A Study on Applicant Perceptions of Selection Procedures
FrontLine National Case Study
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Testing - When to use Rank Order or Pass/Fail (cutoff)
Any organization that administers exams may well have faced the question "When is it appropriate to use rank ordering and when is it appropriate to use a pass/fail scoring system?" Both systems have relevance but circumstances will suggest which system may be best to use.
The pass/fail or cutoff method is best used when individuals with scores higher than the minimum cutoff on job related skill tests are not likely to do better at job tasks than individuals with scores at the cutoff. Once individuals meet the threshold of the minimum requirements, higher scores are not a good indication of predicting better job performance. An individual with a higher score may have greater skill than an individual with a lower score, but this difference would not have practical impact on job performance.
Take for example Ergometrics' entry level public safety reading tests. All are pass/fail. They are designed to determine if an individual has the minimum skills needed to read and understand work literature. Someone who can read at a graduate level will not likely do any better on the job than someone who can read at the twelfth grade level if most work literature is written at the eighth grade level. The pass/fail method is a good approach when a level of minimum ability is essential and higher level skills are not what makes an employee outstanding.
Unlike the pass/fail method, rank ordering can be used when individuals with higher scores are likely to perform better at job tasks than individuals with lower scores. For example, someone with a score of 90 is likely to perform better at the tasks being tested for than someone with a score of 70.
In most cases where the rank order method is appropriate, the pass/fail method can be used if preferred. However, when choosing the pass/fail method over the rank order method in situations like these, you will be ignoring predictable performance differences with the group that passes.
Ergometrics entry-level video-based tests (e.g. Frontline, FireTEAM, ECOMM, Start, REACT) are good examples of when to use rank ordering. Extensive amounts of research done during development shows individuals with higher scores are more likely to perform better at job tasks than individuals with lower scores. Hiring the candidates with higher scores is the most effective way to build an outstanding workforce.
The above information provides recommended guidelines to help you and your organization make more informed decisions in your selection process. If you have any questions about your selection process, Ergometrics is always available to discuss your options with you.