About Dennis Doverspike

Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D., ABPP, is President of Doverspike Consulting LLC. He is certified as a specialist in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and in Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), serves on the Board of the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology, and is a licensed psychologist in the State of Ohio. Dr. Doverspike has over forty years of experience working with consulting firms and with public and private sector organizations. He is the author of 3 books and over 150 other professional publications. Dennis Doverspike received his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1983 from the University of Akron.

Should We Be Gamifying Our Assessments?

For this month’s blog, I will look at what is one of the hottest questions in private and public-sector personnel selection – “Should we be gamifying our assessments?” In my opinion, the answer is “Yes!” and I will take this blog to explain why.

“Gamification” falls within the larger topic of “how should I incorporate emerging technologies into my assessment strategies.” Now, one might legitimately ask how it is that someone who started doing math on a slide rule can claim to be an expert on emerging technologies. I will simply remind you that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Paul Allen, Bill Gates, and I were born at roughly the same time. So, despite huge differences in our net worth, we do share a similar generational zeitgeist.

What Does Gamifying Mean?

Gamifying is one type of Technology Enhanced Assessment (TEA). Related types of TEA include:

  • games (so obviously there is a difference between games and gamifying).
  • enhanced item types.
  • the use of avatars.
  • virtual reality.
  • big data and advanced algorithms.

Gamification (or gamifying) is defined as “the application of game mechanics, elements, and features to non-game environments,” or in this case “the application of game-type elements to assessments used in personnel selection.” This differs from the use of true games in selection, although the difference is probably more of a continuum than a sharp distinction, as both games and gamification can be used in personnel selection. The differences between games and gamification can be summarized as:

  • With games, the person knows they are playing a game, whereas with gamification, the applicant still knows they are taking a test.
  • Games are meant to be fun and are structured to have clear rules that define the game play; gamified tests are seen as a more serious activity.
  • Games have different play sections and winning is the goal; gamified tests are structured similar to traditional assessments and getting hired is the goal.

Continue reading

Are Tests Valid for Public Safety Jobs?

Number 4 in the Validity of Public Safety Assessments Series

The idea for this primer series germinated from a simple question – “Could you do an article looking at the validity of tests used in public safety assessment?” In response, I decided to do a series of articles aimed to inform, but also designed to keep things simple. The blogs in this series were intended to cover:

  1. What are the characteristics of a good test?
  2. What are some authoritative references human resource and assessment professionals can rely upon in evaluating the worthiness of tests?
  3. What is validity?
  4. Finally, trying to address the original question I was asked, are public safety assessments valid?

The first three blogs in the primer series have been published and are available by clicking the links above.

This is the fourth and final article in the series and is intended to answer the question regarding the validity of tests for public safety jobs. I define public safety jobs here as including police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS). In addition, human resource professionals are usually interested in the use of tests in both entry level screening and for arriving at promotion decisions. Continue reading

What is Validity?

Number 3 in the Validity of Public Safety Assessments Series

The idea for this primer series germinated from a simple question – “Could you do an article looking at the validity of tests used in public safety assessment?” In response, I decided to do a series of articles aimed to inform, but also designed to keep things simple. The blogs in this series are intended to cover:

  1. What are the characteristics of a good test?
  2. What are some authoritative references human resource and assessment professionals can rely upon in evaluating the worthiness of tests?
  3. What is validity?
  4. Are public safety assessments good tests and are they valid?

The first two blogs in the primer series has been published and are available by clicking the links above.

This is the third in the series and is intended to provide a basic introduction into the various kinds of validity evidence. By validity evidence, I do not mean the obvious distinction between the big four of:

  1. Content
  2. Criterion-related
  3. Construct
  4. Transfer or Transportability

Understanding the distinctions between the four types of validity listed above is important. However, in this blog, I mean something different by types of validity evidence. As our ultimate purpose or goal is to respond to the question as to whether tests are valid for purposes of public sector assessment, we can consider the following five types of validity evidence as relevant:

  1. Local Validation Based on Criterion-Related Evidence
  2. Validity Generalization Evidence Based on Tests in General
  3. Validity Generalization Evidence Based on Specific Occupation
  4. Validity Generalization Evidence Based on Specific Test
  5. Other

Continue reading

Where Can I Find Guidelines for Tests?

