Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the RST?
  2. In what way is this test specific to regulatory staff? What factors does it address?
  3. Why was it created? What are its intended uses?
  4. Who created it?
  5. Who is it intended for?
  6. How was it created?
  7. When was it launched?
  8. Can I trust the results of the RST? What evidence is there that it works?
  9. Who has used it?
  10. How much does it cost?
  11. Is it worth the extra I will spend?
  12. What guidance is available for people who are asked to take the RST as part of the assessment processes for a job in regulatory services?
  13. What plans are there to develop it further?
  14. Is the RST registered with the British Psychological Society?
  15. Can I ensure that the RST won't discriminate against certain sections of society? Is it a fair and objective test?
  16. Is feedback available to those who have taken the RST?
  17. Is it possible to become an accredited user of the RST – is there a training course available?
  18. What is the process for using the RST?
  19. How can I start using the RST?

1. What is the RST?

The RST is a professionally designed psychometric assessment, designed to assess potential to carry out regulatory work. It has two components – a timed critical reasoning aspect and a personality profile. The critical reasoning element is designed to assess aptitude to read and understand written regulatory information quickly and accurately and takes 10 minutes. The personality component is designed to assess a range of other factors, critical for success in regulatory work (for a fuller description of these factors, please see below and elsewhere in this site), and is un-timed. Most people take about 20 minutes to complete this element. In total, the RST therefore takes about 30 minutes to complete.

2. In what way is this test specific to regulatory staff? What factors does it address?

As stated above, the RST covers the ability to read and understand written regulatory information quickly and accurately. The personality profile element covers a range of factors critical for success in regulatory roles, such as communication, assertiveness, personal organisation, resilience under pressure, integrity and ethics, belief in fairness and justice and a pragmatic and action-oriented approach to decision-making. It also includes a “work-style preference” scale, which gives an indication as to what extent someone may prefer either an "enforcement" or "educative" approach to carrying out regulatory work.

3. Why was it created? What are its intended uses?

The RST was created to help those appointing “regulatory services field officers” (RSFOs) make better, more informed decisions, i.e. to be better able to recognise those people likely to be more suited to and successful in regulatory roles, or not, as the case may be. In this context, it can be used in two major ways. Firstly, the Short Profile report is designed to be used in conjunction with candidate application forms, in order to assist with shortlisting. For a sample Short Profile Report, please click here. Secondly, the in-depth interview prompts report provides additional narrative of how the candidate is likely to manifest the identified behaviours in reality. Additionally, this report provides some suggested interview questions to probe the candidate’s likely capabilities in more detail. For a sample In-depth Interview Prompts Report, please click here. Thirdly, the RST can be used as an adjunct to developmental processes, including appraisal. For a sample Development Report, please click here.

4. Who created it?

The basic idea for the RST was formulated by Steve Greenfield, Head of Trading Standards @ Suffolk County Council and David Woollard, an HR and business-psychology consultant. Dr Paul Brewerton, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, lead the design and construction of the RST itself.

5. Who is it intended for?

The RST is intended to be applicable to any role that has a regulatory services field work component. It therefore covers roles in environmental health, trading standards, licensing, health and safety, food safety, community fire safety etc. It is also applicable to team-leadership or management roles, as long as the role involves some fieldwork.

6. How was it created?

The RST is a product of a rigorous research and design programme that took place between August 2006 and May 2007. (For a more in-depth explanation of the research and design programme, please click here). Initially, a number of stakeholders from throughout the regulatory services community were identified and asked a series of questions about what they thought were the characteristics of outstanding officers. A “conceptual framework” of the identified factors was constructed. Then, a series of questions were compiled to tap into these factors and piloted in two sites in England. The results were thoroughly statistically analysed, which resulted in the pilot version of the RST being streamlined. This final version of the RST was then validated for use with a sample of 85 serving RSFOs, drawn from 13 different authorities. This entailed each person taking the RST and their line-manager being asked to rate their capabilities on a range of different factors. The results were then correlated with each other, showing a strong and significant correlation, i.e. providing some strong evidence that the RST is predictive of performance in regulatory roles. Please see point 8 below for more detail.

7. When was it launched?

The RST was launched at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Conference in Manchester in June 2007 and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Conference in Nottingham in September 2007.

8. Can I trust the results of the RST? What evidence is there that it works?

There is a developing body of evidence, both quantitative and qualitative that the RST does indeed do what it purports to. Firstly, the validation study carried out in April-May 2007 produced a validity co-efficient of 0.49, where a co-efficient of 0 would indicate no predictive power, and a co-efficient of 1, perfect prediction. This compares very favourably with the predictiveness of other popular selection methods, such as structured interviews, which have been shown to have a validity co-efficient in the region of 0.44 (Anderson and Cunningham-Snell, 2000). Additionally, the statistical significance attached this analysis was p<0.001, meaning that there is less than one chance in a thousand that this is a chance correlation.

