Psychological tests as a selection technique have certain definite advantages over other methods of selection of employees.

Major advantage is that the test is an objective and standardized behaviour sample which lends itself well to statistical evaluation. Generally, it is easier to determine the value of a test than it is to evaluate other selection devices such as interviews, letters of recommendation, etc.

Psychological tests are useful in selecting people with promotional ability, discovering reasons for job failure based upon personality traits, and even determining susceptibility to accidents. These advantages are not found in other methods of selection.

Psychological tests are most carefully developed instruments, following certain highly standardized and often intricate procedures discovered by the psychologists as a result of long researches. These are used widely at work in order to ascertain different kinds of information about a person.


Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Psychological Tests 2. Meaning and Definition of Psychological Tests 3. Characteristics 4. Types 5. Principles 6. Advantages 7. Limitations.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection: Meaning, Definition, Characteristics, Types, Principles, Advantages and Limitations

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – Introduction

Psychological tests as a selection technique have certain definite advantages over other methods of selection. Major advantage is that the test is an objective and standardized behaviour sample which lends itself well to statistical evaluation. Generally, it is easier to determine the value of a test than it is to evaluate other selection devices such as interviews, letters of recommendation, etc.

Also, tests tend to be less subject to bias-particularly tests of aptitude and achievement. Thus, tests provide an objective method that can aid the selection process with lesser probability of biases creeping into the selection procedure. Tests have another advantage that they uncover talents and potentials which are not necessarily detected by other selection techniques.

In most cases the costs of giving tests are not particularly high compared to those involved in interview. This is especially true of paper-pencil tests, which could be given to a large number of people simultaneously and can be scored also with equal ease.


Screening with testing can also reduce the interviewing time and number of applicants substantially when hundreds of candidates have to be screened for various job positions. It is difficult to have even a rough estimate of their talent and hidden ability from preliminary interviews or scrutiny of their application blanks.

Psychological tests are useful in selecting people with promotional ability, discovering reasons for job failure based upon personality traits, and even determining susceptibility to accidents. These advantages are not found in other methods of selection.

The use of tests in industry today has steadily expanded and testing has definitely earned a place in scientific selection procedure. The use of psychological tests is widely prevalent in the West. But in India their usage is limited to some of large established Indian companies and some foreign subsidiaries.

Though tests are very useful, they are not infallible. The limitations and dangers of psychological testing include uncritical use, unfair rejection of applicants, faking of test responses, conformity, and poor quality of test administration.


In recent years, the public has become more critical of tests and there are certain ethical issues involved in their use as selection devices, including invasion of privacy and the confidentiality of test questions and answers.

It is better to use tests as supplement to other techniques like interviews and background checks, instead of relying solely on test results when evaluating a candidate. The selection process should not stress test results to the exclusion of other factors like how the person “comes across” in his interviews, the person’s track record, and what the applicant’s references say.

Whether or not to test, and what testing practices is appropriate and ethical, have been matters of argument for long. Advocates of testing argue that tests provide significant, relevant personal information not otherwise available, or available only through other more costly or less reliable sources.

Critics state that:


1. Tests are not reliable; they can be easily “faked”; they invade the privacy of the individual tested; they “mark” him for life;

2. They are unfair to culturally handicapped groups;

3. They encourage undesirable conformity among employees; and

4. They are subterfuges, used by managers to obscure the real reasons for rejections.


The general theory behind testing in selection is that human behaviour can be forecast by sampling it. The test creates, situation in which the applicant reacts; reactions are regarded as useful clues to his likely behaviour in the work for which he is applying.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – Meaning and Definition

An important device used in personnel selection is psychological test. The basic assumption underlying the use of tests is that no two individuals are alike in their job- related abilities and skills, intellectual capacity, attitudes, personality and other traits, and that these abilities, skills, attitudes etc. can be adequately and accurately measured for the purpose of comparison.

