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Business Spotlight

August 02, 2006|By Chris Wiebe

When U.S. soldiers returning home from World War II saturated the American job market, companies were suddenly faced with the daunting task of sifting through enormous pools of job applicants.

And it was during that boom that the Burbank-based corporation Psychological Services Inc. — which is celebrating its 60th anniversary — took shape, offering testing tools that enabled employers to screen applicants on a large scale, facilitating better matches between employers and prospective employees, said John Weiner, vice president of products and services.

"Employers recognize that people are a pretty important resource for companies — they really make a difference," he said. "What has led to making this kind of service important and valuable is that it's all about identifying people who are well-suited for the position and for the organization and who can be successful."

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Psychological Service's test materials draw upon decades of research into industrial and organizational psychology, assessing the aptitude of a potential employee and providing a profile of a test-taker's personality, motivation and interests, Weiner said.

Not only do these assessments help employers decide which applicants to interview, but the tests steer job applicants toward positions that suit them well, Weiner said.

"It really is doing a service to employees," Weiner said. "It's helping them get into a career where they are going to succeed in the long run. People naturally enjoy things that they are good at."

The catalog of Psychological Service's testing materials and computer software is used for a wide variety of positions, from administrative and customer-service jobs to senior-level executive positions, Weiner said. Though tests for most hourly jobs can be taken in about an hour on a computer and can afford employers immediate results, tests for prospective executives require a rigorous 4-hour assessment period, resulting in a thorough report composed by a psychologist, he said.

"It's quite a broad spectrum that we're covering," Weiner said.

Psychological Services administers more than 1 million pre-employment screening tests per year for companies including American Express, Union Bank of California and some local governments like the cities of Burbank and Glendale, Weiner said.

Glendale city staffers used an aptitude test as a part of their recruitment process for fire-fighter positions, said Matt Doyle, assistant director of administrative services.

"Often times when we get 1,000 or 2,000 applicants, obviously, we aren't going to be in a position to interview that many people," he said. "We will take the top-scoring candidates and advance them to another stage in the hiring process."

In addition to pre-employment screening, Psychological Services offers several licensing examinations, such as real-estate and cosmetology tests.

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