6. Application, interpretation and use
The application, interpretation and use of the WPI will be discussed in this chapter. First, we will elaborate on the possible applications of the questionnaire, the test material, the instructions, the knowledge required for the use of the WPI and the limitations of the questionnaire. The interpretation of the test scores will be clarified by means of an example casus. Finally, we will discuss the competencies that are derived from the results of the WPI, how they are established and the value one can attach to these competencies.
The WPI can be used in any setting in which it is important to have information on someone’s personality. The WPI is a personality questionnaire related to personnel selection, personal development and career advice. It can be assumed that the questionnaire can be used for the entire Dutch work force.
6.2. Test material and test instructions
All the questionnaires by Ixly are administered in the Ixly Test-Toolkit. This is an online environment that offers qualitatively high instruments to professionals and consultants in the field of Human Resource Management. The toolkit can be reached via http://l.test-toolkit.nl. Consultants receive a username and password when they subscribe to the Test-Toolkit. We ask them to regularly change this information, due to security reasons. The online questionnaires provided by Ixly are thus not available to people that do not have a subscription to the Test-Toolkit. Consultants can assign one or multiple questionnaires to a candidate. The candidates are informed through an e-mail sent from the Test-Toolkit. This e-mail included the login details of the candidate. The questionnaires are therefore not available without login information and thus not available to everyone. After completion of the questionnaire, the results are only retrievable by the consultant. Information about the operation and possibilities of the Test-Toolkit are described in Appendix 16.
The candidate is able to login to http://l.test-toolkit.nl with the login information obtained in the e-mail. On the front page, there is a short description on who has administered the questionnaire and how the Test-Toolkit works. In addition, the candidate gets a short (pre-)questionnaire in which the candidates fills out demographical information. It is indicated that the data is processed anonymously and that the information will be used for research purposes only. After the pre-questionnaire, the candidate arrives at an overview of all the tests and questionnaires made available to him/her, including a short description of these tests and questionnaires. The candidate can take the tests in any order they prefer.
Since the WPI is a personality questionnaire, it is administered without any time pressure. This means that the candidate can take as much time as he or she needs for the questionnaire. It takes the average candidate about 45 minutes to complete the questionnaire. However, in the instructions it is indicated that it is important that the candidate does not think too long about the questions: what comes to mind first should be filled out. In addition, the candidates are instructed to give answers based on typical, general work-related situations, not based on atypical, exceptional situations. Both instructions are important in getting a reliable as possible image of the candidate. Because the WPI is administered online, candidates always receive standard instructions.
The WPI consists of 276 statements for which the candidates is asked to indicate to what extent he or she agrees with the statement. Answers are given on a 5 point Likert scale ranging from totally do not agree to totally agree. How the candidate should interpret the 5 answering categories is explained by an example. The instructions can be requested on every page.
The candidate has the possibility to close the questionnaire at any moment. The answers that are given up to that point are saved locally on the computer of the candidate. In this way, it is not possible to leave the software without saving the given answers. It is, however, necessary for the candidate to complete the WPI on the same computer and in the same browser as it was started on. The candidate is notified of this before starting the questionnaire. After completion of the whole questionnaire, the results are automatically sent to the database of the Test-Toolkit.
We have chosen not to give the candidates the option to go back to previous screens when completing the questionnaire. Although this is possible in paper-and-pencil questionnaires, we believe that the automation of the questionnaire is an improvement to this. When a person is able to go back to previous screens, it is possible to make answers more consistent with each other while this is not a reflection of the true response tendency of the person. The candidates are therefore advised not to think too long about their answers and to answer with what first comes to mind. This is not facilitated by giving the candidates the possibility to alter previously given answers.
The WPI does not need to be administered in a controlled setting. This is possible due to the fact that it concerns a self-report test which means that there are no correct or incorrect answers. The candidate can take the WPI at home, which saves time in the advice and selection procedure.
6.3 Knowledge required for the use of the WPI
When the WPI is used by a professional in order to advise others, it should be ensured that:
- This person is competent, qualified, licensed or authorized to use psychological tests for different purposes, such as assessment, coaching, training and Human Resource Management, in which he/she works. This should be in line with the laws and regulations of the respective country.
- This person will use the product in accordance with the national or international professional standards and ethics.
- This person will use the product in accordance with national or international laws and regulations, instructions and guidelines and all other applicable governmental or quasi-governmental rules.
