You would never think there is a short supply of train drivers, would you? Certainly, not by the numbers that apply for train driver positions in Victoria, Australia. In a recent paper, Ability Tests â€“ Good predictors of performance or just an expensive waste of time, presented at the 7th Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference in Adelaide, Denis Flores (Career Focus Pty Ltd) and his colleague, A Umemoto (Deakin University), described how they screened 7000+ applicants for train driver positions.
The aim of the study was to investigate whether assessments that measure abilities actually determine job performance. Specifically, they investigated the use of a battery of abilities tests as a selection tool for the role of suburban train drivers.
Train drivers usually carry out complex tasks and have heavy responsibilities. They require spatial, visual, and attention skills, strategic skills, situation awareness, time management skills and adequate communication skills.
Between 2002 and 2005 participants were drawn from a very large pool of applicants (7000+) and completed online ability tests. 360 attended assessment centres, completing paper ability tests and behavioural interviews, prior to selection for year-long training. 66 applicants commenced training and 52 completed training.
Scores on online ability tests, paper ability tests and behavioural interviews were compared with objective competency based assessment of performance during training.
The results indicated that online abilities tests and paper abilities tests are good predictors of successful performance during training. Moreover, three ability tests, Verbal Reasoning, Manual Dexterity and Letter Sequencing were the most predictive of training performance compared with other abilities.
Now, what about management?