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

Lance Seberhagen sebe at erols.com
Tue Mar 15 20:01:58 EDT 2016


The possibility of false negatives is a legitimate concern when jobs are 
hard to fill. One alternative is contracting-out.


Lance Seberhagen, Ph.D.

Seberhagen & Associates

9021 Trailridge Court

Vienna, VA 22182


www.seberhagen.com <http://www.seberhagen.com>

On 3/15/2016 7:05 PM, Lance Seberhagen wrote:
> Hi Kevin:
> I have faced this question with some of my clients.  If PG&E has been 
> giving the full test battery to experienced journey-level 
> candidatesfor some time now, what percentage of these candidates pass 
> the basic aptitude and cognitive tests?  If all candidates pass with 
> flying colors, perhaps those tests aren't really needed.  On the other 
> hand, if a significant number of candidates fail, perhaps those tests 
> are needed, if PG&E wants to maintain the same quality of employees 
> that were hired in the past.
> PG&E's personality tests probably measure things like safety, 
> teamwork, and work ethic.  These worker characteristics still have a 
> high degree of variability among experienced candidates, so PG&E 
> should probably continue administering those tests to experienced 
> journey-level candidates.
> So how much savings are we really talking about?  How much does it 
> cost to administer the basic aptitude and cognitive tests?  How much 
> extra time is required to administer these tests?  Would the benefit 
> from dropping these tests be enough to out-weigh the risk of hiring 
> skilled trades people who lack basic reading and math ability?  Is 
> that risk greater forPG&E than for other employers?  What could 
> possibly go wrong?
> Lance Seberhagen, Ph.D.
> Seberhagen & Associates
> 9021 Trailridge Court
> Vienna, VA 22182
> 703-790-0796
> www.seberhagen.com <http://www.seberhagen.com>
> On 3/15/2016 5:10 PM, Reindl, Kevin wrote:
>> 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 
>> <mailto:kevin.reindl at pge.com>kevin.reindl at pge.com
>> _______________________________________________________
>> IPAC-List
>> IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
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