Comparing the OPQ With the Saville Consulting Wave Personality Assessments

It’s difficult to change from a psychometric test that you have perhaps been using for many years to a new personality assessment that you may have heard relatively little about. We know because we underwent the same process.

When in doubt, sometimes busy humans think it’s best to leave things as they are! However, upon spending just a few minutes invesigating what really gives in the range of Saville Wave assessments, we decided that it was a “no brainer” as they say in Australia! It makes sense really…please read on!

The original author of the OPQ is Professor Peter Saville. Professor Saville was in fact the ‘S’ of SHL (‘H’ standing for Holdsworth and ‘L’ for Limited). He is responsible for the new Saville Wave, developed by him and his team at Saville Consulting. He has remarked in relation to the older OPQ that it was a great test in its day.

Nowadays however, we need newer, more modern and innovative tests that are relevant to a new and constantly evolving workplace. Looking at both the design of the Saville Wave and the content of the questions, it’s immediately noticeable that the questionnaire better reflects today’s workplace. The OPQ was written some 25 years ago. There was some updating of the questions in 1988, but mainly the items reflect the world as it was those years ago.

The Saville Wave has captured the modern world by asking questions related to networking, engaging others, comfort level with information technology, written communication, receiving feedback, encouraging others, developing strategy, identifying business opportunities, speed of learning, taking responsibility for big decisions, building rapport, sticking to decisions and more.

Remember, a lot of these concepts did not really exist 20+ years ago;networking for example was a whole different ball-game in the pre-internet world. Not to mention the fact that most of us did not have to deal with IT unless we were in an IT job, whereas nowadays, vast portions of the workforce must use computers. However, that’s not all.

Whilst the OPQ was validated following its production, the Saville Wave was designed within a research and validation centric model. This meant that all questions were validated internationally prior to publishing. These results were then published in the British Psychological Society’s Selection and Development Review.

Furthermore, the Saville Wave includes completely new scales which were not available within the OPQ all those years ago. For example, the Wave can directly assess strategic thinking, learning styles, self-assurance, motivating others, conflict resolution and integrity.

In terms of measuring different facets of behaviour, the OPQ measures to dimension (scale) level only and does not report on individual facets of behaviour. E.g., ‘persuaive’ is made up of ‘selling’, ‘negotiating’ and ‘convincing’ facets, but these are not independently validated or scored. Saville Wave on the other hand provides very rich interpretation at facet level.

For full Wave there are 109 separately scored facets. Facets provide insights into unique areas of individual difference and therefore facilitate better person job fit and development diagnostics.

A further innovation within the Saville Consulting Wave is that it has been designed to assess both talent and motive. This is useful as it may highlight for example that whilst a candidate is not very good at problem solving, they will give it and go and even do their best to improve. Or, whilst a candidate is very good at creating novel solutions, they prefer to go with the tried and tested.

Saville Wave distinguishes both effectiveness and motivation for 36 behavioural styles. This provides rich diagnostic information for selection, placement and development and is key to predicting sustained performance.

The model underlying any personality assessment is a crucial factor in both the validity and utility of the tool. Wave is built from a single model of behaviour with a common language for measuring and matching, behavioural style, motivation, competencies, culture, organisational environment and 360 degree performance. It is fully integrated from inception. OPQ is not multi-dimensional and relies on different measures and different models to arrive at total solutions.

When assessing a potential job-holder’s personality or when testing a current incumbent as part of a development process, we are looking for a true picture of that individual. There are many tests available on the market and many of them really do not hit the mark. For example, assessments which aim to paint a picture of your candidate on the basis of 4 simple scales!

Whilst the OPQ has always been a respected test, it offers a choice of ratings (normative) or rankings (ipsative) with a strong practitioner preference for ipsative as it controls for social desirability responding. Both ratings and rankings have unique advantages and disadvantages. In the case of rankings (ipsative), the resulting profile artificially exaggerates good and bad features. It is not possible to be good at everything or bad at everything. Hence we do not get a true picture of the candidate.

With the breakthrough combination of both ratings and rankings in a dual dynamic format, Wave provides the truest picture of an individual’s self-reported style to date. This provides increased validity over normative and ipsative scores on their own. This contributes significantly to improved validity and a truer picture of the individual.

Furthermore, whilst the OPQ is able to report on social-desirable responding, it cannot home in on it. By reporting statistically significant differences between ipsative and normative scores, Saville Wave homes in on exactly where distortion is likely to have occurred.

A hot question on the minds of test choosers is “how long does the test take to complete”! For the OPQ, it takes about 1 hour to complete the ipsative version alone. It provides no information on motivation or culture fit, nor individual facets of behaviour. Compare this to Saville Wave which takes about 35 minutes to complete and includes both effectiveness and motivation scores for 36 dimensions, and scores for 109 individual facets of behaviour.

It provides ipsative, normative and combined profiles in the one questionnaire. In addition, Wave reports cultural/environment enhancers and inhibitors. If even that is too long for your busy people, Saville Wave Focus, the shorter version of Wave is even shorter, taking around 15 minutes to complete and yet still offering exceptional reliability and validity.

Finally, the reason for using a personality assessment in the first place is to predict job performance. Saville Consulting has referred to this as “horsepower”. The technical term is Criterion Validity and this has a direct impact on return on investment. The more validity the better the people decisions. OPQ has good validity.

The published average composite scale validity is around 0.38. This is the average correlation of each scale with actual job competencies. However, for Saville Wave, the published average composite validity is higher at 0.46 (about 20% more predictive).

In addition, Wave predicts overall job proficiency at 0.38, and promotability at 0.59. 75% of Wave’s validities are 0.4 or better and 25% are between 0.55 and 0.70. Directing correlates 0.7 with ‘Leading People’. Add this information to study results released in the UK in summer 2008 which demonstrated that Saville Consulting Wave outperformed all competitor tests on the market in predicting job performance (including OPQ, 16PF, 15FQ+, Hogan Personality Inventory, MBTI, DISC and others). This in our view is the single biggest motivator to switching to the Saville Wave test.

– OPQ is a registered trademark of Saville & Holdsworth Limited
– Saville Wave is a registered trademark of Saville Consulting Group