Performance Simulation tests

What better way to find out whether applicants can do a job successfully than by having them do it? That’s precisely the logic of performance simulation tests.

Although, they are more complicated to develop and more difficult to administer than written tests performance stimulation tests have increased in popularity during the past several decades. This appears to be due to the fact that they have higher face validity than do most written tests.

The two best known performance simulation tests are work samples and assessment centers. The former are suited to routine jobs, while the latter are relevant for the selection of managerial personnel.

Work sample tests are hands-on simulations of part or all of the jobs that must be performed by applicants. By carefully devising work samples based on specific job tasks, management determines the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for each job. Then each work sample element is matched with a corresponding job performance element. Work samples are widely used in the hiring of skilled workers, such as welders, machines, carpenters and electricians. For instance job candidates for production jobs at BMW’s factory in South Carolina have 90 minutes to perform a verity of typical work tasks on a specially built simulated assembly line. Work samples yield validities superior to written aptitude and personality tests.

A more elaborate set of performance simulation tests, specifically designed to evaluate a candidate’s managerial potential and are administered in assessment centers. In these tests, line executives, supervisors, and/or trained psychological experts evaluate candidates as they go through one to several days of exercises that simulate real problems they would confront on the job. Based on a list of descriptive dimensions the actual job incumbent has to meet, activities might include interviews, in basket problems solving exercises, leader less group discussion and business decision games. For instance, a candidate might be required to play the role of a manager who must decide how to respond to 10 memos in a basket within a 2 hour period. Assessment centers have consistently demonstrated results that predict later job performance in managerial positions.

Interviews: In Korea, Japan and many other Asian counties, employee interviews have not traditionally been part of the selection process. Decisions tend to be made almost entirely on the basis of exam scores, scholastic accomplishments, and letters of recommendation. This is not the case, however, throughout most of the rest of the world. In fact, of all the selection decision organizations around the globe use to differentiate candidates, the interview continues to be the most common. Even companies is Asian countries have begun to rely on employee interviews as a screening device.

Not only is the interview widely used, it also seems to carry a great deal of weight. That is, the results tend to have a disproportionate amount if influence on the selection decision. The candidate who performs poorly in the employment interview is likely to be cut from the applicant pool regardless of experience, test scores or letters of recommendation. Conversely, all too often the person most polished in job seeking techniques particularly those used in the interview process is the one hired even though he or she may not be the best candidate for the position.

These findings are important because of the unstructured manner in which the selection interview is frequently conducted. The unstructured interview short in duration, casual and made up of random questions is not a very effective selection device. The data gathered from such interviews are typically biased and often only modestly related to future job performance. Still, managers are reluctant to use structured interviews in place of their favorite pet questions (such as If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?).