Psychological tests are being increasingly used in modern days in selecting the employees. Since human behaviour and abilities are complex and inter-related, a test of a single ability alone cannot be undertaken. Therefore, different tests will have to be undertaken together to find out the suitability of the candidates.

Since different tests are to be undertaken together, all these tests are first psychological tests in general and then they are the tests of specific abilities. These tests are called psychological tests because they have been designed by the psychologists. A psychological test is designed to measure such abilities and skills in a worker as are found to be essential for successful job performance.


A scientific definition of psychological test may be given as follows – “A psychological test is essentially an objective and standardised measure of a sample of behaviour from which inferences about future behaviour and performance of the candidate can be drawn”.

The word “objectivity” used in the above definition relates to the validity and reliability of the instruments used to measure the ability of the individual. It is the moral responsibility of the recruiter to see that the instruments or tools used in the test are job-related. Further, objectivity of the test refers to the equality of opportunity for all the job-seekers taking the test. This means that the employer-recruiter should not discriminate against caste, creed, sex, sect etc. but should treat all the candidates equally.

The word ‘standardised’ used in the above definition refers to uniformity of procedure in administering and conducting the tests. This means that the instruments or tools used in the test should be uniform and standardised.

The words ‘sample of behaviour’ used in the above definition refers to the fact that the test represents only a sample of the total behaviour of the human being and therefore the actual behaviour may not closely resemble the behaviour as predicated by the test.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – Top 6 Characteristics

Psychological tests are most carefully developed instruments, following certain highly standardized and often intricate procedures discovered by the psychologists as a result of long researches. These are used widely at work in order to ascertain different kinds of information about a person. Test is a systematic procedure for sampling human behaviour.


Psychological tests usually have following characteristics:

Characteristic # 1. Assumption:

It is fully well recognized that people differ in capacities to be able to acquire specific skills and knowledge such as those needed for certain jobs and other activities. The use of tests is based on the assumption that no two persons are equal in respect of intelligence, skills, etc. People possessing varying skills or other attributes perform differently on a job.

The different attributes of the person are revealed when tests are used. The underlying assumption of all tests is that the way the person behaves or responds during a test is a likely rejection of the person’s normal reactions and abilities.

Characteristic # 2. Standardization:

It refers to the consistency of procedures and conditions under which people take a test.

Characteristic # 3. Objectivity:

It involves the accurate and consistent scoring of a test, unbiased by the personal characteristics of the scorer. All tests must have one or more sets of test norms. A test can achieve a high level of objectivity if the answer to each of its various questions is distinct and precise and if there is no difference of opinion, regarding if among the various examiners.

Characteristic # 4. Reliability:


It refers to the consistency of responses on a test. If a test possesses of high reliability, a person who is tested a second or third time with the same test under the same conditions, will obtain approximately the same score. Test consistency is very important and there are several ways to determine reliability.

For instance:

(i) Test-Retest Method:

In which the same test may be administered to the same people at two different points of time.

(ii) Equivalent-forms Method:

In which again test-retest approach is used. Instead of taking the same test a second time, a similar form of test is given, and the two sets of score are correlated.


(iii) Split-Halves Method:

In which the test is taken once, divided in half, and the two sets of items are correlated with each other.

Characteristic # 5. Validity:

It is concerned with how well a test measures what -it intends to measure. Tests used in employment must possess the characteristic of validity. Validity is highly specific in nature. A particular test may be valid for one objective and invalid for another.

Validity may be of the following specific types:

(i) Content Validity:

It indicates how well the content of the test questions relate to the subject matter being measured. It is used primarily for achievement tests.


(ii) Face Validity:

It refers to the extent to which the test appears valid or relevant to the person taking it (test items relate to job activities).

(iii) Concurrent Validity:

It refers to the degree to which test scores relate to the performance of the employees presently on the job.

(iv) Predictive Validity:

It refers to the degree to which there is a relationship between scores on a test and some future behaviour, which is required of a person if he is to perform successfully the job for which he is being tested. This is probably the most important type of validity for personnel selection.


