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

Ann M. Nakamura AMNAKAMU at UP.COM
Wed Mar 16 17:29:50 EDT 2016

Hi, Kevin.

We have a test battery that we give to our craft positions. Within a
specific craft all candidates take the same battery; however, cut scores
are dependent on the position level the candidate has applied for. For
example, a candidate who has taking the test for a mechanic position needs
to achieve higher scores on the test than a candidate who is testing for
the apprentice mechanic position.

Our internal customers strongly feel that our battery test does a good job
assessing candidates' KSAAs. They also like the fact that the test is
administered to candidates who have craft knowledge and may have already
completed some type of apprenticeship. I get the impression from our
departments that there is not always a strong degree of confidence in the
certificates and licenses that the candidates obtained prior to their
employment at UP. I'm not close to that side of the house, but I speculate
that the lack of confidence could be due to different requirements for
journeyman licenses, time between when the license was obtained and when we
hired the candidate, etc. Administering the test to more experienced craft
workers gives the hiring managers in our departments the assurance that the
candidate does possess the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully
perform the job duties.

Hopefully my ramblings are helpful. My only thought would be to examine
your test cut score and see you should require candidates with more
experience to obtain a higher score than entry-level candidates. By going
this route you would get to keep the test that you've validated and have
shown is a predictor of success, and you are showing your organization that
you are requiring a higher level of performance on the test from your more
experienced candidates.

Best regards,


Ann Nakamura-Konecky, Manager - Selection & Assessment
Union Pacific Center | 1400 Douglas Street, STOP 0340 | Omaha, NE 68179 USA
(: 402.544.3356 | *: amnakamu at up.com

I build the foundation. What will you build?
Visit UP.jobs for career opportunities.

Build with us:

From:	"Reindl, Kevin" <K1RQ at pge.com>
To:	"'IPAC-List' (ipac-list at ipacweb.org)" <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>
Date:	03/15/2016 04:50 PM
Subject:	[IPAC-List] Value of cognitive ability testing for
            Journey-Level skilled trade jobs
Sent by:	"IPAC-List" <ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org>

This email originated from outside of the company. Please use discretion if
opening attachments or clicking on links.
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

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 or kevin.reindl at pge.com

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