In order to become a member for the Ontario police force, as elsewhere across the world, one must first pass a series of evaluations, one of which is called the B-PAD, or Behavioral Personnel Assessment Device, test. This is a “behaviorally-based public safety assessment tool” that “requires applicants to demonstrate their responses to scenarios rather than merely describe what they would do.” The goal is to give interviewers an understanding of how an applicant will react in various situations that are ethically difficult and test interpersonal skills.
What Is Being Tested
Three main skills are tested by a B-PAD. They are:
- Basic Problem Solving Skills – That is, how one finds solutions to difficult problems that involve various factors or demand the resolution of conflicting demands from various parties.
- Interpersonal Skills – That is, how an individual conducts his or herself in the presence of others and how he or she is able to handle his or herself when confronted by disagreeable personalities.
- Ethical Decision-Making Skills – That is, how an individual navigates through ethically murky situations, in which no “correct” decision is readily available.
How These Are Tested
B-PAD tests are conducted by having an applicant watch a series of simulations, after each of which the applicant is asked to respond as if he or she were in the situation. Each response is videotaped so that a series of raters not then present can evaluate the responses in order to secure the most-unbiased scores possible.
Interviewers’ direction and rating sheets are carefully crafted to minimize interaction between interviewer and applicant, to direct the focus more on applicants’ specific responses. These sheets comprise four sections:
- A description of each scene, in order to prime the applicant for what he or she is about to view.
- Interview questions, which should under no circumstances be deviated from, in order to ensure consistent testing from applicant to applicant.
- Samples of both strong and weak responses, in order to compare with applicants’ responses.
- The three main scoring competencies, which were mentioned above in the “What Is Being Tested Section.”
Why The B-PAD Is Trusted
This style of test has been proven to be successfully predict competence among applicants and behavioral actions of future employees. In addition to this, the test has been now created and proven to be “independent of rater race and sex, as well as ratees race and sex,” thus to eliminate bias as much as possible from the application process.
Some such biases that the test works to eliminate are:
- Halo Effect – That is, the ability of one impression to influence the opinion of an unrelated area, such as a dealership with a high-end car surrounded with mediocre vehicles.
- Leniency/Severity Bias – That is, when one often consistently scores one’s work too high or too low, respectively.
- Central Tendency – That is, when one compares with a score with the center of a data set, calculated by the mean, median, or mode.
- Personal Bias/Rater’s Mood – That is, how the rater feels at a given moment or deeply held prejudices owned by the rater.