Role suitability and job performance are two of the key elements studied and developed by occupational psychologists, and have frequently been discussed over an extended period of time. Job performance measures an individuals ability and results in their job, taking into account their ability to use initiative, their thoroughness in completing the tasks assigned to them and the effort they put into each. (Boshoff & Arnolds, 1995) Role suitability is the governing attribute looked for in interviews and recruitment and measures the individual against criteria associated with successful application in a specific job role.
When considering potential employees, it is vital for companies to ensure that they employ the most effective and efficient worker for the role, whilst also ensuring that the individual will be able to shoulder the responsibilities of the work the role entails. To achieve this, occupational psychologists are employed to advise in the recruitment process. They consider the individual differences that are vital in predicting ability and behaviour within a job role.
Two main factors that are considered as the main indicators in job performance are personality type and general mental ability (GMA). General mental ability tests have been used for many years as a measure of potential job performance and validated research over an 80 year period has shown that the tests correlate with job performance measures across a large variety of job roles. (Outtz, 2002) GMA is most often referred to as intelligence, though differentiates from the intelligence normally spoken about by psychologists due to its lack of genetic potential. It is more accurately portrayed as an individuals ability to learn (Hunter & Schmidt, 1996) Used as a general indicator of ability, it does not measure specific aptitudes that may be involved in a job, such as numerical aptitude or verbal aptitude.
Personality is the other highly regarded indicator of performance in the workplace. Early reviews into the use of personality and job performance gave negative conclusions (eg. Guion & Gottier, 1965, Reilly & Warech, 1993). However, more recent research has evidenced suggestions that certain job-related criteria can be predicted through the testing of personality. One advantage that it has over cognitive ability testing is that it allows an element of fairness in selection choice, due to a lack of adverse impact on employees.
The experiment was carried out by joint honours psychology and counselling students from University of Wales Trinity St David Swansea. The participants were of mixed gender, all aged 18 and over. Each participant gave full written consent before taking part in the experiment.
The experiment was of a correlational design, set to measure whether there were any correlational effects between personality type, in particular extroversion, and their abilities at scoring on a cognitive task.
The statistical analysis was carried out using IBM’s SPSS program (IBM, 2013). Descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) will be used to analyse the results. Cronbach alpha coefficients was used to assess the internal consistency of the BFI-10 test. Finally Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients was used to examine the relationships between the variables.
Each participant firstly completed a consent form, giving full written consent as to their participation within the study. The BFI-10 questionnaire was then issued to the participant, completed, then received and recorded by the experimenter. The Sales ability task was then issued to the participant, its two parts described, then completed by the participant.
These papers were then collated by the experimenters and the data entered into SPSS, where the statistical analysis would be carried out.
The personality type was measured using the 10 question shortened version of the ‘Big Five’ Personality inventory test, the BFI-10 (Rammstedt & John, 2007) as this allows for an efficient and effective measurement of personality. This is measurable through a likert scale, with five steps ranging from 1= Strongly disagree to 5= Strongly agree. It measures levels of extroversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness and emotional stability with two items (questions) linked to each personality element.
The cognitive ability task was measured through an adaptation of the National Sales Aptitude Test ™ as this is a validated and trusted indicator of ability in a sales environment. The test was adapted and designed to enable us to measure the following key elements of sales ability: Communication skills, persuasive ability, resilience, customer focus, relationship building, attention to detail, problem solving ability and listening skills. These are all important elements when considering somebody’s potential sales ability. The test was made up of two sections, each graded differently. Section One was graded by a number value being given to each answer provided, whereas Section Two a point was given for each correct answer.
IBM’s SPSS software was used to carry out all statistical analysis. A consent and debrief form were also used to gain written acceptance of participation, and to debrief the participants following the experiment.
All participants completed both scales. The mean score on the extroversion questionnaire was 6.47 with a range from 3-10 (SD = 2.11) and the mean score on the cognitive task was 58.8 with a range from 35-78 (SD = 10.75)
In order to test the hypothesis that there is a positive association between increased levels of extroversion and cognitive ability in sales, the relationship between the two was explored using a correlational analysis. The results of a Pearson product-moment correlation indicated an insignificant weak negative correlation between the two variables (r = -.079, n = 40, p = >.05) with very little association being shown between the two variables (See Figure 1). The experimental hypothesis was therefore unsupported.
Figure 1. Scatter-graph showing weak negative association between variables.
Rammstedt, B., & John, O. P. (2007). Measuring personality in one minute or less: A 10-item short version of the Big Five Inventory in English and German. Journal of Research in Personality,41(1), 203-212.
IBM Corp. Released 2013. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.
Boshoff, C. & Arnolds, C. (1995) Some antecedents of employee commitment and their influence on job performance. South African journal of Business Management, 26(4), 125-135.
Outtz, J.L., (2002) The role of cognitive ability tests in employment selection. Human Performance. 15(1/2), 161-171.
Hunter, J.E., & Schmidt, F.L., (1996). Intelligence and job performance: Economic and social implications. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 2, 447-472.
Guion, R.M., & Gottier, R.F., (1965). Validity of personality measures in personnel selection. Personnel Psychology, 18, 135-164
Reilly, R.R., & Warech, M.A., (1993). The validity and fairness of alternatives to cognitive tests. In C.C. Wing & B.R. Gifford (Eds.), Policy issues in employment testing. (pp. 131-224) Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic.