Work samples and Simulations

Work samples: Actual job tasks used in testing applicants’ performance.

With work samples, you present examinees with situations representatives of the job for which they’re applying and evaluate their responses. Experts consider these (and simulations like the assessment centers in this section) to be tests. However, they differ from most tests, because they measure job performance directly. For example, work samples for a cashier may include operating a cash register and counting money; for a clerical position, work samples would include a typing test and proof reading.

Work Sampling for employee selection:

Work Sampling technique: A testing method based on measuring performance on actual basic job tasks.

The work sampling technique tries to predict job performance by requiring job candidates to pe6rform one or more samples of the job’s basic tasks.

This approach has several advantages. It measures actual job tasks, so it’s harder to fake answers. The work sample’s content the actual tasks the person must perform is not as likely to be 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.

Basic procedure: The basic procedure is to select a sample of several tasks crucial to performing the job, and to then test applicants on them. 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 different weight to different approaches.

Figure below shows one of the steps required for installing pulleys ad belts – checks key before installing. As figure shows, possible approaches here include checking the key against (1) the shaft, (2) the pulley, or (3) neither. The right of the figure lists the weights (scores) reflecting the worth of each method. The applicant performs the task, and the observer checks off the approach used.

Example of a work sampling question:

Checks key before installing against:

— shaft score 3
— pulley score 3
— neither score 1

Note: This is one step I installing pulleys and belts.

Management assessment center:

A simulation in which management candidates are asked to perform realistic tasks in hypothetical situations and are scored on their performance. It usually also involves testing and the use of management games.

To select promotable managers, The Cheesecake factory created its Professional assessment and Development Center at its California head quarters. Candidates spend two days of exercises, simulations, and classroom learning to see if they have the skills for key management positions. 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 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 can then evaluate each group member’s interpersonal skills, acceptance by the group, leadership ability and individual influence.

Management games: Participants solve problems as members of stimulated companies competing in a market place. 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, interest and achievements.

The interview: Most require an interview between at least one trainer and each participant at assess the latter’s interest past performance and motivations.

Supervisor recommendations usually play a big role in choosing center participants. Line managers usually act as assessors and typically arrive at their ratings through a consensus process.