Qualitatively, the RST has proved popular with those who have used it, with most users having used it more than once. Feedback from users has been very positive. Additionally, many testimonials have been provided by satisfied users – please click here to read what users of the RST have said.

9. Who has used it?

The RST has been used by over 40 different organisations, in either the selection or development context. For a list of some of these organisations using the RST please click here.

10. How much does it cost?

Currently, in September 2015, both the “In-Depth Interview Prompts” and the “Development” Reports cost £60 per person. The “Short Profile” Report, which is designed to assist with shortlisting, costs £250 for up to 20 people. Additionally, various introductory offers are available for new users of the RST, such as a BOGOF for “In-Depth Interview Prompts”. Similarly, discounts are available for bulk-purchases. Please ask for details.

11. Is it worth the extra I will spend?

Yes. As described above, the RST is predictive of performance in the regulatory context, especially when used in conjunction with other well-designed selection methods based on the RST’s “conceptual framework” and any other factors which are relevant to the specific role in question. Whilst not perfect, this “multi-method, multi-rater” approach represents current best practice. Becoming skilled in its use will result in a steady improvement in the quality of selection decision-making, with a commensurate steady improvement in the quality of candidates being selected.

12. What guidance is available for people who are asked to take the RST as part of the assessment processes for a job in regulatory services?

Please click here to view a document designed to provide all the necessary advice and guidance for those people being asked to take the RST.

13. What plans are there to develop it further?

Whilst the RST is already a robust tool to assist with the selection and development of RSFOs, there are plans to develop it further. This is normal for any assessment of this nature, because useful information is always acquired in the practical application of such assessments.  Similarly, the context in which the instrument is designed to be used will change over time.  For example, 16PF, one of the first comprehensive assessments of human personality, is now in its 5th major edition – 16PF5. It is planned to broaden the “conceptual framework” of the RST to include some additional factors which are especially pertinent to the UK regulatory services context of 2015-16, whilst at the same time, broadening the scope of the “work-styles preference” aspect of the RST.

14. Is the RST registered with the British Psychological Society's (BPS) Psychological Testing Centre (PTC)?

At present (September 2015), the RST is not yet registered with the BPS's PTC, although the developmental project which is currently underway will address this issue.

15. Can I ensure that the RST won't discriminate against certain sections of society? Is it a fair and objective test?

The rigorous standards that were adopted in the design of the RST ensure that it is an objective assessment, as borne out by the results of the validation study carried out in 2007. Similarly, the data obtained at this time, together with all data obtained since, has been analysed to see if there are any significant statistical differences in the scores on any of the dimensions, attributable to such factors as gender, ethnic background, age etc. No such evidence has been found, i.e. there is no evidence to suggest that the RST is biased in this way.

16. Is feedback available to those who have taken the RST?

Yes. Feedback can be provided to those who have taken the RST – the report structures are designed to facilitate this. It is recommended that this is accompanied by a feedback discussion, carried out by a competent person. This means someone who has either been trained or coached in the use of the RST, or someone who has undertaken another suitable training programme in the application of psychometric assessment, such as the BPS Level B Qualification in Psychological Assessment.

17. Is it possible to become an accredited user of the RST – is there a training course available?

Yes. A one-day training course is available for those wishing to become an accredited user of the RST. Please contact us for more details. Similarly, the required tuition can also be acquired on a one-to-one basis, either in-person or via the telephone. Again, please contact us for details.

18. What is the process for using the RST?

The RST is only available on-line. This has been done to protect the integrity of test and the intellectual property rights that surround it. In order to take the RST, you will need to be provided with a Project Code and User Identification Code by us. This can be acrried out in a matter of minutes.  As mentioned above, it takes most people approximately 30 minutes to complete the RST, with the basic results being available shortly after completion.

19. How can I start using the RST?

It is always a good idea to have a go at any psychometric assessment oneself, before inflicting it on others! Therefore, we offer all organisations a complimentary, introductory freebie to assist in this regard. This process involves the provision of a user-identification number, so that you can go to the RST web-site and take the assessment. Your results are then down-loaded and an initial profile compiled. This is then discussed with you, usually via a telephone conversation, to explore your factor scores in more detail. Finally, a summary report is compiled, which is then e-mailed to you.

In order to use the RST in your first real live situation, you will then need either to undertake the one-day training programme or be supported through your first project, with the assistance of some expert guidance.  There may be an additional charge for this guidance, depending on the particular needs of the situation.  Please contact us to discuss your circumstances in more detail.

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Developing the RST

The RST was originally launched in 2007, with various interim reviews being carried out in subsequent years, most notably in 2011. Best practice with any psychometric assessment requires that a systematic review be carried out from time-to-time and a thorough developmental process is now underway, with the ultimate aim of creating “RST2”. [read more]