Sigma Survey for Security Officers

Assesses cognitive skills/judgment/report writing and predicts job performance.


Douglas N. Jackson, Ph.D. © 1993, 2003

The Sigma Survey for Security Officers (SSSO) is an objective, reliable, and highly valid assessment for screening job applicants for the position of security officer. The SSSO uses job-relevant questions to identify individuals with the cognitive skills necessary to use sound judgment in security situations and to write credible incident reports.


• The selection and placement of security professionals.


Strong Predictor of Job Performance
The ability to write good incident reports is important in security work because their accuracy and credibility are often crucial as court evidence in the administration of justice. Research has found that the SSSO distinguishes between job candidates who can and cannot prepare satisfactory incident reports. The SSSO also measures general cognitive ability, which has been found to be one of the best predictors of job performance for virtually all jobs. More effective than resumes, education, reference or interviews.

Superior Development
Questions were carefully selected to be job relevant, both because such items are more acceptable to candidates and employers, and because the use of job-relevant content in applicant screening tests is very much more likely to be resistant to legal challenge.

SSSO Sections

Security Problem Solving: Consists of descriptions of five events requiring decisions by a security officer, such as providing directions at a corporate property entrance, observing a theft suspect at a mall, interpreting a work schedule, and adhering to company policy regarding permitting access to corporate headquarters at night. Every situation is followed by a series of questions each requiring a correct answer from the job applicant.

Incident Report Writing: Consists of items that allow for the evaluation of typical sentences contained in incident reports for correct grammatical usage (Grammar and Punctuation subsection), and assesses knowledge of the correct spelling of words likely to be found in an incident report, such as suspect (Spelling subsection).

Norms for the SSSO are based on a sample of 4040 job candidates applying for a security officer position.

The reliability coefficients for the SSSO vary between .90 and .95.

In a validity study SSSO scores were found to correlate .65 with the quality of incident reports using incumbent security officers in a work sample environment. In that study, individuals showed increasingly higher percentages of satisfactory reports as SSSO scores increased from low to high (see figure below). The SSSO shows good convergent validity; validity coefficients for the three components of cognitive ability measured by the SSSO range from .43 to .53.

Fax-in Scoring
After an applicant completes the SSSO, the answer sheet is faxed to a toll-free number. The fax-in scoring system generates the report and the SSSO report is returned in minutes. The materials required for fax-in scoring are SSSO test manual, question booklet and answer sheet.


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Additional information

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Scoring Options



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