Before We Decide, Let's Do Psychometric Assessments

‘Psychometric’ is a term coined from the Greek words for mental and measurement. And, by the way, even though there are so many different brands of assessments with wonderfully varied terminology and eye-catching reporting formats available out there, there are three main areas that tests explore: your capabilities, your aptitude for the job, and the extent of your personality match to the job and/or the team/organisation you are hoping to join.

Some tests only measure one area, some measure all areas.

In some cases tests are presented in some kind of question and answer format whether online or actual pen and paper, while some tests actually require you to physically demonstrate those abilities and personality traits. I’m trying to say all this without getting too technical and actually naming specific tests (because I don’t want to appear to be promoting one brand or developer over another) so, let’s agree that this summary gives you a basic idea or outline of psychometric tests/assessments.

Ok, just as a last point, maybe you have come across the term assessment centre. This is not necessarily a physical place that you visit, but rather a set or, in technical terms, a battery, of psychometric tests used together to measure whatever aspect of your candidacy they are designed to measure.

A psychometric test (or assessment) is designed to help employers/recruiters assess a candidate’s abilities, skill, intelligence, personality traits, motivations, and interests as already stated. Thus, by applying the “right” psychometric assessments on candidates, employers/recruiters can theoretically ensure that only the right people are brought into the company. If used on existing employees, the assessments can help identify development needs that need to be addressed in order to close performance gaps, cultivate team cohesion and generally exploit the (potential) talent pool.

Why do I say the “right” psychometric assessments? Well, would a personality test tell you much about my aptitude and ability, or would it only tell you how I am likely to behave in various contexts? Ultimately, what do you want to know? Is my (potential) behaviour an important indicator of success on the job, or would my aptitude be more relevant? Or maybe we need both measures? Before calling in for a psychometric assessment, it is critical that you know what you want to achieve. Admittedly, opinion is divided on whether or not these assessments are useful. Well, talking as an accredited and practicing Psychometrist, the assessments are very insightful and can really (I don’t want to say expose) but yes they do show both the employer/recruiter and the candidate what the candidate profile is in terms of strengths/weaknesses, and the extent of fitness for the position. The test outcome can really help to identify the candidate who best fits the role. If the role was profiled.

There are still instances where an employer calls for assessments as the only screening tool to help decide who is “the best candidate”, but this reduces an otherwise scientific tool to the subjective level of just reading through profiles and saying, ‘this one sounds about right and gives me a good vibe so I will employ or promote him/her’.

The psychometric assessment is not “the oracle” that will speak into the depths of your soul and tell you who to select for an opportunity. You as the decision maker will still need to do your homework, as far as ensuring you have a current job profile from which you drew the various competencies your ideal candidate is expected to possess and display, so that, through a combination of CV screening, interview performance and finally, psychometric assessment outcomes, you can get a holistic view of the candidate’s likelihood of success at the job. And, for that matter, once you have identified the candidate, it is equally important to ensure that the environmental support mechanisms are in place to cultivate and maintain a performance – how many times have we seen a suitable candidate falter and fail because of (lacking) organizational structures!

In closing colleagues, psychometric assessments are increasingly used to identify, employ and manage talent, and they are very useful to both employer and employee if used properly – in fact, if used professionally. You can’t use these assessments in isolation. They must be part of a whole battery if you will, of selection tools including the candidate’s experience, performance at the interview and, if you believe in them, reference checks. Used properly, psychometric assessments will yield powerful insights but misused, listening to the feedback and looking through the report will be just as useful as looking at zodiac symbols and reading horoscopes. Have a productive week ahead.

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