Biographical Data (Employment Testing)

The content of biographical data instruments varies widely and may include such areas as leadership, teamwork skills, specific job knowledge and specific skills (e.g., knowledge of certain software, specific machine tool use), interpersonal skills, extraversion, creativity, etc.   Biographical data typically uses questions about education, training, work experience, and interests to predict success on the job.  Some biographical data instruments also ask about an individuals attitudes, personal assessments of skills, and personality.

Advantages of Biographical Data

  1.  Can be administered via paper and pencil or computerized methods easily to large numbers.
  2.  Can be cost effective to administer.
  3.  Have been demonstrated to produce valid inferences for a number of organizational outcomes (e.g., turnover, performance).
  4.  Are typically less likely to differ in results by gender and race than other types of tests.
  5.  Does not require skilled administrators.
  6.  Can reduce business costs by identifying individuals for hiring, promotion or training who possess the needed skills and abilities.

Disadvantages of Biographical Data

  1.  May lead to individuals responding in a way to create a positive decision outcome rather than how they really are (i.e., they may try to positively manage their impression or even fake their response).
  2.  Do not always provide sufficient information for developmental feedback (i.e., individuals cannot change their past).
  3.  Can be time-consuming to develop if not purchased off-the-shelf.

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