Don’t make it cheap; Interpretation is a skill

In 2002 I was invited by Air Force Selection Board, Dehradun for a talk on, “Psychometric Applications in Defense.” I concentrated on the development of interpretation skills. In fact, Board was facing the problems from the retired personnel who were running coaching centers for the aspirants of Air Force. One senior psychologist posed a question, “What should we do when we suspect that the data on the psychological test are all manipulated?”

This has been the major problem with all selection boards. In government sector “every job is every body’s job”. Skill development is not possible with this slogan. Rest assures one cannot develop a skill without being honest with oneself. Therefore, you will find experts in such departments, not the skilled professionals who can use the data for future purposes. This is true with almost all government departments where they justify their inefficiency by suggesting purchasing latest equipment for micro details.

Senior executives are ideally busy either in managing the resources or politicking. Rather fresher, are engaged in such jobs of data collection, analysis of data and interpretation of data. Defense services are not free from such problems. As a result, those who were posted in Selection Board and got exposure to psychometric applications, they after retirement start coaching centers and prepare the job aspirants who fill the questionnaire as per the standards of Selection Board. It was visible through the hoardings the coaching centers were using for their publicity.

“I understand you have three tire system of Selection. That is psychological testing, group discussions and actual performance in the field.  With experience, you must have carried out correlation studies among the three. If not, you must have observed the candidate who performs best in situational tests how does he reflect in group discussions or on psychological tests. With this knowledge you can accept or reject the psychological test,” I attempted to help him. Later on, Mr. Cherian, the President asked me, “How many times have you been to Selection Board?”

Interpretation is a lifetime job. One has to evolve within. Otherwise, the organization will be rotating the scientist for the sake of transfer policy and he will be justifying his failures by dressing up like Einstein.

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