- This person will only use the product for the organization he or she works for or for his or her own company, in his/her own name and on his/her own account. It is not allowed to sell, lease, copy, give or transfer the product in any way to whomever or whatever company, except for the use of products and services as an integral part of the service to clients or the use within the organization that is the direct employer of the professional.
- For certain services or products, Ixly will test the reliability and knowledge as a professional before one can get access to these services or products. Ixly has the right to deny this access, without stating a reason.
The Ixly Test-Toolkit is very user friendly. The candidate is only required to be able to start up a computer, to visit a web page and to operate a mouse. When the candidate has these skills, he or she is able to complete the WPI in the Test-Toolkit. When the instructions and questions are read aloud to the candidate, for example in the case of blind or candidates with impaired vision, it is important that the reader has the aforementioned skills.
6.4. Limitations of the questionnaire
To what extent the WPI can be used in distinct (poli)clinical settings (i.e. for patients) is yet unclear. No research in this setting has been conducted up to now. In addition, the WPI has not been tested yet in school populations with an age of 15 years or younger; therefore, we do not know the merits that the WPI can have for these groups. It would be a nice addition to have more information on this in the future, although these groups do not necessarily fall under the work force, which is the target audience of the WPI. Nevertheless, it is possible that the WPI can be used in these settings as well.
6.5 Interpretation of scores
The WPI is reported in sten scores. This scale ranges from 1 to 10. Sten scores a form of standard scores with a mean of 5.5 and a standard deviation of 2. Sten scores present an image of how a certain score relates to the mean of all scores. Stenscore 4, 5, 6 and 7 all fall within 1 standard deviation of the mean. Stenscore 2, 3 and 8, 9 fall between 1 and 2 standard deviation of the mean. Stenscore 1 and 10 is located more than two standard deviations from the mean. The mean score of the norm group is exactly located on the border between the fifth and the sixth sten (5.5). The percentages corresponding to the separate sten scores are shown in Table 6.1.
|Table 6.1. Sten scores with corresponding percentages|
When someone scores an 8 on a certain scale, this means that this person scores between 1 and 2 standard deviations higher than the mean which corresponds to 6.7% (4.4 + 2.3) of the people from the norm group have scored higher. We have chosen to report on sten scores because they are easy to interpret and understand, and because they are detailed enough for the application of the WPI. A possible disadvantage is that they are sometimes confused with school grades. A sten score of 5, for example, does not mean a “bad” score, but an average score that is very common in the norm group.
The factor scores are also reported as sten scores. This sten score is not a simple average of the scales belonging to a factor, rather, the factor scores are standardized separately. The interpretation of the scales and factors is the same.
6.5.1 Definitions of the factors and scales
For a good interpretation of the WPI it is important to know the meaning (content) of the factors and scales. An overview is included in Appendix 4.
6.5.2 Interpretation of the scores in a selection and an advice situation
To illustrate the interpretation of the WPI, a psychologist has described how he uses the WPI in selection assessments and in career advice.
184.108.40.206 Selection assessment
In the selection process of candidates, personality is of course not the only aspect that is assessed. In selection assessment, a suitable combination of several selection techniques is important: a combined assessment of intelligence, personality, motivation, ambition and career values. For example, in congruence with research findings that intelligence has higher predictive value for more complex job functions, cognitive tests get a larger weight in the selection procedure of expert positions than in selection procedures of positions with a smaller degree of complexity (Salgado, 2003). For some functions personality questionnaires will have a larger share in the process than for other functions, for example in sales and management functions, for which personality is an equally strong predictor as intelligence.
The goal of the WPI is to provide a questionnaire that is relevant in the professional field of HRM. This translates to a large emphasis on the ‘Conscientiousness’ factor. In the WPI, this factor is split up into two factors: Exuberance and Structure. Exuberance concerns motivation, the power with which people want to make a contribution. Structure in the WPI corresponds more to the classical interpretation of ‘Conscientiousness’, meaning conscientious and precise.
The social factors Influence and Sociability will be mostly relevant for the functions in which people work with other people and in which leadership is asked. A direct relationship of these factors with performance is not always clear. In service providing job functions, the factor Sociability also seems to play a role (see paragraph 5.2.4. Validity study with 360 degrees feedback).
Stability appears to be relevant for a lot of job functions, especially when pressure is put on people. It appears to mainly influence the output, i.e. the quantity of work. However, a linear relation with job performance is not always the case. High scores can also lead to a degree of indifference and in consequence inertia, as we have seen quite some times in the field.
