Psychometric test for NHS chief


CANDIDATES being interviewed for the role of Chief Executive at NHS Lothian are being psychologically evaluated in a bid to end its bullying culture

Final interviews for the top position at the troubled health board are being carried out today, with interviewees undergoing psychometric testing as part of the process for the £173,840 a year job.

NHS Lothian was the subject of a recent independent review ordered by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, which found the board had an “inappropriate management culture” originating from the top level.

The independent study of NHS Lothian, released in May, said interviews with staff depicted an organisation where being bullied was common at certain levels.

It said the management styles described by staff, and a number of alleged incidents highlighted during interviews and focus groups, could be described as “creating an undermining, intimidating, demeaning, threatening and hostile working environment for some staff”.

The psychometric tests, which will quiz candidates on their emotions and feelings, have been filled out online by candidates ahead of today’s final interview.

It is believed to be the first time such testing has been given to aspiring candidates for the chief executive role.

Chairman Dr Charles Winstanley revealed in an update to the NHS Lothian board: “Shortlisted candidates will be psychometrically evaluated, principally to assure the panel that leadership styles are not at odds with NHS Lothian’s desired management behaviours.”

Former chief executive, Professor James Barbour, quit after spending more than a decade in the job in April this year.

He resigned just before a report by the David Bowles and Associates, found a “bullying culture” in parts of the health board was rife.

The troubled health board has also been rocketed by waiting list scandals, with more than 72,000 patients currently waiting longer than they should do for treatment.

It emerged earlier this year that patient’s medical records and personal details would be passed on to private hospitals in a bid to cut down on waiting list times.

Following Prof Barbour’s resignation, Tim Davison was brought in from NHS Lanarkshire as interim chief executive.

It is hoped the psychometric tests, will lead to a more open culture which health bosses want to promote.

Alison Denton, who is trained in psychometric testing and is programme director of the Masters course in coaching course run by Napier University, said the test could be useful as part of the recruitment process.

She said: “Psychometrics can only be as good as the processes that have gone before to identify the style of leadership Lothian need right now.

“Any manager has to use a lot of different styles to be effective.

“I can understand their desires to have certain behaviours but often workplaces say they want to be inclusive but there is also a lot of external pressure to be decisive and to make decisions quickly.

“Work is complicated. There’s a lot of pressure, particularly in the NHS and there’s a lot of change to drive through. The successful candidate is not going to be universally popular.”

Alan Boyter, director of human resources and organisational development at the health board, said: “Psychometric testing is commonly used to support the recruitment and selection process in posts of this seniority.

“The tests are based on 50 years’ worth of research and provide an insight into personality and help to form the interview questions and post-interview discussion by looking at verbal, numerical and problem-solving skills and reasoning.

“The test is not used in isolation and forms only part of the whole recruitment process, but it can be useful to predict job performance and suitability.”