Whether you are an employer looking to identify the best candidates for a vacancy or a job seeker trying to figure out how to impress as a potential hire, chances are you have heard of psychometric testing. There are all kinds of jargon that you will come across during the recruitment process and this one can have a serious impact on showcasing skills and ability. So, what is a psychometric test in recruitment?
For the longest time, employers have relied on resumes that indicate a job candidate’s educational background, knowledge, skills, and work experience to determine if they are a right fit for a vacancy. However, what appears on a resume does not always ensure that the person will fit into the job well as workplace realities have come to demonstrate.
Psychometric testing (also known as a behavioural assessment test) is used to gauge a candidate’s intelligence, aptitude, personality traits, and how they apply them to workplace situations. They go far beyond traditional testing to give a comprehensive assessment of the candidate to determine their problem-solving ability, reasoning capability, ability to interpret and analyse data, respond and make decisions. The focus is brought to the candidate's cognitive abilities and personality to see if they will be able to perform well in their role and fit into the team.
This type of test was first developed in the 1880s at the University of Cambridge. Over the years, they have been expanded to include both cognitive and personality trait assessments. Other popular tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test were found to be too limited to the personality of the job candidate, hence the preference for psychometric tests that were found to be more comprehensive.
Psychometric tests are typically divided into two sections. These are ability and personality tests. Ability tests focus on cognitive abilities in such areas as numerical, logical, critical thinking and verbal skills. Personality tests focus on trying to establish the candidate's personality traits, behaviours, motivations, and values.
They serve to complement other recruitment methods, especially before the interview stage. Interviews require taking the interviewers away from their other responsibilities or having to hire a professional recruiter. If making this sacrifice, it helps to ensure those being interviewed represent the best possible candidates for the job. Psychometric tests help in making this assessment by picking out candidates with the best potential.
Recruitment can be an expensive and time-consuming affair for organisations. Making a mistake during this process and hiring a candidate who is unable to perform as expected will likely result in a repeat of the same. In some cases, making the wrong choice may mean disrupting the rest of the team to such an extent that they become demoralised, which results in a further decline in their performance.
This calls for a recruitment process that goes well beyond considering just what is on the resume. Psychometric tests enable recruiters to better assess job candidates to determine how well they will be able to fulfil their roles and can be expected to behave in the workplace.
Besides wanting to avoid the extra expense of having to repeat the recruitment process, psychometric tests do a better job of ensuring the best candidates for the job are selected. It is not uncommon for recruiters to have unconscious bias that would allow good candidates to be eliminated from the process early on. Psychometric testing is unbiased and provides a fairer level playing field for candidates.
These tests are not one-size-fits-all. They can be customised to suit the particular organisation and the role to be filled. They can be tailored to assess particular skills or traits, ensuring that they bring out the candidate that is truly best suited for the job.
While education, skills and work experience will to some extent matter when choosing a job candidate to fill a role, the person’s personality traits and cognitive abilities will also have an impact as to how well they fulfil their roles. Hence a need to also gauge these other attributes. Depending on the role, the weight of different attributes will vary. For instance, those working as nurses in the healthcare sector will likely be required to show more compassion and patience in their roles compared to those working in investment banking.
They can be used in testing candidates for jobs at all levels of the organisation and in all fields. Recruitment firms can help organisations to customise these tests to better suit the particular type of organisation and the role to be filled.
When organisations use a psychometric test in recruitment, it bypasses what can often be faulty human judgement in assessing the suitability of a candidate for a job role. When you find the right fit for a candidate for the job, they are more likely to thrive in this position and make positive contributions to their team. This is more likely to lead to job satisfaction and higher productivity for all and improve employee retention. When your team can work cohesively it ensures a happier workforce.
Most psychometric tests are carried out online. They may be carried out at different stages of the recruitment process to achieve certain goals.
When carried out in the early stages of the recruitment process, these tests are meant to help whittle down the number of job candidates. They offer a preliminary means of screening-out candidates and identifying the best of the bunch.
They may also be carried out prior to interviews to help in learning more about the candidate and using the information collected to formulate questions and guide discussion as to the suitability of their candidacy. When this testing is done in the late stages of the recruitment process, it is often due to a desire to confirm the findings of earlier testing and narrow down the best choice from a selection of good candidates.
Psychometric tests reduce the risk of a bad hire and, thus the need to repeat the recruitment exercise. With better candidate selection, the team absorbing the new hire is more likely to keep performing well without needing to make up for the deficiencies of a recruit.
Psychometric tests are powerful indicators of job performance as compared to other evaluations including interviews. They are an effective means of determining how well a candidate will be able to perform at their new job.
There is improved organisational performance achieved when the recruitment process can ensure high-quality hires are made. It leads to lesser recruiting costs, better employee retention, lower employee turnover, and higher employee morale and engagement.
When a good hire is made, there is less likely to be a loss of morale or a decline in performance that would necessitate seeking a replacement. Job satisfaction will be better for everyone and increase the likelihood that more of your staff will prefer to stay on.
Since psychometric tests can be set up online, you can just as easily have one candidate as you would a thousand go through it at a click of a button. They can be done from home and since they are standardised, make for a less time-intensive assessment. The results can be generated within seconds of completion and without further input from HR staff.
These standardised tests offer a better way of gauging the suitability of a candidate without interviewer bias or subjective influence. It results in a fairer and more reliable assessment of potential hires.
Better hiring decisions are made when you can reduce bias and provide a fairer means of evaluating a candidate’s strengths weaknesses, and behaviour.
Organisations that use psychometric testing have a better reputation with recruiters and among professionals in their fields. They impart a professional image whereby organisations appear to be fair in their assessment and choice of job candidates.
Candidates have a more positive experience when they know the recruitment process is being conducted validly and objectively. They can even learn from the experience when feedback is offered.
Some people might be reluctant to adopt psychometric testing, for reasons such as additional workload and potential difficulties in changing the system. However, the benefits of using psychometric testing in recruitment will far outweigh any financial costs and disruption caused.
When adopting psychometric testing for recruiting, it is a good idea to ensure everybody using the system is fully trained and educated to help ensure the transition goes well. Another option is to consider outsourcing the testing, helping you focus on other essential aspects of running your business. Regardless of which option you choose, psychometric testing can help ensure a happy and productive workforce while also potentially saving costs.