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How to use test profiles

Decide what you're looking for - and choose the profile to find it

Kajsa Asplund avatar
Written by Kajsa Asplund
Updated over a week ago

When assessing candidates for a certain role through Alva, the very first step is deciding what to look for. This is what you do when you set up a test profile. Here, you decide on the personality traits and level of logical ability that are desired for the role in question. For an evidence-based recruiting practice, it is pivotal to decide on this profile before you begin the assessment: If you wait with setting up your requirements until you have candidate results, you run the risk of retrofitting the profile to the results of your favorite candidates. By deciding what great looks like before you collect the candidates’ results, you significantly diminish the risk of bias. 

How is a test profile constructed?

A test profile defines what a great candidate for the role looks like in terms of personality and logic score. There are four different aspects that can be adjusted: 

  1. Which traits that are included. First of all, you can choose if the profile should be based on only personality, only logic, or both. Second, provided that you include personality, you can select which of the Big Five facets to include. There are usually a number of facets that are irrelevant to the role in question. For instance, it usually does not matter to a sales role whether the incumbent has a high aesthetic orientation or not. Only the traits that truly matter should go into the profile, while all others are left out. 

  2. The relative weight of personality versus logic. Are these two metrics equally important to the candidate’s fit for the role? Or should one carry heavier weight? Under ‘overview’, just under the box diagram, you will see the relative weight in percentages. 

  3. The desired range for each trait. For both the logic score and for each of the facets that go into the profile, a desired range is defined. This is the area within which we ideally want the candidate’s score to be. This range will often be towards the higher part of the scale, but might also be in the middle or towards the lower part - all depending on the profile. The narrower the range, the more specific we are about what we are looking for, and the more restrictive the profile gets. 

  4. The importance of each trait. In many profiles, there will be some facets that matter more than others. For instance, for a designer role, it might be good for the candidate to be energetic, but an absolute must-have to have an aesthetic and open mind. This is why, in the profile settings, the facet’s importance can be set to high, medium, or low. 

So - how do you select a suitable position profile? The first step is to decide how much work you are going to do yourself. Overall, there are three different options: 

  1. Use one of Alva’s default, research-based profiles

  2. Set up your own, custom profile

  3. Use a validated company-specific profile, based on performance data from your own team.

The third option is only available if your organization has used Alva to map out which traits characterize your current high performers. In that case, you can use the profile of your high performers to find more of their kind in recruitment. If you do not have access to this type of internally validated profiles, you can choose between option 1 and 2 above. 

Using Alva’s default profiles

In general, we recommend our clients to use one of Alva’s default profiles as often as possible. The reason is simple: If you do not have own data showing what drives success in your specific organization, the best possible prediction is acquired by looking at research. Over the last decades, hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted on what generally drives performance in different roles. What we have done at Alva is to condense the most prominent findings into a smaller number of default profiles. These represent the best available generic predictions of what to look for in e.g. a people leader, a creative, and a strategic role. There is also one profile called Generic High Performer, which is based on the most widely applicable research findings of all - namely, that higher conscientiousness and higher logical ability drives performance in most roles. 

Setting up your own position profile

There may also be situations where you want to custom the position profile to your specific needs. If you are an experienced test user and recruiter, you may for instance have your own proven experience of certain traits being important for particular roles in particular settings. In this case, you can set your own position profile. This can be done either from scratch, or by starting with one of Alva’s default profiles and fine-tuning it according to your needs. 

As mentioned above, our recommendation is to only set up your own position profiles if 1) you are an experienced test user and 2) you have specific reasons to believe that other traits than the ones pre-set in our default profiles will matter for the role in question. Otherwise, our advice is that you stick to the default profiles, since these are based on sound scientific evidence. 

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