(v) Construct Validity:

It reflects the extent to which the test measures the psychological quality, like “intelligence” or “introversion” or “dominance” etc., it is supposed to measure! It is rather theoretical type of validity since it is aimed at measuring the relationship between a test and an artificial abstraction or “construct” such as intelligence.

Characteristic # 6. Utility:

It is concerned with the extent to which a particular test can be used with facility. And for this it is essential that questions asked should be simple, the method easy, the time involved less, easy interpretation of test scores, and the expenses very less.

Of all the above characteristics, the most important are Validity and Reliability. Hence, these must be present in all types of tests. In fact, before giving any employment test, it is necessary to keep in mind that reliability and validity criteria are the most cardinal concepts in the u« of a test of any type. Special consideration should be given to know to what extent do test results consistently and reliably measure what needs to be measured.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – 4 Types: General Ability Tests, Aptitude and Achievement Test, Personality Tests and Interest Tests

Psychological tests can be categorized as measures of general ability (intelligence), aptitude or achievement, personality and interest. Each type of test may be used in an industrial setting depending upon existing needs. Personality and interest tests, however, are not used to make predictions regarding job performance but are used when personality or certain patterns of interest are known to be related to performance in a particular setting.

Tests can be administered to either groups or single individuals. Group tests can be given to groups of any size and to single individuals, but individual’s tests can be administered to only one person at a time. Group tests are common in industry, since they are usually less expensive and less time-consuming than individual tests.

1. General Ability Tests:


These vary in their complexity and function. The best example of a sophisticated and comprehensive intelligence test is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). This test must be administered and interpreted by a trained psychologist and it yields traditional intelligence quotient (IQ) score. It is a very detailed test upon which many shorter tests are based. The WAIS is usually administered to executive and management personnel in order to assess particular styles and qualities of intellectual functioning. It should not be used as an absolute measure in deciding whether a person will be hired or promoted.

There are many shorter, less comprehensive tests of general ability. The Otis Self Administering Test of Mental Ability, Wonder lie Personnel Test, SRA Verbal and Thurston Test of Mental Alertness are a few of the most popular. These tests estimate intellectual functioning and generally do not yield IQ scores.

2. Aptitude and Achievement Test:

These are often hard to differentiate. The way in which a test is used often indicates whether it is a measure of aptitude or achievement. Theoretically, an aptitude test measures ability to perform a particular kind of task and is used to predict future performance on the job or in training. The achievement test is a measure of present functioning and is used to determine to what extent a given trait has been learned or mastered through training or job experience.

3. Personality Tests:

These should be administered by properly trained personnel; a master’s degree in psychology is usually a minimum requirement, a doctorate is preferable. Personality tests measure abstract concepts such as aggressiveness, independence, support, conformity, passivity and the like.

More controversy is generated by personality tests than any other kind. The reality is that personality testing is the most difficult area of psychological testing, especially in terms of development. Even the best personality tests are often criticized for lack of technical support and for this reason it is so very important to scrutinize carefully the use of these tests and to have trained personnel administer and interpret them.

Personality tests, as well as intelligence tests, should not be used as the sole measure to hire or promote anyone; no test should. They should be used as diagnostic tools to help form a picture of the total person in order to evaluate how he or she might function under certain circumstances.

4. Interest Tests:

These are seldom used to make predictions regarding job performance. They are, instead, inventories of a person’s likes and dislikes and are generally used for career and vocational guidance. The best-known and most widely used interest tests are the Strong-Compbell Vocational Interest Blank and the Kuder Preference Record. These tests tell how a person’s interests compare with the interests of others in various occupational groups. The assumption is that a person will be more satisfied working among those with similar likes and dislikes.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – 5 Important Principles of Psychological Testing

The important principles of psychological testing are the following:

1. Job Analysis Basis:

Job analysis is the basic parameter which determines psychological tests. The tests should be designed to measure those requirements which have been suggested under job specifications so that the qualities of the candidate can be matched with those required by the job.

