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Psychometric Testing in Recruitment – Overkill or Underrated?

psychometric testing alex wilkins

What was once primarily used to hire senior managers and top-level executives, psychometric testing has now made its way across all industries and all levels within different companies. 

Psychometric testing is no longer a thing of the past, they’re a much-needed tool in today’s recruitment process.

But what is the purpose of using psychometric testing? What benefits will hiring managers gain from its use during the recruitment process? How should an organisation implement them? 

Organisational Psychologist Amantha Imber describes psychometric tests as “a scientifically validated way of assessing certain competencies and mental capabilities, and even working styles”.

In this two-part interview series, we unpack everything there is to know about psychometric testing and its application in recruitment with Alex Wilkins, our trusted registered Psychologist (MAPS) and Organisational Psychology registrar. 

Alex has over 8 years of corporate experience, working predominantly within the government sector and financial services industry, with wide professional experience across the areas of risk assessment, selection, counselling, coaching, interviewing and group facilitation.

So let’s get started. 

 

Young architect student being interviewed for job in design company,having conversations about successful startup concept with cup of tea sitting in coworking with wifi and laptop

Q: Alex, to put it simply, what is psychometric testing? Are there different types of psychometric testing? 

AW: Psychometric testing is a tool for measuring specific and relevant personal attributes, and facilitates fair and accurate comparisons across individuals. In the workplace, they are most often used in talent selection and career development.

There are a wide variety of psychometric tests available, with the most common assessments used in the workplace can be broadly grouped into two categories:

  1. Aptitude or cognitive ability-based assessments (e.g. numerical, verbal, abstract reasoning, emotional intelligence, technical skills, and error-checking) 
  2. Self-report style questionnaires on personal characteristics (e.g. personality, leadership style, attitudes, values, and motivation).


Q: What are the key benefits of using psychometric testing for recruitment purposes? 

AW: In selection, our aim is to identify the candidate who has the greatest potential to perform well in the role.

Psychometric tests undergo rigorous evaluation to confirm their validity (i.e. it measures what it purports to) and reliability (i.e. results are consistent). 

So, proper psychometric testing can make reliable predictions about a candidates’ job performance against the job competencies, role and organisational fit. Once selected, it can also provide additional insights for managers on how to best support and motivate them to succeed.

In particular, cognitive ability assessments provide the strongest predictions for work performance – for example, higher scorers will absorb job knowledge and training more quickly than their peers. Personality assessments can also provide powerful insights for performance against critical job competencies.

An optimised recruitment process utilising psychometric testing will ensure that you arrive at a high-quality shortlist faster, and with less effort. Selection decisions can be made more easily, and with greater confidence.

 

Young female applicant in white shirt answering questions of employers while sitting in front of them

Q: Are there any specific roles, organisations or sectors that are better suited to use psychometric testing in the hiring process?

AW: No, not at all, psychometric testing can be used across the board. Assessments need not be prohibitively expensive and can provide a benefit to the selection process for any role.

My rule of thumb is that if the role is critical to the success of your organisation, all the more reason to utilise an assessment approach that can help you to select the highest potential candidates.

 

Q: In your experience, how should an organisation determine which psychometric test is best for them? 

AW: There is no single assessment that will ‘fit’ your organisation. Some psychometric tests (or a combination) will be more suitable than others, depending on the competencies you require within the role.

Seek expert advice to support you in selecting the right assessments and approach to provide the best return on investment.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a company looking to implement psychometric testing into their hiring process?

AW: It is important to define the problem before moving into evaluating potential solutions.

Here are some questions I typically ask my clients to consider:

  • What are the critical competencies of the role(s) you are assessing? (If unsure, a job analysis may be needed as a starting point.)
  • How might your assessment process provide value beyond the initial selection process (e.g. on-boarding, coaching & development)?
  • How will the information that has been gathered in assessments drive your decision-making?
  • Can the assessment or platform scale to your organisation’s future needs? Can it be integrated with your HR systems?
  • How might you evaluate and fine-tune your process in the future?

The positioning of assessments within the selection process is just as important as the assessment you use – this will impact time and cost to hire, and ultimately the choices about which candidate you select (or reject).

There’s rarely a ‘perfect candidate’ – being clear about the most critical competencies for the role can assist you in making a sound judgement later in the process.

Lastly, be prepared to test and learn – design your selection process with a future evaluation of effectiveness in mind. How will you know what works?

Key Takeaways

Psychometric testing is integral to the selection process when hiring for positions that are integral to the business. To summarise:

  1. Always seek advice from a professional who has experience in candidate selection and administering psychometric testing.
  2. Commit to using assessments properly and to let go of techniques that are not reliable or evidence-based.
  3. Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve and what success will look like.

If you would like to speak to a professional in this space, reach out to our team at VerifyNow today. We are certified practitioners of the ACER Psych Testing platform and Lumina Learning. We have hand-picked a number of ACER and Lumina products to help you and your organisation make better decisions in the hiring process. 

Finally, we would like to thank Alex for his time and sharing his insights on the fundamentals of psychometric testing and how crucial they are in the recruitment process. Stay tuned for our next interview with Alex where he will provide more thoughts on psychometric testing in practice. 

Disclaimer: Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or recruiting advice. You should, where necessary, seek a second professional opinion for any legal or recruiting issues raised in your business affairs.

Khai Ngo