Psychometric testing: why use it in recruitment

Psychometric testing sounds like a big word, but it basically refers to the measurement of the mind. Unlike facets such as education, skills, experience, appearance and punctuality, the behavioural traits and personality of a candidate can be much more difficult to assess during an interview. With psychometric testing, employers can gauge the future performance of a candidate and hopefully improve employee retention by making successful hiring decisions.

Some employers choose to use psychometric testing during their recruitment process to get a more holistic evaluation of a candidate and secure the best fit for the role. Of course, measuring behaviour and personality can be quite subjective, and while there’s been some debate over the value of psychometric testing, those who use it believe that it can give a more objective overview of a candidate’s character, strengths, weaknesses and working style. Typically, a psychometric test should never be used in isolation, but as one component of a wider, integrated evaluation strategy.

How psychometric testing aids recruitment decisions

Psychometric testing can measure a number of attributes including intelligence, critical reasoning, motivation and personality profile. An interview process can be fairly subjective and although employers will normally assess skills and experience fairly accurately, attempting to determine a candidate’s aligned values is usually left to gut instinct.

A psychometric test aims to provide measurable, objective data that can provide a better all-round view of a candidate’s suitability. It could be argued that psychometric testing offers some ‘scientific’ credibility and objectivity to the process of recruiting. It perhaps provides a more fair and accurate way of assessing a candidate, as all applicants will be given a standardised test.

Traditionally, these tests have taken the form of pen and paper, multiple choice questionnaires, but increasingly they’re moving into a digital realm. This means they can be quick and easy to integrate into any stage of the recruitment process and results can be tabulated easily.

Some organisations often favour psychometric testing as a way of screening (and subsequently eliminating) large amounts of candidates at the start of a recruitment drive. In this case, psychometric testing could help to drastically reduce the hiring manager’s workload, as it helps to swiftly identify a smaller pool of suitable applicants who have the potential to perform well in the later stages of the interview process.

Commonly used Psychometric Tests

Some of the more common tests that have been used by organisations include the Big Five Profile which aims to measure a candidate’s core personality traits based on the Big Five Model and the 16 Personality-Factor test which aims to ascertain a candidate’s dominant personality traits. Other tests like the Stanford-Binet 5 measure IQ and the Situational Judgment Test (SJT) assesses a candidate’s approach to solving work related problems.

In terms of personality, the tests can give an indication of the working style favoured by a candidate and how they interact with both their environment and fellow workers.

The tests are helpful at analysing the more ‘hidden’ traits of an individual in the instance where formal education and past experience will not always provide a clear, up-to-date assessment of these personal skills.

Verbal and numerical tests

This method is used to give an indication of a candidate’s ability to process both verbal and numerical information while working under a time limit. Such aptitude tests, for example, could help to provide a better, more realistic and current view of a candidate’s abilities than a formal certificate of education. These tests are conducted either prior to or on the assessment day, on or offline.

While there are so many different types of tests, they are generally used to measure how people differ in their motivation, values, priorities and opinions with regard to different tasks and situations. For employers, having a clear idea of business needs helps with shortlisting tests that can evaluate characteristics they are searching for in potential candidates

One thing that employers should take note of however, is to have appropriate allowances for candidates requiring reasonable adjustments or for whom English is not their first language.

Know the business needs 

Finally, employers should be aware that psychometric tests are only helpful to a certain extent. There are some limitations to such tests if your company does not have a well-established measures of job performance. Without quantitative measures of employee performance on the job, there is no basis for statistical correlations of how well psychometric tests or any other kind of tests predict performance.

From sourcing for the best candidates to shortlisting them, we employ rigorous practices to verify candidates, using a combination of methods from behavioural based interviewing, psychometric and technical testing. Learn more about our recruitment services here.

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