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SHL Test Guide for KSL Clients

To make best use of both the SHL OPQ32 and the SHL Ability Tests within the recruitment and selection process there are some key points worthy of consideration.


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Here is how to best use SHL OPQ and Ability Tests in a Selection Process:

1. Identify the job requirements

Identify early on in the recruitment and selection process which skills, behaviours and attributes are critical to the job. This will enable you to pinpoint the crucial information you wish to attain from the SHL OPQ and/or Ability Tests.

It will also help you decide which type of SHL OPQ32 report will provide you with the most relevant information. KSL Training, or SHL, can provide example reports to assist. Contact us for more information.

In addition, we recommend doing some job analysis before hand to identify the attributes of employees who are particularly successful in the role. This will help you to focus on the most crucial aspects of the candidate’s responses within the OPQ report.

2. Plan the timing of the OPQ/Ability Tests

In the planning stage, it is helpful to consider which stage of the selection process would be the most effective to use the OPQ and/or Ability Tests. Many organisations use the Ability Tests to initially screen applicants. This is useful where a large volume of applications are likely to be received for the job. It’s also helpful where the employer wishes to raise the quality of candidates selected for interview.

The SHL OPQ32 is then used just prior to the interview at the second stage of selection. This allows the interviewer to plan their questions in a focused manner, ensuring that the candidate’s self assessment report is accurate. Using the OPQ before the second stage of selection also proves more cost effective.

3. Confirm attributes and skills reported from the OPQ/Ability Tests

Within the selection process it is best practice to measure the key skills you are looking for at least on two occasions. Considering the selection methods you will therefore use carefully, will help you to achieve this. For example, if influencing skills are critical within the job role, the SHL OPQ32 report will help you to identify how influential the candidate sees himself or herself.

To confirm this, you may wish to use a competency based interview question. Get the candidate to provide you with a real life example of when they have had to influence someone to achieve something important in their job or life. Alternatively, you could ask the candidate to role play a scenario where they have to influence you or a colleague acting as a customer/client.

4. Provide candidate feedback

Due to ethical reasons, candidates should be provided with feedback on the results of the test and/or questionnaire. This feedback can be provided in either a verbal or written format. SHL provide automated OPQ candidate reports for this purpose, and at KSL Training, we can provide either face-to-face or telephone feedback. Alternatively, you can use a trained in-house practitioner to provide candidate feedback.

5. Supervising candidates

The on-line SHL Verify Ability Testing service and SHL OPQ32 can both be completed by a candidate without supervision. These Verify Tests, offered in Numerical and Verbal Critical Reasoning, can offer additional security. They do this by asking the candidate to complete a second, shorter version of the test, with questions aimed at the candidate’s first reported ability level.

This will then enable SHL to confirm whether or not the second test results reflect the candidate’s initial reported ability level. You will need to have a Level A trained administrator to operate the second stage of this Verify process.

If you decide, as part of your selection process to invite your candidates to take the tests and/or questionnaire under your supervision, the following tips may help:

6. Create the right environment

Provide a quiet, light room for the candidates and ensure no interruptions occur, such as a telephone ringing. Ask all candidates to ensure their mobile phone is switched off. Also ask them to refrain from leaving the room until all candidates have completed the questionnaire/tests.

7. Explain why you are asking the candidate to complete the questionnaire/test

Provide an overview of how you will be using the information from the OPQ and/or Ability Tests within the selection or development process. Then answer any questions that the candidate may have.

8. Provide sufficient resources

Provide a few pieces of paper and a pen to each candidate to make notes whilst they are completing the on-line questionnaire/test. For the Numerical Critical Reasoning Test, a calculator is allowed, so make these available to each candidate.

9. Allow candidate to practice before hand

In each ability test or personality questionnaire, the candidate will be provided with a few practice questions to become familiar with the process. Allow sufficient time to ensure each candidate understands the process. This includes how he or she calculated the correct answer in an Ability Test before moving onto the main questions.

To be consistent in your supervision of candidates and to manage your time effectively, you may allow the candidates two opportunities to practice the test questions. You can also suggest to the candidates that they complete the practice test questions available on SHL’s website at: prior to attending the assessment.

10. Schedule a break between tests

If you are going to ask your candidate to complete the SHL OPQ32 and the two ability Tests, you may wish to consider providing a structured break with refreshments. This will help the candidates to maintain a good level of concentration. At the very least, candidates should be offered a break between taking the OPQ and the tests.

11. Ensure the candidate has completed the questionnaire/test

At the end of answering the questions, ensure each candidate has pressed the completion and log out button. This signals the technology to summarise the candidate’s responses into the report format.

12. Advise candidates when and how feedback will be available

At the end of the assessment, advise the candidates when and in what format feedback will be provided, For example, face-to-face, telephone or written.

13. Be consistent with each candidate

Regardless of how many candidates you are asking to complete the SHL OPQ32 and/or Ability Tests, be consistent with the time, environment, resources and support you provide to each one. The key is to ensure that each candidate has the same opportunity to do their best.

14. Provide specific support to candidates with disability

For those candidates who have a disability that may affect their ability to perform well or accurately, ascertain their requirements for additional support. We will then see how we can appropriately help them, for example, SHL provide free paper based tests to candidates with poor eyesight requiring larger sized fonts.

About the Author

Kim Larkins, MCIPD is Company Founder of KSL Training. Kim has 30 years training and HR management experience in the Retail, Hospitality and Pharmaceutical industry.

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