Thematic Assessment of Executives

by Sidney Levy



The assessment of personnel is a topic that recurrently arouses mixed and troubled feelings. Many writers clearly have a narrow idea of the nature of psychological testing. One of their basic sets of assumptions seems to be that all psychological testing is blindly normative and that its customary effect is to discard men of great potential contribution because they answer ridiculous questions in nonconforming ways. The purpose of this article is not to answer these charges or attempt directly to argue them. Rather, it seems useful to provide some greater content to the discussion of psychological testing by describing some aspects of how it has been done by one organization. It seems reasonable to believe that business will continue to use many ways of assessing personnel. For some purposes a rapidly reached score on a paper-and-pencil test or battery may serve to reduce the hazards to company and applicant of hiring first-come first-served or choosing on the basis of the hirer's on-the-spot reactions. In other cases, projective techniques will remain valuable, being one of the few approaches available to assess intangible and subtle aspects of personality and thereby to amplify the chances of making a more informed decision in a difficult area of judgment.

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