[IPAC-List] Does the day you take an oral exam matter?

Dennis Doverspike dd1 at uakron.edu
Wed Apr 1 15:10:52 EDT 2009


I think it goes back to or comes down to a simple issue.

Although we regard public sector hiring in high stakes positions such as
police as being based on "merit," it is more of a competition. Because it is
a competition, people get upset when they think someone else has an unfair
advantage in that competition. 10,000 people may be competing for 10
positions and in such circumstances even a tenth of a point may make a huge
difference. In addition, our tendency to add bonus or additional points for
such factors as veteran's status or residency may effectively shut out even
those with perfect scores on our assessment device. That is not to say such
additional points are not warranted, but it does impact people in real ways
in public sector testing. So, even a small advantage may be huge, when there
are large numbers of applicants and very few positions.

Maybe it is a cultural factor, but if you think people get upset over
perceived unfairness in public sector testing, try going to a children's
baseball or soccer game (or for the Canadians, hockey). Watch some 12 year
old referee or umpire make a call that upsets the soccer moms and dads.

Finally, we should probably be happy when people so desire public sector
positions that they are willing to fight over points. It is certainly better
than the alternative of having no one interested in the jobs.

Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D., ABPP
Professor of Psychology
Director, Center for Organizational Research
Senior Fellow of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology
Psychology Department
University of Akron
Akron, Ohio 44325-4301
330-972-8372 (Office)
330-972-5174 (Office Fax)
ddoverspike at uakron.edu

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-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org]
On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:14 PM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Does the day you take an oral exam matter?

Kinda makes you wonder, though, doesn't it. Are the folks who suspect
unfair advantage IN SPITE of abundant evidence to the contrary the sort that
you want in law enforcement and public safety?

That's not unique to law enforcement, though. Somewhere out there, I
imagine, are people applying for positions as ombudsman or some other
similar advocacy role who also suspect other candidates of having an unfair
advantage for lord knows what reason. Or people applying for positions
that require quiet diplomacy and raise an adversarial stink about every
little administrative detail during assessment.

Sometimes, it's not how well you do on the test, but rather how you take it,
that indicates whether you're suitable for the job or not. (wink, wink,
nudge, nudge)

Mark Hammer

IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

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