How psychometric testing can help in the hiring process

The hiring process is fraught for both hiring managers and candidates. It is easy to make a bad hire, someone whose qualifications fit the role but whose personality doesn’t mesh with workplace culture, or someone who has great promise but lacks the experience to back it up. Productivity falls, as the rest of the team scrambles to cover the work the new hire cannot do competently. Forbes cites the U.S. Department of Labor, which estimates that the cost of a bad hire can be as much as 30 percent of that employee’s first-year earnings – easily five figures!

Additionally, a bad hire can have a ripple effect, as other team members get burned out covering for their inadequate work. Eventually, you could even lose some of your best employees, which is a very high price to pay.

By the time you find out you’ve made a bad hire, it is already too late; the stress mounts, and the expense of going through the hiring process again can be daunting. Not to mention, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Research from staffing firm Robert Half suggests that it takes companies an average of 10weeks to discover that a new recruit isn’t working out, and another six weeks to find a replacement.  Yet about 76%, or3 in 4 senior managers say that they’ve made a bad hire at least once.

How can we mitigate risk in the hiring process?

To secure a role, candidates often pass through a selection process with multiple steps. There is the first review of CV and cover letter, followed by several rounds of interviews, and finally reference checks. For hiring managers, this process usually feels like enough screening and information to make a hiring decision with confidence. However, much like the steps taken to purchase a house, it’s always a good idea to use every tool available.  

In the case of a house purchase, a builders’ report provides the ‘inside knowledge’ that enables a potential buyer to make an informed decision. Like a builders’ report, psychometric testing provides a deeper ‘inside’ view of a candidates’ potential and fit for the role. Psychometric testing can measure such factors as personality, cognitive ability, and aptitude – areas that are not always easily identified or quantified in an interview. When hiring managers are better-informed, they can gain a more well-rounded understanding of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and therefore make a better hiring decision.

Psychometric testing has two other huge advantages when it comes to use in recruitment. Firstly, the assessments are objective, reducing bias and personal perspective in their pursuit of results. Secondly, they are standardised, reliable, and valid, providing equality in testing for all candidates. All individuals receive the same treatment, and this reduces variables in a way that few other hiring tools can do. Hiring managers can use these assessments to predict on-the-job performance.

How does psychometric testing work?

Psychometric testing is a method of objectively measuring the differences between individuals, which is why these assessments are so useful in the hiring process. Candidates often want to know how to prepare for psychometric testing, but as the tests are designed to capture a snapshot of an individual the results are not often influenced by preparation. These tests are widely recognised as scientifically robust, providing objective and reliable insights about a candidate. Hence, they are widely used in both the public and private sectors.

Testing results have valid applications for career choice and development, recruitment, self-knowledge and coaching, and development of individuals and groups. The assessments are usually taken online, in the candidate’s own time. Answers are measured against a norm group selected for the requirements of the role – for example, tests taken in support of senior role applications will have their results measured against a norm group of others in senior roles.

There are several kinds of psychometric testing and assessments, designed to measure cognitive ability, workplace behaviours, personality, and hard skills, such a sales and IT. They are divided into two main categories: ability tests, and personality questionnaires.

Ability tests

Ability tests often measure cognitive abilities, like numerical calculations, reading comprehension and verbal communication, or checking for errors. Inductive reasoning assessments measure styles of thinking from linear (concrete, step-by-step reasoning) to abstract (making connections and picking up new information quickly). Often, these tests are bundled together as part of a general ability test, and a total score is given, as well as scores for individual aptitudes.

Other psychometric tests can measure specific skills, like sales ability, coding languages, and software proficiency.  

Personality questionnaires

Personality might be assumed to be less important than skills or experience when it comes to hiring a great new team member or leader, but understanding a candidate’s personality is absolutely essential to determining wither or not they will be a good fit. For example, if your role requires a lot of collaboration or customer interaction, it’s important to choose a candidate whose personality fits such an extroverted position, rather than someone who works best alone.  

Personality can be seen as a combination of preferences – ways of behaving, thinking, feeling, and operating. Personality questionnaires measure strength of preference to determine dominant features in a candidate’s personality. There are no right or wrong answers, as every candidate has a different combination of preferences. These scales of preference, from strong to weak, can give useful insight into likely behaviours in any given situation, and in the workplace.

It is possible to measure such aspects as sociability, resilience, flexibility, anxiety, creativity, and personal organisation. Other personality questionnaires can measure areas like motivation, values, and career interests.

How do we decide which psychometric assessments to use in the hiring process?

At TalentEdge Consulting, we have years of experience helping hiring managers to determine the best tests for each candidate to complete, based on the role’s requirements.  

When determining which test to use, the job description is the best place. Identifying what skills are vitally important and need to be measured is a good starting point to help choose the appropriate test. Are numerical skills important? What about problem-solving, customer relations, verbal interpretation? Can you afford to spend several months training a person to get them up to speed, or do you need them to get a solid grasp on things within a fortnight? These are the kind of questions that need to be asked before a testis selected.

When it comes to personality tests especially, people often assume that candidates can “cheat the system” by choosing answers that match the requirements of the role, rather than according to their true preferences. For example, someone applying for an editing role might select that they have endless patience for fine detail, even if this is not true.

However, technological advances mean that it is nigh impossible to “fake” a personality questionnaire, and assessment methods are evolving rapidly. The questions are carefully balanced in order to ensure that the interpretation is accurate. Additionally, in a personality questionnaire, there are no right or wrong answers. Someone may be competent at looking over fine detail and be perfectly happy having it be a part of their regular role, without having a strong preference for it.

Psychometric testing is best used as part of a wider process, in both large-scale and individual people decisions. They provide valuable information and feedback, and allow informed decisions to be made about whether or not to hire someone.

The information psychometric testing provides gives an invaluable indication of the potential performance of candidates, not only reducing the risk of making a bad hiring decision, but helping hiring managers to make better informed decisions.  

Contact TalentEdge Consulting today to find out how we can help you make better hires.


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