The B-PAD Group, Inc., is a California-based company specializing in the development of tools that facilitate the selection and assessment of job applicants and promotional candidates in the public safety sector.
As a leading video-test publisher, B-PAD has created a new process that goes beyond a traditional structured interview. This new process combines video-testing technology presenting real-life situations with traditional oral interviews that can assess a candidate’s spontaneous response to a situation.
The developers of B-PAD found in their review of the public safety selection research literature over more than 50 years that only three approaches to applicant screening are shown to produce consistently valid and practically useful predictions of on-the-job performance: (1) cognitive or intelligence testing, (2) specific biodata inquiries, and (3) structured situational interviews (in which applicants are read two or so scenarios and asked to describe what they would do if faced with such a situation in real life). Among these, the situational interview has emerged as the most commonly used applicant screening approach.
As a starting point in their effort to develop a behaviorally-based public safety assessment tool, the B-PAD test developers analyzed the features of the situational interview that contributed to its effectiveness. Their study led them to conclude that the moderate predictive power of the situational interview is attributable to the fact that the questions are all standardized (every applicant gets the same set of questions) and job-referenced (the applicant must imagine himself or herself in the role, responding to a real situation), the focus of assessment (judgment) is narrow, and the raters’ interaction with the applicant is minimal.
Building on these three key components of the situational interview, the B-PAD test developers designed a new assessment tool that is behaviorally focused (i.e., that requires applicants to demonstrate their responses to scenarios rather than merely describe what they would do). The importance of a behavioral focus was three-fold: (1) behavioral assessments provide the fairest method of assessment for all ethnic and gender groups; (2) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), while placing significant limitations on an employer’s ability to assess an applicant before making a conditional offer of employment, permits an employer at any time to ask an applicant to describe or demonstrate how he or she would perform job-related tasks; and (3) by having applicants role-play their responses rather than describe what they would do, an applicant’s job-relevant interpersonal skills could be assessed, not merely what the applicant says he or she would do.
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