Test for promotion can eliminate some of the best guys

May 20th, 2009 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, May 20 (IANS) Organisations rely on standardised tests to pick out the best guy for the job. But new research shows that tests for promotion may discourage candidates from applying and create anxiety that could hurt one’s performance.
“These data really speak to (sic) the fact that the process needs to be looked at from the perspective of the applicant,” said study co-author Julie McCarthy, professor at the Rotman School of Management.

Organisations “need to ensure that the process they are using is fair and that people are going to have positive reactions to the process, even if they do not receive a promotion,” said McCarthy.

Researchers looked at the examples of police personnel writing exams through the Ontario Police College (OPC) for the purpose of promotion as sergeant or staff sergeant.

“We partnered with OPC for several years. They are really committed to providing high-quality exams and considering candidates’ perceptions when planning improvements,” said McCarthy.

The study found that officers who felt the process was fair were more likely to recommend it to other officers.

Such positive “word of mouth” is important as police agencies and other organisations try to get their best candidates to compete for increasingly responsible positions in an era of impending retirements.

But fairness perceptions were not related to exam performance. Candidates who did better in the exams were those who were motivated to do well, said a Rotman School release.

The study also suggested organisations can help employees do their best in promotional processes by developing test preparation and coping tools designed to manage exam anxiety.

This research is slated for publication in Personnel Psychology.

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