Ipsative vs. Normative

Imagine hammering a nail through a tough surface using the heel of a screwdriver.
Is it safe? Is it likely to get a good result?



   Assessments are tools that are effective and safe (legally, for the employer and for the employee) for their intended purpose when you use the right tool for the right job.

   For selection purposes you may ONLY use a normative assessment. All reputable test and assessment publishers explain that their ipsative assessments may not be used for hiring or personnel selection… and yet we encounter well-meaning HR folks still doing it because it’s what they are certified in.



Here is the difference:


Ipsative Assessments


   Ipsative assessments are scored through using forced choice questions and responses. The results produced indicate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the person being assessed. There is no objective comparison to any other individual. These tools are very useful as team building or as coaching instruments. They are ineffective as hiring and selection instruments.

   Ipsative assessments are developmental tools; they tell you very little as to the actual capability of the employee/candidate. When they produce their results in terms of colors, traffic signals, 4-digit codes, or the names of small forest animals they lack the credibility sought by most financial or analytically minded members of your leadership team.


Spare your workforce from “What kind of bunny are you?”


   What if you already use ipsative assessments? All is not lost! In combination with normative assessments they can provide interesting insight where there is variance discovered between “who they think they are” and “who they are”. This information is critical in the coaching, team building/formation and developmental roles.


Normative Assessments


   Normative assessments measure quantifiable attributes on individual scales. These scales are compared and measured against a “normed” population. (In our case, the working population of North America). The normed population is often represented by the well known “bell curve”.


   Since the normative assessment is comparing the candidate’s results to an actual population you can then make useful comparisons and determination about the attribute you’re measuring.



In other words- it works!
Its business impact is measurable! Its ROI can be calculated!