Psychometric testing is now an integral part of all levels of a company’s recruitment and selection process. While this was previously reserved for the hiring of top-level executives and senior managers, businesses are increasingly shifting towards introducing psychometric testing to help them improve their hiring decisions.
This is a two-part interview series with our resident registered Psychologist, Alex Wilkins. In the first part of the interview, Alex unpacks questions related to why psychometric testing is beneficial and how companies can determine how best to use it in their recruitment framework.
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.
In the second half of this interview, Alex shares with us how the application of psychometric testing should be used and at what stage of the recruitment process it should be used.
Welcome back, Alex.
I’m a hiring manager, and I have the approval to implement psychometric testing in our company’s hiring process. What do I need to do?
AW: The best place to start is to really understand the role(s) that you are hiring for by doing a “job analysis” (a big topic on its own). This will help you choose assessments that measure the competencies or traits that are most important, and guide your decision-making around which candidates to advance through the process. It will be beneficial to engage an expert in Psychometric Assessment to help you get the most out of your investment in testing.
At what point during the hiring process should psychometric testing take place? (e.g. after the first interview)
AW: One of the reasons we use psychometric testing is to mitigate the risk of natural human bias entering into the process. To this end, it is most beneficial to complete testing upfront – and then utilise the insights in a structured interview to probe further. The end-goal here is to be able to rank candidates against the critical job competencies or characteristics you have identified.
The design of the process should also consider the type, level, and number of positions (and applicants) to be considered – which will naturally have different budget and logistical pressures. For example, the process for selecting next year’s graduates will look different to that of a Head of Engineering.
What do the results of psychometric testing used in recruitment typically show? How would an employer best interpret the results?
AW: Depending on the type of assessment, the interpretation would be done by an accredited person (e.g. Psychologist, HR Manager).
The assessment results (for example, verbal or numerical reasoning ability; personality) would be mapped against job-critical competencies. This would highlight which candidates had the greatest potential for performance in the role.
Going further, the direct manager of the successful candidate could also be provided with insights into how best to motivate and develop their new team member.
How should employers handle sensitive information that comes from psychometric testing during the recruitment process?
AW: Very carefully and in accordance with Privacy Laws. It’s highly sensitive and personal information. Collect only what is absolutely necessary to measure against job-critical competencies.
Personal information should be handled on a “need to know” basis, limiting access to the accredited person performing the interpretation. Others involved in the hiring process may only need a summary (some providers offer an alternate short-form for hiring managers).
What should a hiring manager do if they particularly like a candidate through the interview process but the psychometric testing results paint a different picture?
AW: You are recruiting an employee or team member first and foremost, and not a friend!
Hopefully, you will have developed your job competencies for the role ahead of time as a part of the job-analysis process. Engage in some self-reflection (or ideally discuss with a peer) what it is that you like about the candidate, and question whether those attributes are actually important for the role. What trade-offs are you willing to make against the potential for performance?
‘Traditional’ approaches to selection (like unstructured interviews) introduce human biases that divert our attention away from the attributes that actually matter for success in the role. Our first impressions of the candidate, incorrect beliefs about the traits needed to be successful, or just candidates’ similarity to ourselves will impact the information we notice and/or value.
Using psychometric tests within a structured process helps us to avoid these biases altogether. Ultimately – it is about minimising the risks associated with a ‘bad’ hire – turnover, re-hiring, productivity losses – while avoiding missed opportunities to secure top talent.
What advice would you give to an employer who has to communicate with a nervous or sceptical candidate about taking psychometric testing?
AW: Don’t make any assertions about the test being ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ (individual experiences will differ, and this could cause confusion or upset).
Reassure candidates that it’s natural to feel a bit anxious about being assessed, particularly when applying for a new job.
Remind them that the purpose is to find the person with the best fit for the role and the organisation – it’s not a judgement of them as a person.
Be clear regarding the privacy and confidentiality of the assessment results, how they are to be used, and what feedback candidates can expect to receive and when.
Share information sheets and/or ‘practice’ tests developed by the assessment provider (where available) to help familiarise candidates with the process.
Given that every organisation’s needs are different, the importance of having a certified practitioner with experience in applying psychometric testing must be emphasised.
Psychometric testing not only delivers an accurate and objective assessment on the suitability of candidates, but it also allows the recruitment process to remain unbiased to not only minimise the risk of bad hires but also to avoid missed opportunities to hire top talent.
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.
If you’d like to review the first part of the interview, you can read it here.
Again, thank you to Alex for his time and insights on how psychometric testing should be executed in the recruitment process to make better hiring decisions.