Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing in recruitment

The costs of selecting the wrong candidate

Psychometric testing in recruitment especially during the employment screening phase is becoming an industry standard. As the owner or CEO entrusted with running your company at an optimal level, going through the recruitment process and selecting the wrong candidate for the role can be the cause of significant financial, time, reputation and distress. The process of recruitment and sourcing a new candidate itself involves:

  • Money spent on placing advertisements on different platforms
  • Energy into mapping out the scope of the role with current employees
  • The investment of time to interview candidates
  • Other elements are often involved in the recruitment process, such as:
    • Doing reference checks
    • Background and criminal checks

The hiring process doesn’t end once the new candidate has been selected. Integrating the new staff member involves several costs including:

  • Developing and negotiating contracts
  • Agreeing on a salary, wage or equity
  • Ensuring the company has sufficient funding or equity to honour these contract
  • The time and resources spent to train the employee on how internal processes and systems work
  • Additional or remedial training if the employee faces challenges in the role

Even after these resources have been dedicated to the employee, there remains the risk that the particular employee may not meet the company’s expectations. These could be some of the unintended consequences:

  • The new hire affects the morale and motivation of the company’s current employees
  • Time being spent mitigating issues with the new hire rather than focusing on the quality of goods or services delivered
  • The company’s reputation is affected in the marketplace

These problems are evident when you are the owner or CEO of the company. Instead of spending your time effectively managing the company’s business needs and strengthening the workplace culture, a bad hire can detract your time and energy from what you should be focused on. This is the time lost spending a significant amount of time dealing with conflict, clashes of personality and dealing with a negative impact from the bad hire on the business and workplace culture you have worked so hard to build.

The shift from traditional metrics to psychometric testing in recruitment

In the recruitment process within most companies and MNCs, organisations will rely on traditional metrics such as:

  • Academic performance or accomplishments
  • Prior work experience
  • References from past organisations
  • Achievements

These metrics give a small snapshot of the potential, personality and capabilities of the new candidate. These need to be scrutinised carefully alongside psychometric testing and an interview process to obtain a thorough picture of the candidate.

There are often key debates regarding traditional metrics. For example, when considering the candidate’s length of job tenure in a past role in their curriculum vitae, a long employment history could be argued in divergent ways. On one hand, a long employment period could suggest:

  • Loyalty
  • Consistency
  • An ability to develop and retain long-term relationships.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the employee may have been retained past the point of redundancy. It is always important to consider if there was a distinct possibility that while the candidate was an employee, that they may not have been:

  • Performing at their peak performance during their tenure
  • Open to upskilling to roles with greater responsibility during their tenure
  • Required to push the boundaries of performance during their tenure in their previous role

Moving past first impressions into personality testing

How potential employees present themselves during the initial meeting can often skew the impression of the interviewer. This is a result of the traditional weightage given to first impressions, which make a significant impact on both the interviewers and interviewees, which results in poor decision-making regarding the potential hire.

Psychometric testing is a tool in which personality and performance amongst other traits crucial for success in the workplace can be measured objectively. Data guides the decision-making process to make better recruitment decisions. As psychologists, a caveat we often highlight to the clients and companies we work with is that the information provided by psychometric testing cannot be used in isolation. Psychometric data has to be utilised in conjunction with collaborating data, such as several rounds of interviews, psychological evaluation or targeted proficiency tests. This enables the employer to access a larger pool of data about the employee in their decision-making process. Some considerations that can be factored into the recruitment process include:

  • How the employee engages with management and other staff,
  • The employee’s intrinsic working styles
  • Other information that demonstrates the competencies of the employee has to be thoroughly reviewed.

For more specific roles where particular tasks need to be completed, additional testing can be integrated into the interview process, which can be supplemented with one of the many relevant batteries of psychometric tests or proficiency tests. The move towards psychometric testing, psychological evaluation and proficiency tests in the hiring process improves the employer’s predictive ability of a potential employee’s ability to succeed in the rule. Demands for the greater predictive ability of the employee’s potential suitability is set to increase amongst all companies and industries as the marketplace continues to become more competitive. This will only result in further integration of psychometric tools and psychological evaluation into the standard interview process and, is set to become the norm rather than the exception.

What does psychometric testing entail?

Psychometric testing is a method, which is scientific, standardised and evidence-based. It allows the tester or in this case, the employer, to measure cognition, traits, qualities and factors that would provide a clear quantitative measure of potential employees ability and suitability for a particular role. This information is difficult to ascertain during the interview process or while reviewing a candidates curriculum vitae. The interviewer is often subject to confirmation bias, hence it is important to obtain and understand data from testing to enrich the evaluation process in tandem with the interview process.