The idea for this primer series germinated from a simple question – “Could you do an article looking at the validity of tests used in public safety assessment?” In response, I decided to do a series of articles aimed to inform, but also intended to keep things simple. The blogs in this series are intended to cover:

  1. What are the characteristics of a good test?
  2. What are some authoritative references human resource and assessment professionals can rely upon in evaluating the worthiness of tests?
  3. What is validity?
  4. Are public safety assessments good tests and are they valid?

The first article in the primer series has been published and is available on the IPMA-HR Assessment Services Review page.

This is the second in the series and is intended to answer the question as to where can the reader turn for guidance in addition to that offered in this series of blogs. My suggested list is fairly short and includes:

Continue reading

What Are The Characteristics of a Good Test?

Part 1 in the Validity of Public Safety Assessments Series

The idea for this primer series germinated from a simple question – “Could you do an article looking at the validity of tests used in public safety assessment.” As my forgiving readership already knows, I have trouble containing my thoughts to a single entry. So, as I began to frame out how I would respond to the question of the validity of public safety assessments, the amount of material I wanted to cover started to grow exponentially. At some point, I decided it would be best to start from the beginning with a series of primers on topics related to validity, building up to an answer to the question of “what is the validity of public safety assessments.”

So now this blog will be the first in a series looking at this question. Over a series of articles aimed to inform, but also intended to keep things simple, I will cover:

  1. What are the characteristics of a good test?
  2. What are some authoritative references human resource and assessment professionals can rely upon in evaluating the worthiness of tests?
  3. What is validity?
  4. Are public safety assessments good tests and are they valid?

This first article in the primer series deals with the question of what is a good test. A good test can be defined as one that is:

  • Reliable
  • Valid
  • Practical
  • Socially Sensitive
  • Candidate Friendly.

Briefly and simply, I will review the meaning of each of these characteristics. Continue reading

Out With The Old, In With The New Year (2017 Edition)

Traditionally, I have started the New Year with a blog that recaps the past and looks to the future in assessment.  This year we say good bye to 2016, and enter 2017.  Of course, the big news in the United States was the election of a new President.  I am not bold enough to claim I can predict how a new administration will impact public sector human resources.  However, I do believe that I can make a prediction regarding the three hot trends for next year, and, they are each a carryover from the past several years.

My habit has been to insert a statement concerning how difficult it is to predict the future. However, this year I was surprised to find that many of the topics I would select for future trends, were actually covered in my blogs over the past year. So, maybe I am getting better at prophecy with advancing age.

My predictions for future trends or hot topics over the coming year include:

  • Big Data and Predictive Analytics.
  • Emerging Technologies.
  • Police Performance.

Continue reading

Improving the Interview, Part 2b: Managing the Panel Interview

In this blog, I will respond to what I see as practical questions that often arise in planning for a panel interview. I do apologize for the delay in the production of this third, and final, blog on the interview. Unfortunately, at times, real life intervenes.

I started this series by noting that no other selection device is as ubiquitous as the interview, while at the same time as misunderstood. Then, in Part 1, I discussed the individual selection interview. In Part 2, I discussed panel interview, including the availability from IPMA-HR of a product known as the Police Officer Structured Interview System or POSIS.

This month, in the third and final blog, I respond to what I see as some frequently encountered questions regarding the panel interview including:

  • Should I train raters?
  • Who should be on the panel?
  • How should I combine ratings to arrive at a final score?
  • What type of records should I keep?
  • How long should it take?

As a warning, a lot of my answers will involve a combination of “it depends” and “on your local rules or procedures.”

