Recruitment tests have long focussed on the efficiency of the candidate in passing it, whereas, the focus should be on the application of knowledge rather than its possession, analyses Nagendran Sunderajan, Executive Vice President, Solutions & Business Development, MeritTrac.
e-Governance has changed the way the government extends services to citizens. The emphasis on providing more services to stakeholders has resulted in the need to expand resources, most important among them being Human Resources. Government recruitments have always been top priority in the agenda for job seekers, and hence recruitment tests have been of very high stakes.
The need to maintain fairness, security, transparency and inclusivity has emerged as key priorities that define the quality of a test. Attention to scientific principles of testing – its Design, Development and Delivery – is must for achieving these key priorities. While we have seen millions of tests being administered in India, a large number of these tests do not follow the key principles and hence fall prey to legal and reputational hassles.
Test Design and its development are important facets of any test. But many tests do not pay attention to key attributes – its reliability and validity. A large number of recruitment tests are good to assess the knowledge of candidates while it should actually measure their ability to apply that knowledge. The reason is that the tests are not built to measure basic competencies that are desired in the candidate to perform well in a job that he or she will fill. Use of academic qualification tests for recruitment in leading PSUs or government departments is a clear example of this. Tests that are not reliable or valid do not give a fair chance to candidates to perform and qualify the recruitment test, though they might deserve the job, thus compromising on the principle of fairness.
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Delivery of test has taken a lot of prominence in recruitment decisions of government bodies. The number of candidates appearing for tests and its spread has made test administration a complex activity. The increasing cases of exam fraud and the legal implications arising from RTI queries have added a new dimension to this complexity.
Recruitment bodies today have the option to choose from various delivery models – each that offer different benefits. Paper-based exams continue to be the most common form of recruitment tests today. The role of technology in a paper-based exam has increased manifold over the years. Use of technology in specific functions – application processing, candidate authentication and result processing – has made paperbased exams offer greater accuracy and speed. Moreover, the ability to administer paper-based exams almost anywhere in the country makes it highly inclusive. Computer-based exam is yet another trend that is capturing the attention of decision makers for obvious benefits it offers – security, transparency and speed. While the possibility of administering these forms of exams are proven, decision makers should take the right decision keeping the stakes – job role, test taker, key priorities – in mind.
Good exam is not just an e-Governance project. It is the right blend of scientific testing, leveraging right technology and stress on flawless delivery. The emphasis on 3Ds – Design, Development and Delivery – are quintessential attributes in offering fairness, security and transparency in exams while still making it inclusive.