It is important for the selection psychologist to check and test any remarkable results of the selection procedure in the interview. We recommend the criterium, competence or behavioural interview method, which is also called the STAR-method. Direct use of personality questionnaires to determine the suitability of a candidate for a specific function is not advisable. Questionnaires are not tests in the strictest sense of the word. As we emphasize in each report, we are still dealing with self-reports.
In the selection processes, one first needs to make clear which competencies are important for the job concerned, and which scales of the personality questionnaire correspond to these competencies. With the results of the questionnaire, one can look whether these correspond with the competencies one deems necessary for the function. In the interview and in possible simulations, this needs to be tested.
Selection assessment case
A medium-sized automation company is looking for a business consultant. The job function is described as follows:
Analysis of the function profile
Employers often have their own competency language, often through self-developed varieties of available systems, which have to be interpreted by understanding what is exactly meant. In the following, we will analyse all the competencies.
Analytical skills. Since these skills cannot be measured in a personality questionnaire, these skills are not included in the WPI. Tests for cognitive capacities are more suited for this. Since it is an intellectually complex function, it is justified that great importance is attached to this. Therefore, determination of the intellectual capacities should be included in the test program.
Innovative capacity and creativity cannot be derived directly from the WPI either. Again, this is because intelligence plays an important role. In combination with intelligence one can look at the scales Adaptability, Independence and Originality. These indicate the tendency to be innovative, creative and original. Whether these translate into the competence is partly dependent on intelligence. It is quite possible to be open to all sorts of solutions, but to still always choose the wrong one.
Learning capacity. Again, intelligence, in combination with interests, plays a role. It is interesting to look at the scores on Self-development and the factor Exuberance. It is advised to minimally include one cognitive ability test and preferably the Career Values questionnaire as well.
Influencing ability, networking, cooperation and representing the company externally are all social competencies. In terms of factors and scales, Influence, Sociability and Exuberance are important. For cooperation the factor Sociability is mostly important, and within this factor, specifically the scales Trust, Friendliness and Attentiveness; to be able to trust others and to be willing to conform to the wishes and the roles of others. For the competence cooperation it is also important that one does not score too high on Competition, has a fair degree of Stability and does not score to low on Conformity. Scores that are too low on this scale can lead to too individualistic behaviour. Some degree of Exuberance and Influence are desirable, while scores that are too high can lead to less cooperative behaviour. In short, a lot of scales and factors play a role in the competence of cooperation. It is important to come to understanding from the interview how a person behaves in teams and what role the individual plays in the dynamics of a team. Furthermore, it is advisable to use simulations or role plays in order to assess these communicative competencies. Through this, direct observation of behaviour is possible.
Planning and organizing. The factors Structure and Exuberance are very important for this competence. In addition, we want to emphasize that planning and organizing requires intelligence as well, especially when the planning is complex.
Whenever you are involved in a selection procedure, it is important to do the analysis as described here, in order to make clear, beforehand and unprejudiced by the results, what the relevant scales and factors are for the selection process.
The automation company directs two potential candidates to an assessment company, where the WPI is administered, as part of a program that additionally consists of a cognitive ability test, the Career Values questionnaire, a role play and a criterium related interview. The psychologist prepares the interview with the results of the tests, which are completed by the candidate on the internet the day prior to the day of assessment. Below, the results of the two candidates are graphically presented.
When looking at the results, it is important to first look at the factors. It becomes apparent that Influence is just below average with a low score on Self presentation, but with a large need for competition. Sociability is downright low, this person is very introverted and has a low need for contact. Exuberance, a factor that is part of ‘Conscientiousness’ in other personality questionnaires, is above average, with a high score on Perseverance and Energy. Originality is less well pronounced. We can call the score on Structure, which is also part of ‘Conscientiousness’, average, just as the score on Stability, while the low score on Self-confidence is striking.
The following scores for the function relevant competencies are notable:
Innovative capacity and Creativity
Scores on the scales Independence (4) and Originality (2).
Apart from intelligence, this candidate appears to be less inclined to contribute in an original and creative manner. One really needs to pay attention to this and pose questions on it in the criterium related interview.
The scale Self-development (6) and the factor Exuberance (6)
Independent of intelligence, this person appears to have a just above average learning capacity, in which the wish to make the best of himself/herself and to put energy in this is absolutely present. In the interview, we have to ask about the underlying motivation and the willingness to put energy in gaining new knowledge and insights.
The factor Influence is below average, in which the low score on Dominance (3) is remarkable. This leads to the expectation that this candidate will not excel in influencing others. In the interview, as well as in the role play and simulation, this needs to be paid attention to.
Networking, representing the company externally
The factors Exuberance (6), Influence (4) and Sociability (2).
This competency appears to be the largest risk for this candidate. This candidate is an introvert rather than an extrovert. Networking and external representation of the company will mostly be motivated because the function demands it: it is not something that this candidate will do spontaneously. Some people will be able to overcome this in their job, while being more solistic and introverted at home. This should be discussed in the interview.
The factors Sociability (2) and Exuberance (7) and the scales Trust (2) and Conformity (7).
This candidate is not a teamplayer by nature, but might be able to cooperate functionally as the result of a large drive. There is, however, willingness to conform to the wishes and styles of others, something that is important for this function. The low level of trust will possibly play a role in the candidates functioning in groups. At first, he will probably keep some distance and question the intentions and performance of others.
Planning and organizing.
The factors Exuberance (6) and Structure (6).
This candidate appears to be conscientious enough to be able to adequately plan and organize work, although caution is warranted for solistic behaviour and a lack of delegating tasks. In addition, intelligence should be taken into consideration when looking at this task.
Summary candidate 1.
The profile indicates a couple of risks that should be investigated in the interview and role play. These risks are the following, in order of severance:
- Influencing ability
Again, let us first look at the general overall impression of the profile. We are dealing with a driven, very competitive candidate. The levels of Influence and Dominance are above average, combined with a lower level of Sociability. Exuberance is above average, in combination with a high level of adaptability and a large need for change. Attentiveness is somewhat lower: this candidate believes that everyone has his/her own responsibilities. In terms of Structure, this person has a below average level of conscientiousness, with a larger need for change than for routine. Emotional Stability is below average, with a relatively low level of Optimism.
Let’s look at the relevant scales for the function:
Innovative capacity and Creativity
Scores on the scales Independence (6) and Originality (5).
These average scores show an average susceptibility for creative contributions, for which the intelligence – as noted before – will also be of importance. We cannot expect this candidate to show a lot of innovativeness.
The scale Self-development (6) and the factor Exuberance (7)
The above average self-development score indicates that this candidate is willing to develop himself, partly because of his exuberance.
The scales Influence (7) and Exuberance (7)
The just above average scores, in combination with the high score on Competition, show that this candidate will be able to develop a certain level of influencing ability. Again, this needs to be questioned in the interview.
Networking, representing the company externally
The factors Exuberance (6), Influence (4) and Sociability (2).
The scores on Sociability are quite low, below average. It can be expected that this candidate will network because of his exuberance and drive and his need for influence, i.e. because of functional reasons. There is a slightly below average score on Need for contact while the candidate is quite relaxed in social situations (Leisure contact). Again, these scores should be addressed in the interview.
The factors Sociability (4) and Exuberance (7) and the scales Trust (5), Independence (6) and Conformity (7).
As mentioned with Candidate 1, low Sociability influences the cooperation. The need for contact is just below average. However, the candidate appears to have sufficient levels of exuberance and an average trust in the intentions and contributions of others. The Conformity score is just below average, Independence is average. We can expect this candidate to be able to function well in a group, but to adapt an autonomous and independent role within this group.
Planning and organizing
The factor Structure (4) and Exuberance (7).
The just below average score on Structure and above average score on Exuberance lead us to expect that the candidate is just sufficiently inclined to structure his work, without being a perfectionist. He is more concerned with the bigger picture; details will not always be paid attention to. Intelligence also needs to be considered when reviewing this competency.
Summary candidate 2.
The candidate appears to have some strong points and a couple of risks that need to be addressed in the interview and role play. The qualities appear to be:
- Learning ability (but keep intelligence in mind)
- Influencing ability (needs to be confirmed in the role play and interview)
On average, the following competencies appear to be risk factors:
- Networking and representing the company externally
- Planning and organizing
In short, a candidate that needs to confirm and reinforce some aspects in terms of the interview, role play and intelligence. However, the candidate appears to be a serious contender.
