What Are Psychometric Tests?

by Roger Longden | Aug 23, 2015

time icon 2 mins

Widely misunderstood, psychometric tests can be used to help make better hiring decisions.

For many people, the idea of ‘psychometric testing’ brings up images of those IQ tests and personality quizzes seen on on-line distraction sites — fun, perhaps, but not something they can use at their business. In fact, psychometric testing is one of the best tools you can use when hiring people — provided that you use them with care.

There are numerous stories from my own career that highlight both the pros and the cons of using psychometric tests in hiring.

Proceed With Caution

This is the most important point out of all the points I can bring up here.

Psychometric tests are not perfect, and they can cause you to overvalue certain qualities in some candidates while downplaying other qualities in other candidates.

Hence, I recommend exercising a lot of caution before using a test, especially an aptitude test… Some candidates may perform poorly on such tests due to performance anxiety even if they are highly talented.

Pick The Right Test For The Job

It’s important to know what qualities you are trying to evaluate when you use a psychometric test.

  • If you want to assess their degree of introversion/extroversion, you should use a personality test.
  • If you want to assess what someone is good at, you should use an aptitude test.
  • If you want a complete personality profile, you will have to decide between multiple competing systems like Big 5, Myers-Briggs, and Hogans.

Which test you choose will have a huge effect on the outcome of the hiring process.

Be Aware Of The Drawbacks.

Remember that using personality tests can have negative consequences.

Applicants or employees who were tested and feel the result was not fair may feel that the test was unfair, or that you were being unfair to them by using it.

It’s important to pay attention to this sort of thing in business as it can lead to political issues down the road.

When To Use A Test

Now that we’ve discussed the upsides and downsides of testing, we can finally evaluate when is the RIGHT time to do a psychometric test.

We know, for example, that a psychometric test shouldn’t come before an interview or assessment of the individual’s actual job related skills.

So, when should it come? What’s the right time to use a psychometric test when hiring someone?

Of course, like anything that involves people, the answer depends.

For example, if you feel that you don’t yet have a good feel for the candidate based on what you have already assessed in the interview, then a psychometric test might help.

Or, perhaps you want to compare several candidates objectively – a psychometric test can go some way towards helping with this.

The rule of thumb seems to be this: Use the tests to provide supplementary information on a candidate, not as a definitive assessment of their character.

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