Individual Psychological Assessment
Hiring, promoting, and developing the right
people for specific jobs represent some of the most important decisions that
companies make. Many organizations use individual psychological assessment
to help them make such decisions. Individual psychological assessment or
individual assessment is a phrase used by many people. Often, that
phrase means different things to different people. The following questions
and answers are presented to clarify this phrase.
What is individual psychological assessment?
Individual psychological assessment is a tool used to
help organizations make decisions about hiring, promotion, and development.
A typical individual psychological assessment consists of professionally
developed and validated measures of personality, leadership style, and cognitive
abilities among other things. The process often includes an interview.
Ideally, the tests and measures used in an individual
assessment have been validated for the current positions in accordance with
legal and professional guidelines (see APA Standards and SIOP
Principles). While the small number of individuals evaluated for certain
positions may make obtaining certain kinds of validation evidence more
difficult, other types of evidence should be accumulated to
support the use of individual assessments.
2. How much time does
a typical individual psychological assessment take?
Depending on factors such as the length of an interview
and the number of tests and simulations that are included in the assessment, the
length of the process can vary. The level of the position (e.g.,
entry level, executive, etc.) can also affect the amount of time an organization
chooses to spend on the individual psychological assessment process. The
process varies from less than an hour to two days.
3. Who are the primary
users of individual psychological assessment?
Organizations of all sizes may include individual
assessment as supplemental information for making hiring, promotion, and
Who is qualified to conduct individual psychological assessments?
There are different roles that are part of the
individual assessment process, and different people can perform these roles.
For example, paper-and-pencil tests vary in their requirements for
administration, scoring, and interpretation (i.e., some can be administered and
scored by trained administrative staff members while others require a background
in testing for administration, scoring and interpretation). Typically, for
an individual psychological assessment, the assumption is that a qualified
psychologist combines and interprets the data from the various assessment tools
to make an overall evaluation of an individual.
5. How is individual
psychological assessment information generally used?
Individual psychological assessment information is
usually intended to supplement data on a candidate obtained from other sources
(e.g., interviews, references, and prior work experience). The results of
the individual psychological assessment are often considered as information to
be explored further with the candidate and with his or her references.
When is individual psychological assessment typically used?
Due to cost and time, the individual assessment process
is usually implemented as a final hurdle when the candidate pool has been
narrowed down to the top candidates. Many organizations assess at least
two individuals for comparison purposes. Assessing at least two candidates
can provide a back up in case the preferred candidate declines the job offer.
Comparing two or three candidates with one another also provides the company
with the additional advantage of determining relative fit with the culture and
the potential for coaching and development. Also, because of time and cost
considerations, individual assessment is more often used for high level or
critical positions in the organizations, where the costs of wrong
employment decisions are high.
7. How much does a
typical individual psychological assessment cost?
Fees for individual assessment are typically based on
several factors, including the number of tests used, the length of the
assessment, the professional training and experience of the psychologist, the
reputation of the consulting firm, and its geographic location. Companies
are more likely to spend more on higher level positions where the stakes are
What are the advantages and disadvantages of individual psychological assessment
relative to other employee screening and evaluation methods?
The primary benefit of individual psychological
assessment is that it provides additional data on a candidate that is not easily
obtained through using only one or two assessment tools. Another benefit of
individual psychological assessment is that it can provide a candidate with
detailed, developmental feedback for the new position. However, developmental
feedback is often optional in individual assessment and is not always provided.
The data can also help the candidates new manager gain a better understanding
of how best to coach and mentor his or her new direct report. However,
depending on the organizations policy and the appropriate use of the
assessment information, the data may or may not be shared with the supervisor.
The primary disadvantages are the time and expense
associated with the assessment. Also, the process may alienate or turn
off some candidates who do not understand the process or who do not see it as
relevant to the decision.
Employment Testing Table