Ipsative VS Normative Assessments: which is best for your business?


Ipsative VS Normative Assessments: which is best for your business?
Personality tests, psychometric assessments and job-fit tests are terms used interchangeably to describe the objective tests used to screen job candidates, promote internally, and develop employees. There are two basic types of assessments – ipsative and normative – and much debate about which is better. While there are clear differences between the two, neither is ‘better’ than the other. Both have their place, and are often used in tandem during the recruitment and development phase of an employee’s lifecycle.

At the outset, ipsative and normative tests pose different kinds of questions. The ipsative test asks the participant to choose between one of two extremes, while the normative test allows the option of an in-between response between two extremes. The ipsative test might ask the test taker, for example, whether they are either extremely introverted or extroverted, when in fact most of us are somewhere in between. Ipsative assessments are thus described as fickle, as they can be influenced by how the assessment taker feels at the time of the test.

Ipsative tests identify the balance of characteristics within an individual. An ipsative test might identify someone’s strongest personality characteristic, for example, and also show which characteristics they are weakest in. What it doesn’t indicate is how that person compares to another based on those characteristics. High quality ipsative assessments, such as DISCflex, allow the candidate to invite others to give feedback on them. This enables a comparison between how the candidate feels and thinks they behave and how others see them, leading to coaching and developmental opportunities for the candidate, and often to behavioural change when dealing with others.

Ipsative tests are beneficial for giving customised advice, such as in vocational guidance. However, the ipsative test does not compare individuals to a benchmark that is crucial for screening, selection and promotion decisions.

This is where normative tests come in, where the candidate’s responses are standardised against a benchmark. Normative tests such as Prevue can give you an idea of how people, or groups of people, measure up against one another. Normative testing is benchmarked against, say, the requirements for a particular role. This means that you can be very specific as you search for a new candidate, a coaching opportunity, or for developing a succession plan within your organisation. It also means that when you have a good candidate who may not fit the role they are currently applying for, you can apply their results against a number of different benchmarks within your organisation to find a best fit. This can be applied to current employees as well, ensuring that you always have the right person in the right role. Normative test results also allow you to target coaching more effectively when you consider succession planning or promotion of an individual in your organisation.

At Assess to Succeed, we believe that there is a place for both kinds of assessment in every organisation. Using ipsative and normative assessments in tandem can massively reduce your staff turnover, making them a valuable long-term investment. If you would like to learn more about how psychometric assessments can add value to your organisation, contact us now to discuss a tailored HR solution for your business.

This article was adapted from an original article by K Danderfer for PrevueHR.