Tuesday, 7 April 2015

BBC Psychometrics

Continuing with my psychometrics journey in self-reflection...

In 2010 I put myself on the job market in the UK before deciding to leave the life I built up there from ten years, and just return back home to South Africa. So I took a stab at applying to the BBC. At the time, the BBC was moving much of its organisation from London to the north Manchester, Salford Quays - they had hundreds of positions available. I actually sat in one session going through five different positions. 

I know now, that's not a good way to go about the job search, it had been a long time since I'd interviewed, I came off the biggest project delivery, and was confident in my chameleon-like abilities of taking on multi-disciplinary roles.

Anyway, the BBC had at the time, a long and intense filtering process, starting with email and telephonic conversations, a formal write-up to respond to scenario & experience-project-based questions, and an online assessment exercise, that lasts between two-five hours, with all sorts of profiling: pattern recognition, maths, scenario-based questions, video simulation, the works. Once you past that hurdle, your results are reviewed, and then if you're lucky, you get called in for the interview.

I tried to follow-up with BBC on their specific tools-set they used for their profiling. This was their response at the time:
As requested, please find attached feedback following your application for a role at BBC North. This has been generated automatically based on how you have responded to the questions as part of the online assessment. The assessment and feedback has been created using software developed by a company called Previsor (www.previsor.co.uk), who specialise in selection tools.
A key part of how we’re recruiting for BBC North is looking at the behaviours of applicants and whether they match the ones that we feel are important in our employees. Our online assessment is therefore based on finding out about your preferred working style and how well this matches our requirements.
We hope the feedback is useful to you. 
This company, Previsor merged with SHL and are still in the business of providing organisations with talent assessment tools.

The report that was generated for me, had this to say:
This report is designed to give you information about your relative strengths and weaknesses on the competencies known to be important for success in this type of job. In addition, the report provides valuable on-the-job tips and suggestions to help you excel in the workplace.
The score that you receive describes how your responses compared against our database of responses consisting of your peers. The assessment that you have taken has been scientifically validated by up to 30 years of statistical data collection and analysis. People who score higher on the dimensions tend to perform better on the job in the key areas outlined in the report.
What annoyed me was that there wasn't any indication of the relative errors in the report, that the results are based on theories, instead it assumed a validity of correctness that I found a little unsettling, because it assumed to "know me", since some of the findings reported were totally off, as you shall see below (see Flexibility & Resilience commentary).

In summary, I did fit into BBC's style, as the report concluded:
Situational Judgement
This is a measure of the degree of alignment between one's approach to resolving work-related issues and the expectations of BBC. This is characterised by responding to work-related scenarios in a way that promotes original thinking, connecting with audiences and communities, being open to new ideas, taking responsibility for decisions and actions, and displaying a can-do attitude when faced with obstacles.
Your responses to the work scenarios demonstrated a high level of match with the judgements and behaviours looked for by the BBC. The BBC values and promotes original thinking, connecting with audiences and communities, being open to ideas and partnerships, taking responsibility, and having a can-do attitude.

I was placed in their talent pool for Senior/Technology-Manager roles.

See detailed report below...

Inductive Reasoning Ability
This assessment measures the ability to identify specific patterns in data or situations and generalise that information to broader contexts. It provides an indication of the ability to solve complex problems using limited information. The items in this assessment do not involve verbal ability and require the individual to detect patterns in complex figures which contain missing pieces and/or incomplete series. This form of reasoning is commonly required to support work and decision making in many different types of jobs at many levels.
This report provides information regarding an individual's ability to accurately identify missing pieces in complex figures and select appropriate next steps in a series of figures.
You demonstrate an above average level of inductive reasoning ability compared to others in similar job levels. You are likely to be very skilled at working with fairly complex concepts and should be able to quickly identify trends, patterns, and key facts from abstract information.
At work, you are likely to understand and interpret complex data quickly and make well-reasoned decisions based on newly acquired ideas and the central relationships amongst them. You demonstrate the ability to examine information from multiple perspectives, think strategically, and combine new concepts with existing knowledge to solve complex problems.

This component measures the tendency of one's sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others, as well as the extent to which he/she values agreement among co-workers. This trait can be viewed as valuing cohesion; being helpful and co-operative with others; and easily accepting other people.
You are likely to be very accepting and considerate of others, and to be open to others' attempts to build relationships. You may often consider the feelings and opinions of others prior to making important decisions. You may also value teamwork and seek co-operation among co-workers. You may be naturally inclined to be very trusting of others' intentions.  

Influencing and Persuading
This component measures the tendency of a person's effectiveness in directing and influencing others. This trait is characterised by: persuading and negotiating effectively with others; influencing others' decision making; and co-ordinating others' efforts to accomplish work.
Your responses indicate that you may confidently take charge in situations where leadership is needed. You tend to be firm and decisive in your decision-making and others tend to be drawn to you for guidance. You appear to enjoy taking on this role and the attention that typically comes with it. You may also enjoy the opportunity to motivate and direct others and feel a certain obligation to co-ordinate team efforts toward accomplishing goals.

This component measures the tendency to work effectively despite changes in co-workers, settings, and environment. This trait is expressed as one's desire for variety and flexibility in work, and a comfort level in the midst of changing circumstances.
You are likely to be somewhat uncomfortable with changes in your work setting. While you are able to make some adjustments when needed, you may be reluctant to adapt to new surroundings. While you may be able to handle additional workload and changes in the environment, you will likely prefer that things remain unchanged unless anticipated and met with adequate preparation.

Self Development
This component measures the tendency of one's desire to understand how things work and to seek out opportunities to learn and grow. This trait is described as: a willingness to take advice; asking questions to better understand something; and applying new learning to relevant situations.
You may have a wide range of interests and enjoy learning about all sorts of things. You may find some fulfilment in growing in your knowledge and understanding, and you may actively seek out opportunities for training and development. If constructive feedback is not readily offered, you may seek it out from a variety of sources, including those whose knowledge you admire.

This component measures the tendency of a person's responsibility for his/her own actions and a commitment to performing assigned tasks. This trait is characterised by: reliability; proactive involvement in work; and a dedication to complete even the most mundane tasks.
Your responses indicate that you tend to plan and prioritise tasks in order to accomplish your work on time and according to expectations. When assigned boring or routine tasks, you tend to focus on your work with the same diligence as you would for more exciting projects. You tend to plan carefully and adhere to expectations when accomplishing even the most challenging work. People may see you as someone they can count on to complete work and to accept responsibility when things go wrong.

This component measures the tendency to be thorough and precise in approaching work and personal activities. This trait is characterised by: being accurate; finding and correcting errors; and maintaining order in work and personal affairs.
You are likely to balance efforts to remain organised and orderly with the need to get things done. While accuracy is important to you, you sometimes feel that too much time spent on fine details can affect overall productivity. As a result, you may not always take the time to keep track of some information. Your work area is typically organised, but there are times when you struggle to quickly find everything you need.

This component measures the tendency of one's ability to think clearly and objectively during times of stress or intense pressure. This trait is often described as "grace under fire" and is further characterised by operating under a positive outlook despite criticism, worries, and guilt.
Your responses indicate that you are likely to become upset and discouraged by criticism. When confronted by stressful situations, your feelings of doubt and worry may cause you to avoid making important decisions. You may feel vulnerable to the opinions of others and may tend to worry about situations that are beyond your control. When you experience obstacles and setbacks, you may spend significant time focusing on the situation, making it difficult for you to maintain a positive outlook.

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