How to prove inference capability

In projects we often to conclusions, by unconsciously making incorrect inferences based on the facts given. Making implicit information given to explicit facts.

Especially when it comes to Business Analysis and Testing this skill is essential. For these roles you need people that are making the correct inferences without any implicit assumptions that are not explicitly been given.

What I do, during the selection process I give them a little test. The test is called ‘The Uncritical Inference Test’ and was invented by William V. Haney (if I am informed correctly).

This test tries to show how we jump to conclusions, by unconsciously making incorrect inferences
based on the facts given. It will also test the ability to evaluate accurately.

The test follows these steps:

  1. You read a story in which you should treat all the information in the story as true and
    accurate.
  2. You need to read the statements and work out whether you find them: True, False or unsure.
    True = A definitely True statement about the information given in the story.
    False = A definitely False statement about the information given in the story.
    Unsure =  A statement that could be true or false but based on the information in the story, you
    cannot tell which, for certain. So you are unsure to some degree.
  3. Once you have answered a question, please do not go back and change the answer once you see
    later questions.
  4. Note: There is no time limit on this test and you may refer back to the story as often as you like.

Here is a sample test (you can find many more on the internet) to get the idea:

Story:

A white van parked in the drive of 70 Higg’s Road has “Ruddenklau Electrical Nelson Ltd” painted on the side of it in large red letters.

Statements

  1. The colour of the van parked in the drive of 70 Higg’s Road is white.
  2. There are no red letters painted on the side of this van.
  3. An electrical appliance has broken down at 70 Higg’s Road
  4. The van belongs to Mr Ruddenklau.

This test its pretty simple, but as I said, on the internet you find many more and far more complex story and statement combinations.

In assessment centre for the above mentioned roles, we used this concept a couple of times and it was great to see the difference between the applicants. The ones you found not to bad during the interview failed big time in that test and others that went through the interview quite OK have been outstanding during that test. Of course its no the only criteria you should make your selection on, but its one important item by finding the right people for the job.

What kind of tests or methods do you use to prove the inference capability?

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Torsten J. Koerting

Torsten J. Koerting is a project management-, paragliding- and Outdoor Enthusiast, Consultant, Author of several books and engaged as a speaker at many conferences. As Managing Partner at projectyzer he is specialised in supporting companies and organisations in reinventing their strategy as well as turning projects around that are in trouble. He worked in Europe, US and Australia for more than 20 years for global Blue Chips. He does hold the German and Australian Citizenship and lives with his wife and two kids between Europe and Australia. He is also a certified Bank Clerk, Executive Bachelor and Project Management Professional (PMI) and used to be Board Member of the PMI Queensland Chapter (Australia).

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  1. […] Torsten J. Koerting | How to prove inference capability http://www.torstenkoerting.com/2010/01/18/how-to-prove-inference-capability – view page – cached In projects we often to conclusions, by unconsciously making incorrect inferences based on the facts given. Making implicit information given to explicit facts. […]

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