A large private security organization provides security solutions to meet the specific needs of thousands of businesses. Their core business is security services, which includes specialized guarding, mobile guarding, remote guarding and corporate risk management.

The organization has long recognized the value of psychological screening of armed officer candidates during the selection phase. Recently, they approached us to provide a new psychological assessment, one that met four specific criteria:

  • Tailored to the organization’s job requirements
  • Easily deployed in multiple geographic locations
  • Validated for use in their organization
  • Free from unjustified adverse impact

Proposed Solution

We recommended the 16pf® Protective Services Report (16pf PSR), as it was specifically designed for the evaluation of candidates for public-safety-related positions and met the criteria outlined above. The client organization agreed, since they intended to use the instrument to assess armed security officer candidates.

The 16pf PSR is centered on four dimensions that relate to public safety performance: Emotional Adjustment (EA), Integrity/Control (IC), Intellectual Efficiency (IE), and Interpersonal Relations (IR). These four dimensions succinctly capture the essence of public safety work and serve to inform decisions on the selection of candidates for positions such as the armed officers the organization would screen. The 16pf PSR Dimensions are valid and reliable predictors of a number of meaningful outcomes such as training performance, positive and negative work behaviors, job-specific knowledge, and relations with other officers.

There were two key phases in delivering the 16pf PSR to the organization – conducting a validation study and tailoring a report for use by their hiring managers.

Phase I: Completing the Validation Study

In the first part of the study, officers completed the 16pf Questionnaire which provided an understanding of the group’s personality. The second part of the study focused on collecting performance data on the officers from their direct managers.

We conducted a validation study using the organization’s current armed officers in order to:

  • Demonstrate that the public safety dimensions were linked to good performance for their officers
  • Determine cutoff scores for use in future hiring

With both sets of data collected, our analysts began the process of determining which of the 16pf PSR Dimensions were indicative of good performance, and to what degree. Overall, the organization’s armed officers looked very similar to other protective service occupations. The officers displayed average scores on both Intellectual Efficiency and Interpersonal Relations, while having high average scores on both Emotional Adjustment and Integrity/Control. This is a very common pattern of scores for those working in high-risk occupations where coping skills and dependability are essential.

Next, the armed officers’ public safety dimension scores were analyzed to determine which of the scores were predictive of performance in the position. The performance measure used was tailored for the organization and included ratings on Job Knowledge, Stress Tolerance, Use of Force, and Team Orientation, among others. The dimensions showed the expected trend of a positive relationship with the performance dimensions.

Committed to providing ongoing superior service to clients, the security organization recognized the need for a selection tool that was both scientifically proven to predict security officer performance and aligned with industry best practices. Our 16pf PSR met the security organization’s high standards and expectations.

Finally, the public safety dimension scores were examined for any potential adverse impact within the armed security officer sample gathered from the organization. The dimension scores were compared across the different racial categories and no differences were found to exist.

As an extension of the adverse impact analyses, the public safety dimensions were examined for potential differences within the gender categories. The organization also requested that the dimensions be examined for any potential age differences, specifically for those younger than 40 as well as those older than 40. There were no interpretable differences among these protected groups, strengthening the case for the 16pf PSR as a viable and legal selection measure for armed security officers within this private security organization.

Phase II: Delivering a Tailored Report

The organization also required an easily-interpreted and computer-delivered report. The delivery of the report was accomplished using our online platform which allows easy Internet access to the 16pf Questionnaire by the organization’s offices across the United States. Through this platform each office could receive their 16pf PSR reports instantly via email.

We created the report utilizing color-coded risk ratings across three categories for each of the 16pf PSR Dimensions. The three risk categories were determined from a data analysis of the armed security officers already assessed by the organization, so that only those who had a high likelihood of success would be screened in as low risk. The red-yellow-green model (high, moderate, and low risk) enables their managers to quickly and easily distinguish between armed officer candidates likely to perform well overall and those who are likely to demonstrate difficulties in any of the given job-relevant areas.

As an extension of the report, we also developed suggested follow-up inquiries for their managers to use when interviewing candidates. These follow-up questions were linked to the relevant public safety dimensions identified as being potentially problematic for candidates. These suggested interview questions allow the managers to quickly explore the higher-risk areas with the candidate to determine whether or not they should progress in the hiring process. By linking the questions back to the dimensions, managers are able to verify and reconcile the assessment results and have more flexibility in terms of hiring decisions.

Results: Building a Winning Team

Pleased with both the results of the validation work and the subsequent report we designed, this organization deployed the assessment solution and to date have used the report to screen more than 6,000 armed security officer candidates.

The accuracy of the tailored 16pf PSR has enabled them to hire many successful armed officers and likely avoid on-boarding problematic ones as a result of its implementation. Furthermore, when candidates with borderline reports were hired despite the 16pf PSR’s results, the organization consistently found that the officers showed more difficulties in the areas the 16pf PSR had flagged as higher risk.

Through a combination of teamwork, assessment knowledge, and innovative report tailoring, we met the needs of this private security organization and built a collaborative working relationship that enables them to continue to provide competent armed security officers to their clientele.