Of both candidates, candidate 2 appears – only on the basis of the WPI – to be the best candidate. However, a lot depends on the interview, intellectual ability tests and on the role plays. In this situation, the intelligence of the candidates appeared to be quite similar, i.e. at a higher educational level. In the role play, which included a situation in which influence needed to be exerted, candidate 2 did a good job. Candidate 1, on the other hand, did not perform as well. All things considered, the whole process resulted in a negative advice for candidate 1 and a positive advice for candidate 2.
220.127.116.11 Career advice
In career advice situations, the WPI is often administered in combination with the Career Values questionnaire, interests questionnaires and intellectual capacity tests: in this situation, the focus is more on the candidate. In selection processes the question is whether a candidate is suited for a certain function, while in career advice settings the question is which functions or professionals are most suitable with the personality and motivations of the candidate. Of course, other factors such as working experience, education and practical considerations such as working conditions and commuting distances are important as well. Again, we will discuss the application of the WPI, this time in the context of an outplacement program.
Career advice candidate
A 48 year old manager is signed up for an outplacement program, let’s call him J. Doe. J. Doe was working for the municipality as head of cleaning services, but got into a conflict with the city councillor. The specific reason for this conflict was that he had ordered a number of garbage trucks, without following the proper internal procurement process. Mainly, no consultation took place with the responsible councillor before taking the eventual decision. However, procurement rules were taken into account. What really was going on was that J. Doe and the councillor did not really like each other. The councillor found Doe to be stubborn, while J. Doe had little respect for the councillor, because he had never given any supervision and was appointed as councillor straight from unemployment. J. Doe, on the other hand, had been working since he was 18 years old, and made a career on the job by working hard and taking several training courses at night.
We observe the following scores for the WPI:
The full report of this person is included in Appendix 18.
Doe has a very high score on Influence. He is very ambitious, dominant and competitive. He has a high need for proving himself. He has an average need to put himself in the spotlight and will have little difficulties in doing so. Sociability is, in general, just below average, while the relatively high score on Leisure contact is notable. He is not tense in groups of people and will not have social anxiety. In addition, he is more of an introvert than an extrovert; he is especially not so open about what goes on in his mind and not so much focused on others, based on his low score on Attentiveness. His trust in others is limited. His high score on Exuberance is remarkable: he is energetic, persevering and independent. He also wants to develop himself. In addition, he is averagely innovative and focused on variation and new tasks.
His need for Structure is, in general, below average. He has little need for Regularity. He is sufficiently orderly and precise for management positions. He is somewhat non-conformist; he will not be so focused on adapting to the group and its norms and values. J. Doe has an average score on Stability, in which both his low score on frustration-tolerance and his high score on self-confidence are remarkable.
Based on J. Doe’s scores, it is not hard to understand how his career has unfolded itself. In school he had problems with adapting to the school regime. In addition, he lacked discipline then. He then started working for a cleaning company, where he made a career rapidly by following several training programs and courses. His drive and influence were apparent. After a working as a manager in the cleaning sector he applied for a job as head of cleaning in a middle sized municipality and was offered the job. J. Doe gave the higher salary and status of the job as a motive to take the job: working for a municipality rather than a private cleaning company appealed more to him. In the beginning, everything went well when he was working under a councillor that gave him a lot of freedom. He reorganized the cleaning service successfully with a lot of energy and effort. Under the new councillor, things started to go bad quickly, though it still took two years before the conflict resulted in the dismissal. He competed with the councillor, a competition he was bound to loose, due to their differences in authority and power. The conclusion of this analysis is that it was important for J. Doe to work in an environment in which he was able to work sufficiently autonomous and which was less focused on rules and procedures. Especially the supervisor was important: J. Doe did not respect someone because of his function title, but only when he deserved it. A boss is only a boss when he is right, was his motto.
We have advised J. Doe to look for work in the profit sector again, in an organization in which managers have a large amount of autonomy. Working for the government can carry too many risks, because of his unconventional character, in combination with his competitive spirit. Managing positions are very suitable for J. Doe, due to his high scores on Influence and Exuberance. His average scores on Sociability, and especially on Self-disclosure, Trust and Attentiveness, make him a task driven supervisor. We advise J. Doe to find a job in which these aspects are required, but to pay attention to developing more people-oriented supervising skills. In the outplacement process itself, we do not expect to encounter a lot of dilemmas. His Exuberance is high and his Stability is high enough to be able to deal with the layoff. However, an outlet for his frustration needs to be sought. The factor Influence is positive for the outplacement process as well, since we can expect that J. Doe will take action and will be able to influence contacts to his success. Because of an average score on Sociability we can expect that network meetings will go sufficiently well, although those will have more instrumental meaning. He has a low Need for contact and finds it hard to be open about himself. On the other hand, he is self-confident and not socially anxious.
