[IPAC-List] Value of cognitive ability testing for Journey-Level skilled trade jobs

Reindl, Kevin K1RQ at pge.com
Tue Mar 15 17:10:00 EDT 2016

Hi all,

I wanted to get others' opinions/experiences on a question that our company is grappling with (if you can point to specific research that helps shed light on this, even better):

Here's the situation: We typically hire employees into entry-level training or apprentice-level jobs for our skilled trades (electrical, mechanical maintenance, etc.). When we hire entry level employees, we use an array of basic aptitude, cognitive and personality-based assessments in the selection process (e.g., mechanical aptitude, numerical reasoning, spatial skills, conscientiousness, etc.).

However, because of recent gaps in our journey-level workforce (e.g., due to retirements, etc.), we have been recruiting and hiring experienced journey-level employees...i.e., those who have been performing the same work at other companies or have already completed apprenticeships elsewhere. For these jobs we have been using the same set of aptitude/cognitive and personality assessments, PLUS a test of technical knowledge required in the trade. There is also a behavior-based interview and technical interview to round out the selection process.

There is debate in our company regarding whether there is value in continuing the use of broad-based aptitude/cognitive tests for these journey level hires.

1.       On one side of the argument, the cognitive tests are well-validated assessments that have shown to be predictive of success in a wide range of similar jobs, and since we "require" candidates to take them for the entry level jobs, why wouldn't we require them for higher level jobs?

2.       On the other side of the argument, why would we need to assess general cognitive ability for experienced journey-level candidates, since they have presumably been performing similar work at other companies. Also, since we also assess their technical knowledge in other tests, require X years of experience, and in many cases require them to have completed a certified apprenticeship...then what added value is measuring their basic aptitude to do this kind of work?

I know that internal local research/a validity study might provide some answers, but before we initiate that level of research, I'd be interested in thoughts from the IPAC group...

*         Which side do you lean toward #1 or #2 above, and why?

*         What do you do for similar situations in your organization?

*         Do you know of any research (single study or meta-analysis) that may shed some light on the matter?

As always, I look forward to your thoughts!

Kevin Reindl
Pacific Gas & Electric
Human Resources
Assessments and Organizational Insights
245 Market Street, N2J
San Francisco, CA 94105
Office: 415-973-7013
Mobile: 619-322-3368
k1rq at pge.com<mailto:k1rq at pge.com> or kevin.reindl at pge.com<mailto:kevin.reindl at pge.com>

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