The term 'psychometric testing' refers to a broad range of assessments that can be used to measure specific attributes of any given individual. In recruitment, those attributes are typically cognitive ability and behavioural characteristics, evaluated through aptitude and personality tests.
The rise in popularity of psychometric testing for hiring purposes, particularly among large multinational corporations, indicates a high level of effectiveness. But is this method of selection really all it's asserted to be?
In this article, we'll discuss the pros and cons of psychometric testing in recruitment to help you determine if it's the right fit for your business.
Why do Recruiters use Psychometric Testing?
Psychometric tests are used to both streamline the recruitment process and to help employers make well informed hiring decisions.
Traditional methods of assessment like CV screening and interviews are of course valuable, but they have their limitations. They rely on honesty from the candidate, and recruiters are left to base their decision on gut feel.
By contrast, psychometric tests are led by scientific concepts and data. Aptitude assessments like verbal, numerical and logical reasoning tests offer far greater insight into an applicants actual skills and abilities, whilst personality and situational judgement tests uncover their underlying character traits.
This measurable evidence brings objectivity. It allows recruiters to determine a candidate's suitability based on fact rather than instinct. In addition, research has proven psychometric testing to be a reliable indicator of future work based performance. All of this enables recruiters to avoid potentially flawed, and costly, hiring decisions.
We should point out here that psychometric tests are by no means a standalone tool, but one piece of a multi layered approach. Whilst they can help narrow down your candidate pool significantly, and identify those most suited to your organisation, they are only part of a wider picture.
As such, test results should be assessed alongside experience, knowledge, interview performance and any other methods you choose to incorporate.
Advantages of Psychometric Tests for Hiring
They make for a more effective recruitment process
Recruitment can be time consuming. From initial CV screening through to final interview, there's a lot of work involved, particularly in cases where high volume applications are received.
Determining who to progress, and who to reject, is also a complex process. A candidate that looks good on paper may not have the skills you'd expect, and inviting them to interview could prove fruitless.
With psychometric testing you can measure ability en masse early on, ensuring only those with the desired skill set progress to the next stage and increasing the efficiency of your recruitment efforts.
They help you identify those with the most potential
One of the key benefits of psychometric testing is that it shows inherent ability, rather than learned knowledge. This gives insight into how easily an individual acquires new skills, how well they process information, and ultimately, how they're likely to perform in the role.
When you have multiple candidates of similar backgrounds, this future potential can be used to differentiate between them, and since psychometric testing provides you with measurable data, it's easy to compare like for like.
Also bear in mind that interviews don't always provide a reliable comparison. Some interviewees may be overconfident, others extremely anxious. With data from psychometric testing at your disposal, you can judge a candidate more objectively.
They help ensure the right culture fit
The best employees aren't just right for the job. They're also right for the culture you promote as an organisation. Finding talented candidates that also share your business values is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of recruitment, and the wrong culture fit often the cause of failed hires.
Personality and situational judgement tests give you an additional means of assessing personal motivations, behavioural traits and working preferences, helping you match the right applicants to your company culture.
Disadvantages of Psychometric Tests for Hiring
Results may be skewed
Though psychometric testing is widely considered a reliable method of assessment, results may not always be accurate. For aptitude tests, the timed conditions under which they are taken, along with the added pressure of the job application process, can lead some applicants to underperform on the day.
With personality questionnaires, an applicant may provide the response they believe the employer to be looking for, creating a false image of the ideal candidate.
Though this is a downside to psychometric testing, it can be overcome by ensuring test results are only used as part of a wider strategy.
They can be ineffective if poorly planned
In order for psychometric testing to be successful, it's important to know exactly what you're looking to measure, and to plan your assessments accordingly. There's no point in testing for abilities that are not applicable to the role, and doing so will add unnecessary expense and delay to the process.
You should always seek the advice of a professional test provider to make sure the tests administered deliver effective results. They should be designed around the specifics of the role in question, and offer insightful reports that help you develop clear, objective candidate profiles.
They come with additional costs
For full effectiveness, psychometric testing should be designed, administered and interpreted by professionals in the field, bringing additional costs to your recruitment budget.
This can be off putting for many businesses, particularly smaller organisations. However, it should be taken into account that the cost of a bad hire can run into thousands of pounds, so psychometric testing should be seen more as an investment than an expense.
When Should Psychometric Tests be used in the Hiring Process?
Psychometric tests are commonly used in instances where high volume applications are to be expected, such as for graduate opportunities. Using this method of assessment allows recruiters to narrow down the candidate pool quickly and effectively, and ensure the most talented individuals are put forward for interview.
They're also a much used tool for high profile positions, where the costs of a bad hire would greatly outweigh the investment in a testing solution.
That said, psychometric testing is becoming an increasingly common approach for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It can be especially useful where there is a lack of experienced applicants, giving insight into a candidate's potential regardless of their background.
It's also beneficial if personality and natural ability are more important than current skill, for example, any role where extensive on the job training is to be provided.
Conclusion: Are Psychometric Tests Beneficial for Recruitment?
Psychometric testing for hiring purposes has many benefits. When used effectively, it's cost efficient, reliable and can help you identify the most talented candidates with the right values to join your business or organisation.
However, as mentioned, it is not a standalone solution. If you're using psychometric testing as part of your recruitment process it's key that you give equal attention to a candidate's experience and interview performance, as well as their test results.
The most successful hires are made when a holistic view of an applicant is achieved, making psychometric testing hugely beneficial when used in combination with other recruitment techniques.