The ranges of psychometric batteries of tests are vast. A few examples include:

  • Intellectual tests
  • Personality tests
  • Cognitive tests

For specific roles, there are also the ability and scenario-based assessments, which can include:

  • The ability of the candidate to process information
  • Numeracy skills
  • Understanding written information
  • Abstract concepts
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The candidates capacity to collaborate and work with others
  • The candidate’s ability to cope with challenging scenarios that may occur during the role

Being able to assess, evaluate and make decisions based on this testing data allows the individual employer to have a clear perspective of the candidate. With a candidate’s complete profile of skills, abilities, personality profile, intellectual and cognitive ability, this will assist in directing you to the right candidate for the right role. This also ensures that the candidate can perform the task that they were assigned to or recruited for in the first place.

How does psychometric testing in recruitment occur?

Psychometric testing is usually conducted within a closed location under the supervision of a psychologist. Depending on the type of test is it possible that the test is delivered in a computer-based format. Internet-based assessments have created an environment where fast and efficient processing of the data can occur.

Mistakes in data processing and interpretation in the recruitment process

The key component that is often overlooked by companies is that the psychometric data needs to be interpreted by a qualified psychologist. Skipping this step can cost a company time and money if the data is not processed professionally or interpreted correctly.

A qualified psychologist can interpret the results of the assessment testing, which may include a thorough analysis of the traits or qualities of the candidate. This is derived from the psychologist’s understanding, working and clinical knowledge of intelligence, cognition, personality traits, performance, motivation and other qualities relevant to the role. This removes the risks of an untrained individual interpreting the tests and the risk of incorrectly applying or mistakenly generalising test results. Common mistakes observed are utilising that tests designed for specific traits, qualities, abilities, tasks or even industries and applying or generalising the results from these tests to draw conclusions about the candidate within areas other than what the test was originally intended for. Another common mistake is simply utilising outdated tests, lack reliability and validity or that has been demonstrated not to have any effectiveness in measuring the trait or quality in the candidate. This could result in the required skills and traits not being tested for or screened effectively and costing your company significantly.

Screening for different levels of candidates

There is also a significant difference in the assessment process for candidates in different levels of roles. This can range from basic initial screenings for entry-level employment to the higher-level type of assessments that are required for more demanding roles or roles that are considered high risk. In the latter scenario, often-potential candidates are subjected to more than one screening or psychometric test and participate in a structured or semi-structured interview process with an experienced psychologist.

Important candidate characteristics that any company should consider screening for in a candidate:

  • Personality traits and particular personality types best suited for particular roles within the organisation
  • Being able to identify candidates whose leadership skills can be grown and nurtured
  • Candidates who can work on their communication skills, contribute to improved interpersonal skill standards in communication between staff and who represent role models in communication skills
  • Candidates who harness the power of teamwork within your staff environment to ensure efficiency and productivity remain optimal
  • Candidates who can follow instructions and protocol diligently while being able to work independently within the company-specific frameworks
  • The candidate’s resilience, including the ability to handle stressful situations, high-pressure environments and significant work demands
  • The candidate’s ability to identify and raise safety-related issues when unsafe behaviours or situations are present which compromise the workplace environment
  • The candidate’s understanding of the importance of integrity and ethics and being able to identify and recognise how integrity and ethics affect and integrate into the workplace environment

Falling back into risky and outdated modes of recruiting new staff

Psychometric testing and screening allow the employer to develop a complete picture as to whether the potential hire will simply survive or thrive within the organisation. Unless your company has dedicated staff that are qualified and competent in psychometric testing or screening, these tasks eventually become challenging which will lead the company to fall back on recruitment processes that are simply based on outdated recruitment practices. This can include:

  • Being solely reliant on how a potential candidate presents themselves in an interview
  • Their ability to present themselves on a curriculum vitae or resume from past education and prior work experience.

Do-it-yourself

Be very careful of simply purchasing psychometric assessments from unofficial sources and undertaking the psychometric and screening process without the assistance of qualified professionals. This could cost your organisation in the long run. Interpreting results without the necessary training can be disastrous and the data will often be interpreted quite differently based on the psychologist’s clinical knowledge and experience.

Key factors to consider when using psychometric testing in recruitment

Understanding your legal obligations in the context of consent, privacy and confidentiality when collecting psychometric or screening data in the recruitment process

Always ensure that your company has obtained written and informed consent before psychometric testing and collecting data from the candidate. This includes having consent forms that explain the limits of confidentiality, how the candidate’s data is utilised and whether the candidate can access or amend data that has been collected about them on file. The psychometric and screening testing data obtained in your recruitment process must comply with the privacy laws and data protection laws within your relevant jurisdiction.

For example, if your company conducts psychometric testing and the usage of the psychometric testing results in the exclusion or discrimination against certain groups of individuals based on nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability, amongst other identifiable demographic characteristics, this may result in a recruitment process and strategy that may result in a serious public backlash and potential legal implications.

