Work Samples and Simulations

Experts consider work samples and simulations such as the assessment centers tests. However, they differ from most tests because they measure job performance directly. With video-based situational tests, for example, examines the candidates with situations representative of the job for which they’re applying and evaluate their responses to these hypothetical situations.

Work sampling for Employee Selection:

The work sampling technique measures how a candidate actually performs some of the job’s basic tasks. This has several advantages. It measures actual on-the-job tasks, so it’s harder for applicants to fake answers. Work samples more clearly relate to the job a candidate is getting tested for, so in terms of fairness and fair employment, he may be on safer ground. The work sample’s content, the actual tasks the person must perform is not as likely to be unfair to minorities as might a personnel test that possibly emphasized middle class concepts and values. Work sampling does not delve into the applicant’s personality or psyche, so there’s almost no chance of it being viewed as an invasion of privacy. Designed properly, work sampling tests also exhibit better validity than do other tests designed to predict performance.

The basic procedure is to choose several tasks crucial to performing the job and to test applicants on samples of each. An observer monitors performance on each task, and indicates on a checklist how well the applicant performs. Here is an example. In developing a work sampling test for maintenance mechanics experts first listed all possible job tasks like “install pulleys and belts” and “install and align a motor”. Four crucial tasks were installing pulleys and belts, disassembling and installing a gearbox, installing and aligning a motor and pressing a bushing into a sprocket.

They then broke down these four tasks into the steps required to complete them. Mechanics could perform each step in a slightly different way, of course. Since some approaches were better than others, the experts gave a different weight to different approaches.

One of the steps required for installing pulleys and belts “checks key before installing.” Possible approaches include checking the key against (1) the shaft, (2) the pulley, or (3) neither. The scores reflecting the worth of each method is listed out. The applicant performs the task, and the observer checks off the approach used.

A management assessment center is a two to three day simulation in which 10 to 12 candidates perform realistic management tasks (like making presentations) under the observation of experts who appraise each candidate’s leadership potential. The center itself may be a plain conference room, but it is often a special room with a one-way mirror to facilitate observation. Typical simulated exercises include:

The in-basket: These exercises confront the candidate with an accumulation of reports, memos, notes of incoming phone calls, letters, and other materials collected in the actual or computerized in-basket of the simulated job he or she is about to start. The candidate must take appropriate action on each item. Trained evaluators then review the candidate’s efforts.

Leaderless group discussion: Trainers give a leaderless group a discussion question and tell members to arrive at a group decision. They then evaluate each group member’s interpersonal skills, acceptance by the group, leadership ability, and individual influence.

Management Games: Participants solve realistic problems as members of simulated companies competing in a marketplace. They may have to decide, for instance, how to advertise and manufacture, and how much inventory to stock.

Individual presentation: Trainers evaluate each participant’s communication skills and persuasiveness by having each make an assigned oral presentation

Objective tests: A center typically includes tests of personality, mental ability, interests, and achievements.

The interview: Most require an interview between employer’s panel, observer and each participant to assess the latter’s interests, past performance, and motivation. And this concludes the final selection process. Recruiting then depends upon post interview assessment of the concerned.

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