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Background to Alva's test profile generator

Learn more about how we created a data-driven tool for test profiles

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

Choosing the right test profile is a key step to a successful selection process. At Alva, we have always offered our users profiles that are based on existing academic research on what predict job performance in different broad job roles, such as sales, people leadership, and technical roles. Now, we also offer a second route: To generate a test profile based on job titles. This is a way for us at Alva to increase the flexibility we offer our users, and at the same time become even more data-driven in our recommendations.

The mapping of job roles to personality and logical ability

Alva's test profile generator enables you to choose one or several job titles and, based on this, get a recommended test profile to use in the selection. This is made possible by an extensive mapping of role requirements to personality and logical ability.

The mapping is based on a large open-source dataset provided by the American service O*net, which gathers data related to occupational sciences. In this dataset, the top soft skill requirements have been ranked for over 1,000 job roles. To rate a certain role, the rater either has to hold the job him- or herself, be an occupational expert, or be a professional job analyst. This means that raters have very good insight into what the job entails.

The demands are phrased as so-called work styles, which are broad soft skills, such as Ambition, Attention to detail, and Social Orientation. These work styles have in turn been linked to the five factor personality traits, as well as to logical ability. This work was initially performed by well-renowned researchers Paul R. Sackett and Philip T. Walmsley, and based on their work, the People Science team at Alva performed a similar mapping to our own five factor test and logic test.

Combining more than one job role for more nuance

A key feature of Alva's test profile generator is that you can combine up to three job titles when generating a profile. This functionality is based on the insight that in recruitment, you are often looking for a combination of demands from different roles. For instance, you as a recruiter may not be looking for "only" an accountant, but an accountant who can also be a project manager. By combining these job titles, the system will generate a test profile that takes both these sets of demands into account.

Defining complexity

A test profile also needs to specify the level of strictness i.e., how narrow the ranges should be for what qualifies as an ideal profile (ie., 100% role fit). At Alva, we wanted the test profile generator to be able to account for the varying needs for strictness in different roles. There are primarily two factors that determine how strict a profile should be: The complexity of the role in question, and how exclusive you want to be in your selection. Hence, we developed a small set of questions for the user to respond to, in order to determine these two factors.

First, the questions about complexity were based on existing frameworks for role hierarchies in working life. After careful discussions about the core features of complexity in a role, two key features were chosen: Demand for independent work and decision-making, and demand for complex information-processing.

Second, the level of exclusivity has more to do with the purpose of the process and the candidate pool that one expects. If the purpose of the process is to identify only high-potential candidates with exceptional performance, the profile will need to be more strict. If the purpose is rather to screen out candidates that are a definite bad fit for the role, the profile can be more inclusive. Similarly, if you as a recruiter expect a very high volume of candidates, you may need a stricter profile to be able to differentiate properly. Conversely, if you are expecting few qualified candidates, you want a profile that is inclusive enough not to miss any potential hire.

Depending on your responses, the profile generated will be more or less strict. In other words, the range within which the candidate must fall to get 100% role fit will be more or less narrow.

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