This case study is a summary of the following thesis: Du Plessis, E. (2019). Validation of the Prospect Screener for the selection of entry-level service industry employees in the South African context [Master’s thesis, North-West University]. Boloka Institutional Repository. https://repository.nwu.ac.za/handle/10394/33754


Background


Organisational resources invested in shortlisting job applicants and running interview panels are merely the start of the cost-intensive process of hiring the right person for the role. Further resources will be invested in the selected candidate by way of training, development, and other employee benefits. Ideally, organisations want selected candidates to show return on investment and have low employee turnover rates. One of the most effective ways to select the right employees is to incorporate reliable and valid psychometric instruments. By using short psychometric tests as the first screening step, organisations can effectively screen out the least suitable candidates before investing in further, more costly aspects of the hiring process. The Prospect Screener is a South African tool that provides a preliminary screening of basic verbal and numerical ability, detail-orientation, and some aspects of personality.


Study design

With the aim of validating the effectiveness of the Prospect Screener, a sample of 371 South African entry-level employees working in the service industry was assessed using the Prospect Screener, the Basic Traits Inventory (a big five personality measure), the Verbatim (measure of verbal reasoning ability), and the Numeratum (a measure of numerical reasoning ability). The psychometric properties of this validation study are presented below.


Outcome

Key results of the validation study of the Prospect Screener:

  • Reliability – very good internal consistency was found for the Detail-checking (α = .85) and the Work Styles scales (α = .80). However, the Words (α = .56) and Numbers (α = .57) scales were not satisfactory, which could be a result of the fewer items in these scales*.
  • Sound construct validity was demonstrated in the statistically significant correlations between the Prospect Screener scales and scales that measure the same constructs from the other instruments used in this study.
  • The overall Prospect Screener score effectively distinguished between high- and low performing candidates, indicating sound differential validity.
  • Good structural validity of the current theoretical model was supported by confirmatory factor analysis results.
  • Sound predictive validity was shown in the results from regression analysis. The Words scale predicted scores on the Verbatim, the Numbers scale predicted scores on the Numeratum, and the Emotional Stability and Dependability scales predicted scores on the Neuroticism and Conscientiousness scales, respectively.


The results from this study support the validity and reliability of the Prospect Screener and, therefore, confirms its effectiveness in identifying viable candidates for further job selection processes in the South African service industry.

*Note. More recent research, in the Prospect Screener manual, suggests that ordinal coefficient alpha and hierarchical omega may be more appropriate indicators of reliability for these dichotomous scales.