Psychometric testing – do’s, don’ts and accreditation

updates + insights » Psychometric testing – do’s, don’ts and accreditation

The integration of psychometric testing in a recruitment context has had mixed reviews in the past, mostly due to the misuse of testing and its context. However, today it is a widely utilised tool used in many recruitment processes, integrated in the process as a supplementary selection tool. There are many advantages to introducing psychometric testing into the recruitment process, including:

  • Increasing the number of successful placements.
  • Improving compatibility within and across teams.
  • Improving development and retention.
  • Reducing unconscious bias.
  • Reducing probation time and staff turnover.

While psychometric tests should not be relied upon solely to make hiring decisions, they add significant value to the recruitment process. For starters, they introduce a completely objective measure of a candidate’s personality or intellectual ability (depending on the assessment method of choice) that a recruiter or hiring manager may not be able to directly measure themselves. They also eliminate any preconceived ideas, assumptions or biases previously established by the recruiter/hiring manager by adding in a function that will either confirm or challenge these ideas.

The results that psychometric tests produce are computer generated, and therefore the interpretation of them should not be taken in isolation, rather, in the context of the role, the organisational environment, and the business needs that the role is trying to fill. Doing this will allow the right selection decisions to be made.

Personality Assessments

Personality tests are beneficial in what they add to a recruitment process for a number of reasons. For starters, they provide insight into how the candidate operates in certain environments, how they react in given situations, how they think and solve problems, their level of sociability, their level of assertion, and how open to change they are. These traits are clearly beneficial to be aware of upon commencement of employment. As well as providing an insight into the candidate’s tendencies in isolation, the results will also provide an idea of how they might slot into a team environment and whether they will complement, or clash, with the pre-existing team in that organisational context.

Cognitive Assessments

Cognitive tests are also beneficial in terms of what they add to the recruitment process. Where personality tests provide insights into a candidate’s natural tendencies in the way they operate, cognitive tests portray a picture of a candidate’s actual ability to operate and their potential capability based on their current ability. Cognitive tests capture a wide range of an individual’s ability including their numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning. Some tests can capture a candidate’s situational judgement, and other tests, their critical reasoning ability – which are particularly beneficial in the recruitment of more senior positions. Depending on the role, the criteria that the candidate must meet can be established at the beginning of the hiring process to be used for the basis of comparison. Alternatively, the candidate’s scores can be compared with the mean norm group taken from a random New Zealand sample, or, any given candidate can be compared to the rest of the pool of applicants. This process can supplement difficult selection decisions where the other recruitment stages are not enough to go by and can be the point of difference between two very similar candidates.

The benefits

It is clear that the gaps that psychometric test results fill allow selection decisions to be made with consideration of a wide range of factors. If both a personality and cognitive test have been administered, in conjunction with the readings taken from phone screens and interview(s), the results will provide insight into a candidate’s natural tendencies as well as their abilities and potential capability in a performance context. Due to the numerical outputs that the tests provide, psychometric tests promote a platform for comparison across candidates using directly measurable criteria, again eliminating the influence of bias and non-measurable opinions. As a result, the combination of these sources of information allow hiring managers to make more accurate selection decisions that can be made on the basis of whether the candidate fits the selection criteria that the role requires (as outlined in the job description and/or person specification).

Subsequently, this will likely improve employee development and retention, as the selection process will have found a candidate that will fit with the team and organisation. Ultimately this will lead the candidate to experience job satisfaction once in the role, and as a result, experience reduced turnover intentions early in the employment, giving them time to fully establish themselves in the role and develop their skills. An accurately fitting selection decision will also reduce the probation time of the newly appointment candidate, as they will likely pick up the role more quickly, due to their aligned skill set identified in the thorough recruitment process.   

When to use

While there are a number of benefits to integrating psychometric testing into a recruitment process, there are also considerations to be made when introducing it into any given process. For example, the decision to include the testing in the process should be made on whether they will get full value from its inclusion. For example, for a role that has a low level of selection criteria that cannot be assessed through a testing platform, a psychometric test will not add much value to an interview and any other recruitment stages conducted. It is also important to consider the seniority of the role and whether, again, the testing will add value to the process, or just confirmation of what we already know. For example, an executive level role that requires highly specific technical competencies assumes that the candidates applying for the role have already got the capability in this area to get into the role that they are currently in and therefore should not need to be assessed on technical capability. However, it may be beneficial to administer a personality test to get a feel for the candidates’ personal competencies in these instances. In some cases, where leadership or strategic capability is a selection criterion, situational judgement or critical reasoning tests may be beneficial to assess a candidate’s aptitude for these sorts of competencies. The type of test you chose must be specific to the role and organisational context.

How to apply findings

While psychometric tests provide thorough insights into the previously discussed attributes, and subsequently add value to the recruitment process, the weighting that is placed on them when making selection decisions must be taken with caution. If a psychometric test result shows an unfavourable result in the eyes of the hiring manager, but the phone screen and interview went extremely well, then it would be unfair to not at least consider that candidate anymore because of the way they tested. Test anxiety is a real thing, and can inhibit and hinder individuals’ test performance. In instances like these, it is often worth following up with a second interview to talk through the test results – even though the candidate will already be fed back their results by the test administrator – it is nice to hear it from the recruiter/hiring manager as well. Conversely, if a candidate phone screens and interviews poorly but tests well, enquiry into why this may be is also worthwhile. 

Decipher’s service offering

With consideration to all of the aforementioned factors, Decipher Group have recently adopted the latest version of the OPRA psychometric testing platform, Podium, and have integrated it into our recruitment framework, to provide the best selection outcomes for our clients.

We now have the capability to provide these added insights into our recruitment framework, and ultimately, our client’s selection decisions. We want our clients to get the most out of the recruitment process and have accessibility to candidate information gathered from a variety of platforms and sources. The information and insights these tests provide may not be able to be captured in phone screens and interviews. As part of the process, we provide test feedback to our clients which allows them to look at candidates from new perspectives and challenge their way of thinking around their process, ultimately leading to a more thorough process.

We ensure that our use of the psychometric testing platform considers all the factors that can impact the interpretation of these tests and what they are truly designed to do. We will only recommend the use of these tests when they will truly add value to your process. We not only have the accreditation, but the understanding of how these tests work, and when they work to their best.

We always keep our finger on the pulse for updates and insights on the development of psychometric testing in both the recruitment and HR space. From here, we are only excited about the future of psychometric testing and what the developments will mean for not only us, but most importantly, our clients.  

The Decipher Team      

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