Doe found a new job within four months, again as head of cleaning, but now for a large municipality. We could have expected that he would ignore (some of) the advice. He did indicate that this municipality works with integrated management and that he would be fulfilling a more autonomous role. He was not directly involved with politicians, but was supervised by another managing director, which he knew well and respected. In addition, he indicated that he was willing to work on his people-oriented managing skills by taking courses.
6.5.3. The relations between factors and scales with regard to occupational indications
Clear positive or negative correlations between the factors are avoided by the way in which the WPI is set up. High scores on scales within a certain factor are not automatically correlated with high or low scores within a different factor. However, it is possible to distinguish substantive relationships between scales within one factor and scales of another different factor, by which a certain profile can be distilled. Some examples are given in the following:
The project management image
The following scores fit in the profile of a project manager: High scores on the factor Exuberance, and more specifically on the scales Energy, Influence, Adaptability, in combination with high scores on the factor Stability and more specifically Resilience and Frustration-tolerance. In addition, lower scores on the Regularity scale fit with the project management profile, when they are combined with moderately high scores on the Orderliness and Decisiveness scales of the Structure factor. However, scores that are too high on these scales can form a risk, since it can be a sign of perfectionism. High scores on Influence and especially Dominance are desirable as well. In short: this is the image of someone who wants to put his or her energy in a job with varying tasks, in which initiative is asked and the will and ability to guide and influence processes. In addition, the ability to respond flexibly to different situations and a smaller need for regularity and predictability, but a larger need for changing projects with different (kinds of) people.
The general management image
High scores particularly on the Influence, Sociability, Exuberance and Stability factors fit with the image of a general manager. Within the Influence factor, too high scores on Competition can be harmful, especially in relation with low scores on Friendliness, Trust and Attentiveness. High scores on these last three scales indicate a people oriented management style. When this style is apparent, one needs to pay attention to the influence of Decisiveness. Excessive scores on Decisiveness in relation with Friendliness, Trust and Attentiveness can lead to a manager that finds it hard to make decisions that can have negative consequences. In the personality literature, the ‘Conscientiousness’ factor is found to be an important predictor of job performance. In the WPI, this factor is split up into two factors, namely Exuberance and Structure. Successful managers often show high scores on Exuberance in combination with low scores on Structure. Low scores on Structure are not necessarily harmful: however, it depends on the role the manager is expected to fulfil. When internal control, task orientation, organizing, setting up and controlling processes are important, scores on Structure should not be too low. Scores on Structure that are too high can also have negative consequences: due to risks of perfectionism and too low levels of flexibility. Finally, Stability is generally a positive characteristic, but should not lead to detachment and unaffectedness when scores are extremely high. Very high scores on Stability can indicate that the person is untouched or unmoved by anything, which can lead to inertia.
The commercial image (sales)
In a commercial image focused on ‘sales’ fit, just like in the management image, particularly high scores on the factors Influence, Exuberance, Sociability and Stability. Commercial people often score somewhat lower on Structure, although average and above average scores can contribute to commercial success. Within the factors the following scales are most important: Dominance, Competition and Self presentation. These scales contribute to commercial success particularly in competitive markets. High scores on Need for contact and Leisure contact indicate that people establish contact easily. Very high scores mean that one wants to make new contacts all the time, which is mainly important for acquisition (hunting). These scores combined with low scores on Attentiveness and Trust indicate a more “hard” sales style. Average scores on Need for contact and Leisure contact and higher scores on Attentiveness and Trust indicate a preference for relation management and account management, focused on a smaller group of clients
The advising image
The image of someone who is mostly in an advising role (counsellor or consultant) is mainly made up by high scores on scales such as Adaptation, Originality and Independence belonging to the Exuberance factor. These scales indicate an ‘intellectual’ interest. For a lot of advice functions intelligence is of course an important aspect. In addition, Sociability is important, although the scores do not need to be extremely high. Average scores are often sufficient. The extent to which this factor is expressed strongly depends on the degree to which contacts are needed. We often see average scores for the Structure factor: structured enough to work carefully, but not getting caught up in details. The scale Decisiveness should not be too low, because this might lead to advice being given too impulsively. Scores on Decisiveness that are too high can lead to a consultant that gets caught up in the analyses and is afraid of giving any advice.