There are also educational and competency requirements that need to be fulfilled to purchase and administer specific batteries of tests from the test manufacturer. In addition, your company may be required to ensure that the professional administering the psychometric or screening test meets the criteria of being qualified and competent to administer such psychometric and screening tests. When in doubt, contact the official test manufacturer and national regulatory bodies such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Psychological Board of Australia for concise guidance on the requirements required to administer these psychometric and screening tests.

Understanding what metrics your business needs to track

Identifying business metrics and processes that need to be tracked along with our team of consultants and psychologists ensures that your company is on the right path to its business goals. In the context of recruitment goals, having an open discussion with our team to ensure that a:

  • Comprehensive understanding of the current job role and performance requirements that your company seeks to hire for are accurately defined
  • A clear map of how the role is expected to grow and if there is an intended trajectory of the role into areas of higher responsibility

By working with a team experienced in psychometric testing and adhering to the guidelines on the psychometric testing and screening process, you can be assured that any interpretations and conclusions derived from the evaluation and testing of candidates are reliable, valid and effective. Keep track of the business metrics that your company has set out to achieve.

Have a clear vision of:

  • The results your company would like to achieve
  • The metrics that the potential candidate would have to accomplish
  • The type of values and ambitions candidate
  • Whether there is a match with the company’s vision, goals, culture and working environment
  • A description of the role’s demands and a trajectory of the role’s future responsibilities

These will provide you with a solid understanding of the skills, experience and level of performance that is expected from the candidate. This will give you the confidence that the candidate that you have set out to hire will understand what your company’s hopes and desires, including being prepared for the demands of the role, the type of company ecosystem that the candidate would be immersing themselves in and whether there is a high probability that the candidate can align and integrating themselves within the company’s vision, values and goals.

Reliability and validity in psychometric testing and the often-overlooked value of previously unavailable data in feedback process in recruitment

When selecting psychometric assessments it is important to ensure that the tests and testing process utilised to assess candidates is evidence-based. This will provide your company with the confidence that the conclusions you make from the psychometric testing and screening process will be sound. This allows your company to make decisions and accurately determine whether the potential candidate has the aptitude, experience, qualities and traits to get your company on track to achieving its goals and to ensure that the process is replicable in future.

When selecting your psychometric tests, have a clear understanding of test reliability over time, which includes ensuring if the test was provided to the same individual would elicit similar test results over time and, that the test has validity, which refers to the test’s ability to accurately measure what it is supposed to measure. Often the psychometric tests that your company utilises will have been validated by a large sample of data from previous candidate cohorts to ensure that any conclusions that the test data is reliable or valid are backed by rigorous scientific evidence. The ability of the test to accurately measure the characteristics, qualities or traits you wish to measure should consistently produce similar results upon repeated administrations of the test.

We have iterated on this point previously, however, we cannot stress this enough; it is vital to obtain the full consent of your potential candidate before proceeding with any psychometric or screening tests. Best practices involve providing the candidate with guidelines as to how their data will be utilised and whether the candidate can access, amend or discuss any of the results. This is an often overlooked yet important opportunity within the testing process from a commercial standpoint that permits the psychologists and the company to receive feedback and examine any issues within the testing environment. This allows the company to improve, streamline and reduce costs in the recruitment and selection processes, for the company to test the effectiveness of their current recruitment process and to capitalise on previously unavailable data points which increases their return on investment of the hiring campaign. Often companies attempt to minimise the interactions between themselves and the candidate or is dismissive of the valuable data points and feedback from the candidate for fear that they are divulging too much information to the candidate. This is where a significant amount of data points and feedback is lost which is of immense value to the recruitment and selection process and to the company itself.

Making use of psychometric testing in recruitment effectively

When a psychometric test is administered in proper conditions and by a qualified psychologist this can provide reliable and valid results which can greatly assist in the decision-making process as to whether a potential candidate will:

  • Successfully and effectively engage in the intended job role
  • Have the resilience and ability to handle stressful situations, high-pressure environments and significant work demands
  • Be able to see how they fit within the company’s vision, goals and working environment
  • Settle well within the company ecosystem and culture

Utilising psychometric testing, screening and psychological evaluation effectively will help your company increases the probability that the new employee will succeed.

At Chat Clinic, our team of psychologists provide psychometric testing and screening based on your company’s needs. Our team of qualified psychologists have extensive training in psychometric testing and have the ability to ensure that the job roles that you seek to fill find the most appropriate and qualified candidates. We provide the necessary feedback prior, during and post-psychometric test periods to ensure that the candidates that you hire are a good fit within the company ecosystem and remain effective employees.

A majority of the psychometric tools are we utilise are available online. This is advanced significantly due to the COVID-19 situation where tests that were traditionally pen-and-paper are now computer-based and often can be completed over the Internet.

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