The Panel Interview

Continue reading

Improving the Interview Part 2a: The Panel or Board Interview

In the last blog, we investigated possible improvements that could be made in the use of individual interviews in pre-employment or promotional screening.  This month we expand our discussion to include the panel or board interview, an approach used by many public sector organizations.

As is often the case, once I start on a topic I have trouble controlling myself and my word count quickly gets out of control (my students have learned that if you ask me a simple question it can easily turn into an hour-long response). So, I have divided this blog into a 2a and 2b. In 2a, which you are reading right now, I:

  • Delineate the major characteristics of the panel interview;
  • Offer a version of a panel interview checklist;
  • Discuss the need for structure and training;
  • Provide an overview of the IPMA-HR Police Structured Interview System (POSIS).

Then, in a soon-to-follow Part 2b, I will answer frequently asked or encountered questions regarding the panel interview. Continue reading

Improving the Interview Part 1: The Individual Selection Interview

The Interview. No other selection device is as ubiquitous, while at the same time as misunderstood. Like an A-list celebrity, all you have to say is “the interview” and everyone can tell you stories, generate an opinion regarding love it or hate it, and tell you why it has received too much (or too little) notoriety, press, and attention.

In the next two blogs, I will look at the topic of “Improving the Interview.” This month, we will discuss the Individual selection interview, which is conducted in a one-on-one setting between an interviewer and an interviewee. In the next blog, we will investigate improving the board or panel interview.

If Everyone Uses It, What Could Be Wrong? 

Can a technique that every organization uses really be that bad? Well, the problem with the interview is that early studies found that the typical unstructured interview (referred to as “unstructured” because the interviewer was left to conduct and rate the interview as he or she wished) was not very reliable or valid. That is, despite the beliefs of human resource personnel and supervisors, the traditional interview was not a very good indicator of talent, merit, or the best candidate for the job.

The saving grace for the interview was the finding that introducing structure greatly increased the reliability and the validity of the interview. Depending upon the particular study, adding structure to an interview could double its validity as a predictor of job performance, turning it into one of the more valid selection devices.

Structure of Questions and Rating Scales

Structure can be introduced both into the questions asked as well as the way in which interviewee performance is evaluated. In terms of the questions themselves, each candidate should be asked the same questions in the same manner. The questions should present the interviewee with a situation and ask how he or she would respond, or a candidate may be asked to describe how they may have handled a problem situation in a past job. Continue reading

Should I Provide Assessment Feedback?

The topic of my blog for this month deals with employers providing developmental feedback to candidates based upon the results of employment test or assessment.  Although the feedback of results from employment tests is common in many other countries, it is less frequently the case that such feedback is provided in the United States.

My topic this month deals with using assessment or test results in order to provide developmental feedback and suggestions to employees.  Although I will be dealing with feedback from tests in general, I will pay special attention to assessments that allow for a more in-depth, comprehensive view of the individuals, such as offered by the use of assessment centers.

[For more information on assessment centers, see Public Safety Assessment Center System (PSACS) and Assessment Center Educational Materials (ACEM)]

Some Findings from a Quick Literature Search

I had a graduate student perform a quick search of the current literature. Our findings regarding policies toward providing developmental feedback by employers in the United States were that it is rare for organizations to provide scores or give feedback to job applicants for pre-employment tests.  It is more common for promotional candidates, but even there the exact type of feedback may skew toward simply providing results or scores.  Providing expansive or detailed feedback is most likely to occur where the tests are used specifically for training or developmental purposes.

As for assessments centers, The International Congress on Assessment Center Methods has a document entitled The 2014 Guidelines and Ethical Considerations for Assessment Center Operations (6th Edition).  According to their guidelines, feedback should be provided and if the assesses are members of the organization than the employee has the right to “read any formal, summary, written reports concerning their own performance and recommendations that are prepared and made available to management.” Continue reading