Recruitment is a complex and often at times a challenging process. A candidate may look perfect on paper but then, when they reach the interview stage, their personality or application of skills just misses the mark. That combination of personality traits, required knowledge and experience is difficult to evaluate in person, let alone in a neat tick-box exercise.
This is where psychometric testing can introduce benefits to the recruitment process. Psychometric testing has played a vital role in corporate recruitment for many years, and is now transforming recruitment strategies around the globe by adding greater insight and information than CVs or interviews alone. It’s clear that it’s having a major impact on hiring – but is it a method that actually works?
What is Psychometric Testing?
Psychometric testing refers to a specialised field within psychology which is devoted to measurement and assessment. It is concerned with the objective measurement of factors that cannot be directly observed, such as intelligence, introversion, mental disorders, and educational achievement.
Now used on a global scale, psychometric testing in recruitment is a way to take the selection process to the next level. By delving deeper into a candidate’s psychology, recruiters can more thoroughly explore their suitability for the organisation, and make more intelligent hiring decisions.
In fact, recent surveys show that 75% of the UK’s Times Top 100 companies, over 80% of the USA’s Fortune 500 companies, and 70% of UK companies with over 50 employees utilise psychometric testing as part of their recruitment process. Around 81% of companies using these tests in their interview process also say that they expect to make more reliable hiring decisions as a result.
Multinational bank Citigroup relies on numerical, verbal and logical reasoning tests to assess potential employees. Other companies that opt for psychometric testing of potential employees include Ford Motors, consumer goods firm Procter & Gamble, and professional services company Deloitte.
Psychometric tools fall into two broadly different categories. The first category assesses ability, whilst the second explores a candidate’s personality. It’s often beneficial to combine both of these alongside traditional interview techniques, particularly when selecting candidates from a large pool of applicants.
Tests for ability (also known as aptitude testing) are usually time-limited and taken online, with only right or wrong answers. A candidate’s score is used to indicate their level of intelligence, and their ability to perform the role well. Some tests are more appropriate and relevant for certain roles – for example, an aspiring financier would need to score highly in a numerical test, which measures how well and how quickly someone deals with numbers. Other types of ability testing might include:
- Situational judgement tests;
- Error checking;
- Verbal reasoning;
- Spatial awareness;
- Numerical tests.
Meanwhile, personality tests (also known as occupational testing) measure a candidate’s suitability by looking at their behaviour, motivations, values and interests, with the aim of evaluating how they might respond in certain situations.
This type of occupational testing doesn’t tend to enforce time restrictions, and there are no wrong answers. Instead, candidates will usually rate situations or scenarios on a scale of how strongly they agree or disagree, and perhaps provide some comment on what they would do.
The data created by psychometric testing is designed to be completely objective. This is beneficial as it offers an unbiased understanding of how a person reacts and responds to given situations, such as working within a team or meeting a strict deadline. The different tests all aim to achieve the same outcome – to determine role suitability.
What are the Benefits of Psychometric Testing for Recruitment?
There are many benefits of psychometric testing for recruitment, not least that it offers an insightful evaluation of whether an individual is right for the job. It also offers a time-effective, cost-effective, and consistent way to measure candidates during large-scale recruitment drives, such as graduate hiring.
These tests help employers to understand how a candidate might respond in certain situations, as well as testing for certain traits (such as intelligence) that a CV might only suggest. All of this combined together helps employers to compare potential employees, and feel more confident when it comes to making their final decision.
Another important benefit of psychometric testing in recruitment is that it helps employers to identify potential leaders in the early stages of their career. This not only works in that individual candidate’s favour for future professional development, but also provides a benchmark against which other new employees can grow and improve.
When the right people are hired, there is often a ripple effect across the business, as the energy of the new employee drives up productivity within a team. In many cases this results in better cohesion and performance, and ultimately a happier workforce.
Psychometric testing is extremely useful in that it offers a lot of detailed information about a candidate in a relatively short amount of time. As a result, employers can access much more insight than with in-person interviews alone.
This is particularly beneficial where there is an “employers’ market”, meaning that companies with job vacancies have their pick of experienced, talented and effective applicants, all fighting to get their attention. In this case, the employers are able to use more thorough measures and assessments to identify the best candidates for their jobs.
How are Psychometric Tests Scored?
On average, each graduate job offer in the UK attracts 39 applications (with some larger institutions garnering 250 applications per job). It’s little wonder then that employers need a method that can quickly and efficiently determine which candidates are the best fit. Psychometric testing removes human biases and assumptions about degrees, work experience and other qualifications, with all candidates assessed using the same metrics.
When evaluating results, psychometric testing compares an individual’s overall test score against a group average. This may either be representative of the combined candidate group, or of the current role holder.
Each person’s score is given a ranking (or ‘percentile’) which demonstrates how well they have performed in relation to the rest of the group. This method of evaluating gives employers the opportunity to assess how well someone has performed against those with similar abilities – enabling a more seamless, unbiased and consistent shortlisting process.
No test can be 100% accurate, but what psychometric tests do is allow you to compare a candidate against a norm, therefore highlighting those likely to perform above average. This process of defining the desired skills and behaviours needed to perform a role well is crucial for effective measurement.
Psychometric testing offers a much fairer and more reliable hiring method than the traditional recruitment process. Used alongside the traditional interview format, psychometric testing makes for improved candidate selection, decreased staff turnover, and earlier identification of future leaders – all contributing to a healthier and more robust business.