2. Standardisation:

Standardisation refers to the consistency or uniformity of the conditions and procedures for administering a psychological test. In order to make test results comparable, tests should be standardised.

3. Objectivity:

The tests should be objective in nature and be free of subjective judgements on the part of the scorer. All applicants taking the test should be given equal opportunities and not discriminated on the basis of sex, religion, region, etc.

4. Reliability:

Reliability refers to the degree of consistency of results obtained. In other words, it means stability of response on a test. A test is reliable if it yields the same result even if a person is tested for the second or third time provided the test and situation remain the same. A slight variation in test scores when a test is retaken at a later time is common; however, if the fluctuation is high, then the test is not reliable. There are three methods to determine the reliability of a test.

These are the following:

(i) Test-Retest (Repetition) Method:

This is the simplest method of determining reliability of a test. In this, a test is administered twice to the same group of people and the two sets of scores are correlated. In other words, a test is given and repeated on the same group and the correlation computed between the first and second set of scores. Closer the correlation/ reliability coefficient, the more reliable the test is considered to be.

(ii) Alternate/Parallel/Equivalent-Form Method:

This method also uses a test-retest approach, but instead of using the same test for the second time, an alternate/similar form of the test is administered. However, it is costly and difficult to develop two separate and equivalent tests.

(iii) Split-Halves Method:

In this method, the test is divided into two equivalent halves and the correlation found for these halves-tests. Generally, there is odd-even split. This is less time-consuming as only one administration of the test is required.

5. Validity:

It refers to the extent to which a test measures what it is designed to measure. There may be three types of validity.

These are given below:

(i) Criterion-related validity – This is concerned with the relationship between test scores and the subsequent job performance. If a person scores high on test, he also does well on the job, and vice versa.

(ii) Rational validity – This is the type of validity that relates to the nature, properties and content of a test, independent of its relationship to job performance measures.

There are following two approaches to establish the rational validity of a test:

(a) Content validity, which means how well the contents/items of the test, as a sample, represent all the situations that could have been included.

(b) Construct validity, which refers to the extent the test measures the psychological characteristics such as intelligence, motivation, emotional stability, etc.

(iii) Face Validity:

Face validity is not a statistical measure but a subjective expression of how well the test items seem to be related to the job in question. There are certain test norms: In order to interpret the results of a test, a point of comparison must be established. This is necessary so that the performance of one person can be compared with the performance of others.

This is accomplished by means of the test norms, the distribution of scores of a large group of people similar in nature to the job applicants being tested. The most widely used psychological tests have sets of norms for men and women, for different age groups, for various racial and ethnic groups and for varying levels of education.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection– Advantages

In modern days, psychological tests are being increasingly used for selecting employees, because of several advantages available from such tests.

These advantages are as follows:

1. These tests provide a systematic procedure for measuring a sample of human behaviour from which inference about future behaviour and performance of the candidates are drawn.

2. They are used in vocational and professional colleges.

3. They are also used in decisions relating to placement, promotion, transfer, counselling and training of employees.

4. They are very useful in selecting candidates for various jobs.

5. They help in reducing personal bias and subjective judgment in the process of selection.

6. They help to identify talent which may otherwise be overlooked.

7. They enable the management to evaluate a large number of candidates through one test and collect considerable information about the candidates within a short period of time.

Psychological Tests used in Employee Selection – Limitations

However, the psychological tests suffer from certain limitations as follows:

1. The psychological tests are not infallible or fully reliable because they measure roughly only one of the various aspects of a human being.

2. These tests are criticised on the ground that they tend to invade the privacy of the candidates.

3. Such tests cannot make a hundred per cent prediction of a candidate’s on-the-job success. They can, at the most, reveal that those who have scored above the cut-off point will be more successful than those who have scored below the cut-off point.

4. Such tests can be used only when the number of candidates is large enough. But if the number of candidates is small, then the administration of tests will not be economical.

It should therefore be noted that psychological tests are designed to supplement other screening methods and not to replace them.