Union Threatens Legal Action on IRD for Using Psychometric Assessments

October 10, 2017
Union Threatens Legal Action on IRD for Using Psychometric Assessments

This is a Brief Article

So the Public Service Association are throwing their toys out of the cot because the IRD wants to conduct a robust hiring process for their upcoming restructuring.

Erin Polaezuk, the National Secretary, calls these ‘tests’ absurd and labels them pseudo-scientific. A classic case of moral panic. Interesting, one could counter-punch by pointing out that her comments,  based on personal observation are true pseudo-science at work!

One could imagine how many of the original IRD staff were hired, via CV and an interview. On their own, these two most used tools in the selection process are the least predictive and bias methods available.

It is always tricky using psychometric selection assessments on incumbent staff. I would only recommend this process if the competencies for the new position were widely different from the current role. I guess the IRD are running the fairness line, what’s good for a few is good for the lot?

Ms Polaezuk’s comments of pseudo-science are naive in the extreme. There are 100 years of scientific evidence on the benefits of measuring cognitive ability and personality to help evaluate job fit. In this blog last week I directed my readers to an excellent paper on the British Psychological Society website – https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-22/edition-9/choosing-right-tools-find-right-people

I am familiar with the tools the IRD use and can tell you the validity and reliability will easily stand the court’s test. Maybe Ms Polaezuk would do well to ask the publishers for the copy of their technical manual. Alternatively, she should complete the assessment and have the publishers debrief her results.

I also noted the rather flippant response from the Association’s lawyers made on One News, implying ‘many’ successful cases. I would draw their attention to the American Department of Labour guidelines for the usage of psychometric assessments. Those organisations that followed these guidelines saw cases brought before the court by individuals or their organisations had failed the test of fairness, ethnic bias and scientific evidence.

I applaud the IRD for using my tax money to ensure they hire people that ‘fit’ the job whether this is internal or external. This process is not just about understand the individuals learned behaviour (can they do the job?), but also their innate capabilities, how will they do the job.

I shall be watching this case with interest and can bet my first born child that the association will not win this case based on the benefits (to both parties) and the predictability of the IRD’s assessment.