The specialistic image
High scores on the Structure factor and somewhat lower scores on Influence fit with the image of someone who operates substantively as a specialist. High scores on Structure ensure that someone delves deeper into the content of the job, to achieve a high degree of knowledge and perfection. The other factors depict more the type of specialist. A controller, for example, should have some influence, in order to advise and control supervisors. An engineer will sometimes need to be original, to come to new solutions. Too low scores on Sociability indicate a solistic view of work, which can become a problem when working in project teams. Adaptability, the need for new tasks, can sometimes be fed in the specialism, by continuously gaining and using new knowledge. But when the need for change is too large, one would often want to become a generalist rather than a specialist.
The service image
The factor Sociability is very important for service occupations. The Influence-scales can be low to average. Someone with very low scores on Influence is subservient (in a positive way), but can sometimes show a lack of initiative. For teachers, for example, one would expect at least some level of Independence, Self-presentation and Dominance. Stability appears to be important as well, to be able to deal with the work load and pressure of others. In general, it is important to know which services are being provided and how the scales influence these services. The Structure factor is often helpful in providing services in a careful and planned way. Again, the type of work will determine what the desirable scores are.
6.5.4. Consistency, self-image and response tendency
Three measures are added to the WPI in order to limit biases caused by social desirability, response tendencies and inconsistencies.
Consistency indicates the degree to which someone has given a similar response to an item pair that correlates highly within the norm group. The Self-image measure indicates the degree to which someone shows a critical or positive image of him/her self. Low scores indicate that the candidate has predominantly chosen for the less positive options, and therefore comes across as more modest. High scores indicate that a candidate is not afraid of choosing the extreme options and probably is trying to provide a very good image of him/her self. Whether one’s scores are accurate cannot be assessed by this measure. The response tendency measure indicates whether someone has chosen the extreme options or has chosen to be on the safe side and choose for the middle options. The percentages indicate whether the candidate has chosen more often or less often for a particular option on the 5-point Likert scale, compared with the norm group. For a more detailed description of these measures, we refer the interested reader to http://www.test-toolkit.nl/consistentie-zelfbeeld-en-antwoordtendentie-van-de-wpv.
6.5.5 Competency model of the WPI
The WPI includes a competency model. We have included this model in order to satisfy the need, coming from the HR field, to directly get an overview of the competencies of a candidate. In constructing this model, we have adopted the same strategy as for the personality questionnaire. Assessment psychologists were asked to write down competencies of which they wanted to know their developability. Of all the noted competencies, 40 were selected. The criteria for this selection were that all domains and client criteria should be covered, and that the competencies were not defined too narrowly or too widely. Subsequently, the development team of Ixly determined whether scales were positive or negative predictors of a certain competency. The results of this process are presented in the competency matrix.
The scores on the scales (high, average or low) have different levels of predictive value for a certain competency. Certain scores can also have a negative influence on a competency. This is also included in the matrix. In the first stage, we used a linear model. A low sten score on a certain scale indicated a low level of developability of a certain competency. When the sten score increased, the developability increased in a linear way as well. This model was tested in practice by Ixly. At that time, the model was not used in career advice situations. Psychologists verified whether the developability of the competencies of the candidates as provided by the model of the WPI corresponded to their own ideas about the developability. In addition, candidates were asked whether they recognized themselves in the profile. In the cases where the results of the model and the ideas of the psychologists did not correspond, the cause of this discrepancy was investigated. On the basis of this investigation, the model was adapted. After this, the new model was tested with new candidates and again compared with the assessments of psychologists, etcetera. The model is thus constructed in an iterative way by using concrete, real-life cases.
The main finding was that the linear model did not hold and that a non-linear, curvilinear model with an optimum per sten score was more suitable. The main idea is that “more” is not always better (or worse), but that there are one or more optimal scores that are not necessarily positioned at the ends of the scale. In practice, extreme scores on personality characteristics are rarely optimal. In the development of this competency model, we have gone through the first steps. The model is constructed on the basis of theory and experiences in the field. Again, for this model, a process will be followed in which the results are compared with the findings of assessment psychologists. The final 29 competencies are listed in Appendix 19, with a description of each competency. The competency scores that follow from the model should be used as an aid, and not as a selection tool. This is why we have chosen the name “Competency Indicator”. By continuing to do research on the competencies, it would be possible to eventually use it in selection situations in the future.