How Psychometric Testing Aids Recruitment

Psychometric Testing In Aid Of Recruitment

A simple case study

Let us assume that you want to hire a general purpose handy-man. You want someone who can use a paint brush, a trowel, a screwdriver and a chisel. As you screen applicants your choice will be influenced by the level of dexterity of the candidate with the tool that is most important to the completion of your job. If painting is your top priority then the guy who is most handy with the paint brush would get the nod – other things being equal.

Similar thinking is applied to any job selection process. The person you choose to serve as a sergeant major for the war in Afghanistan is not likely to fit the role of being the guidance counsellor at a high school for girls.

Why psychometric testing?

Each job requires the use of certain behavioural tools to achieve best results. Like handy-men, while we may use a variety of behavioural tools, we tend to be more comfortable using some than others. Some behaviours take more energy from us. We can perform them but they wear us out more quickly than behaviours with which we are more comfortable.

Hence the role of psychometric testing. It assists us in aligning jobs with individuals who are more comfortable using the behavioural tools that are important to the successful completion of the related tasks. The goal is not to use psychometric testing as the sole criterion for selection. However, it provides some insight into areas in which applicants will need more or less energy to get given tasks done.

One of the great benefits of psychometric assessment is the fact that it provides employers with a guide as to how to get best results from new hires. It can take months by trial and error until a new hire finally settles in and performs at their best. A sophisticated behavioural profile equips employers and new hires with the information to enhance performance from the first day at work.

Grounds for resistance to psychometric testing

However, there is a school of thought that suggests that psychometric testing should not be used in the recruitment process because of a concern that employees are more likely to lie at that time than at any other period of their association with the organization. The concern then is that the psychometric assessments might influence the organization to make decisions on the basis of faked results.

It should be noted that the research does not claim that most applicants will lie during the recruitment process. It only suggests that if one is going to be dishonest, it is most likely to happen during the recruitment process. If a high percentage of your organization’s applicants feel disposed to lie then avoiding the use of psychometric tests is hardly the answer to a much bigger problem.

Also, we should consider the logical extension that applicants who are given to cheating on their psychometric tests are also likely to lie in the interview and maybe even with their documentation. However, organizations still interview and opt to ramp up their interviewing skills.

The great news is that there are assessment instruments that structure their questionnaires in such a way as to make cheating risky and very difficult to pay off. These more sophisticated tools also produce reports that reveal two profiles of the individual. One profile reflects the image the individual thinks s/he ought to portray. The other profile is the individual’s natural (or hidden) profile. This kind of assessment has a high degree of correlation with the behaviours that are exhibited post-employment.

Why psychometric testing still adds value

There is another important consideration.

Best practice in performance coaching advises individuals to adopt certain “roles” that are best suited to achieving desired results in given situations. “Act as if…” becomes the key philosophy. No successful coach advises individuals to “always be yourself” in the work environment. That would be a prescription for chaos.

Role playing is a key to successful performance on the job! Organizations expend much effort in getting team members to play appropriate roles when at work.

What does this mean?

Organizations that use psychometric testing as an aid in the recruitment process will either be selecting individuals who genuinely display the behavioural preferences that are desired or who have been able to fake them.

Since, playing the right role is what is required of all team members, the organization that uses psychometric testing is ahead of the game because new hires will either be naturally inclined to play the desired roles or are clever enough to identify and mimic the in-demand behaviours.

Organizations who fail to use sophisticated psychological assessment tools are left to rely on intuition and periods of feeling out new hires before creating the conditions that maximize performance. Being spooked by a small percentage of potential cheats is not a good enough reason to miss out on the overwhelming benefits of psychometric testing in recruitment.


About the author

TrevorESSmith is a Joint-venture partner with Extended DISC International. He is a founding director of the Success with People Academy and the INFOSERV Group. The Success with People Academy provides performance enhancing solutions for individuals, teams and organizations. It facilitates success with and through people.