Prevue: Ipsative Versus Normative Assessments

This article might also be entitled, “Why Myers-Briggs Isn’t Suitable for Selection”. The issue was raised in the interview of Dr. Patricia Lindley by David Creelman for Human Capital Institute noted earlier in this edition of Prevue News. The issue of using the Myers-Briggs for Selection arises so often that we believe Dr. Lindley’s response deserves a separate article in this newsletter.

The exchange with Dr. Lindley went as follows:

Mr. Creelman: “…Myers-Briggs is the test everybody knows, but at the same time experts say don’t use it in recruitment. What can personality tests do for us in selection?”

Dr. Lindley: “Certainly I’d agree that Myers-Briggs shouldn’t be used for selection. The people who developed, published and market Myers-Briggs would also stress that. It isn’t a tool for selection, rather it’s a tool for personal development. It can be used in groups to help individuals understand one another but it’s certainly not a selection test.

For selection, you want to rule out tests that are just referring to yourself rather than comparing you to a larger population. Anything that talks about how you’re better at one thing than another, but doesn’t compare you to the outside world, isn’t helpful. The technical term for these types of tests is ipsative tests. An ipsative test would ask, “Which do you prefer, being in control or being active?” You might like both or you might hate both and you may say you would like to be in control even though you might actually prefer to be active. You might be operating at a very low level or a very high level but all the ipsative test tells you is which one you prefer rather than how that preference compares to the other candidates.”

Assessment tests that compare a job candidate to a larger population are referred to as normative assessments. The ICES Plus Assessment, which is the foundation of all Prevue Assessment Selection Reports, is a normative instrument that measures candidates against not just one but two norm groups:

First, the candidate is compared to the general working population based on a sample of several thousand people from various cultures and types of jobs;

Second, the candidate is compared to the profile of top performers developed from the application of the unique Prevue Assessment Benchmarking process.

Another advantage of the Prevue Assessment is that it does not compel the job applicant to choose between one of two extremes. Unlike the Myers-Briggs, the ICES Personality Inventory permits the job applicant to respond with in-between answers.