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Choosing the right level of complexity for your test profile
Choosing the right level of complexity for your test profile

How to select a test profile based on the complexity of the role

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

All of Alva’s default test profiles are available in three different versions: low, medium, and high complexity. The purpose is to cater to a wider variety of client needs when it comes to candidate assessment: Needless to say, different roles place different demands on the incumbent's resourcefulness. 

With the right level of complexity, you will get the right ‘degree of resolution’ when looking at your candidates. For instance, say you would use a profile meant for senior managers when recruiting for a non-skilled worker position. Chances are, no candidates would end up with good or excellent role fit. The criteria are too restrictive. In the same vein, a low-complexity profile would not distinguish enough in a group of very highly skilled candidates. In that case, the criteria are too broad. Thus, choosing the right complexity level helps you attain the right level of differentiation between candidates. 

So, what does ‘complexity’ mean in this context? This term is used to describe the nature of the role that you are recruiting to - basically, how multifaceted the information is that one will have to handle and act upon. Multiple factors affect the complexity of a work role. Some of them are:

  • The number and character of stakeholders that the person has to handle

  • The difficulty of the decisions that need to be made

  • The level of impact that one’s decisions will have, inside and outside the organisation

  • The degree of autonomy that the person has in his/her work

  • The degree of ambiguity and uncertainty that the person will have to handle

  • The scope of one’s responsibilities.

Below follows a description of what characterizes a low, medium, and high complexity role. When selecting a test profile, choose the complexity level that most closely resembles the responsibilities of the role. 

Low complexity

A low-complexity position is one where tasks and responsibilities are at least partly routinised. Decisions that need to be made are rather specific and often governed by rules and internal policies. The person has limited autonomy in his/her work: He/she gets instructions for core tasks, and a rather high degree of supervision. The person usually answers only for him- or herself, and is not responsible for others in the workplace. Simple kinds of leadership may however sometimes be involved, such as overseeing a few more junior colleagues or students. 

Roles that are often of low complexity: Non-skilled and semi-skilled worker roles, simple clerical roles, administrative roles. Cash teller, blue-collar operator, administrative clerk. 

Choose this level of complexity when the role entails...

  • following instructions and routines

  • simple or no leadership responsibilities

  • limited autonomy and clear supervision.

Medium complexity

Medium complexity is the broadest category, and the one reflecting the largest proportion of work roles. In a medium-complexity role, the person works more independently. He/she will have to make own judgments and decisions without the support of a manual or instructions. The person may e.g. be required to make independent recommendations to clients and other stakeholders. Anticipating problems and acting to prevent them is also often required. The role may also include some supervisory responsibilities, e.g. managing a team, but not leading whole businesses. There is usually a fairly present supervisor who provides feedback. 

Roles that are commonly of medium complexity: Mid-level professional roles, some first-line supervisory roles. Store manager, sales team lead, journalist, controller, teacher, technician.

Choose this level of complexity...

  • as your default for white-collar positions

  • when the role entails autonomy and decision-making, but still with limited ramifications for the organisation

  • when the role entails leading people, but not leading businesses.

High complexity

A high complexity role is characterised by a high level of independence and responsibility. In a highly complex role, the incumbent has to handle various stakeholders, such as clients, other internal functions, team members with different kinds of expertise, vendors of complex services, regulatory bodies, etc. He/she has to drive complex projects forward, and makes decisions with big impact. These decisions, furthermore, often need to be made based on limited or ambiguous information. There is little immediate supervision: The person may need to seek out feedback and input him- or herself. Leadership responsibilities not only include leading people; they also entail leading operations or businesses. 

Roles that are commonly of high complexity: Executives and C suite positions, technical project managers, regional and national managers, functional managers, university professors, lead scientists. 

Choose this level of complexity when the role entails...

  • handling multiple and varied stakeholders

  • strategic leadership: leading organisations and/or businesses

  • making important decisions based on ambiguous information.

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