treatment, and good economy. Organizations are doing themselves a big disservice when they let perspective yet currently unsuccessful candidates lie fallow. If you feel like you’ve ended up left behind, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. At this point, you’ve earned it.


Quality tools

If you’re treated fairly, you’re being exposed to high-quality tools. How to recognize them? This is a tough proposition. There are more indicators of a good assessment tool, and it’s not always easy to find out more about them. To understand some of them, you would need basic knowledge of statistics and methodology. I’m not saying you wouldn’t get it. I’m saying it’s usually not feasible digging deep into this if you have your work- and personal life still going on.

However, there are some pointers when it comes to a shady assessment:

It looks cheap. This is not a rule. Some tools might give an outdated impression and still be of good quality. However, when the whole thing doesn’t look like someone gave it proper thought, it should raise concern.

They’re making you pick colors, associate them with some random words, or draw something. Don’t get me wrong here – some of these methods aren’t that bad. They just often work better in a therapeutic or self-exploratory context. Using the right tool at the right place is essential, too. I don’t think that projective methods are justifiable in the context of personnel selection. Apart from this, some of these methods are raising serious concerns among psychologists.

Your questions about the purpose and quality of the tool remain unanswered. Of course, they can’t always tell you everything. There are even times when withholding some information is part of the assessment. However, they should address your basic concerns in case they’re justified. In fact, we’re getting back to the first point of this article with this one. The quality of the tool goes hand in hand with the professionalism of its user.


Going through an assessment can be challenging and even a bit uncomfortable. In the end though, if done right, it can become a big nudge forward in your professional (and personal) development.

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