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Over the last five years, psychometric testing has become a core part of the hiring process at all levels of recruitment. In fact, over three quarters of employers use psychometric testing alongside CVs, application forms and interviews. The technique is used to assess an individual’s specific aptitude and skill in areas such as potential, leadership, behavioural traits and more. They can also give a gauge of personality to ensure that the candidate would be the right “fit” for the organisation they are being recruited for.

Many candidates still distrust the process however, feel that it doesn’t work and that it dehumanises the process of choosing the right person for a role. Are they right and are parts of the recruitment industry too reliant on psychometrics as a process for fitting candidates into jobs?

I have used psychometric testing successfully for many years, so here’s my quick overview of the benefits of this type of testing and how, when used correctly, it can really help to create a harmonious workforce.

• Research shows that interviews, references and application forms are poor at predicting whether people will succeed. Interviews are often influenced by people’s prejudices, likes and dislikes. Testing people’s personality types and ability for future learning and development can help to predict more reliably a candidate’s future long term success in the role.

• People tend make decisions subjectively with managers on the whole recruiting people who are similar to themselves. Psychometric testing adds an objective measure into these decisions, and allows for comparisons to be made between candidates on a level playing field. Evidence has also shown that defining criteria in advance can reduce unconscious bias in decision making and make processes more transparent.

• There are a wide range of different psychometric tools that can tell us different things about a candidate such as personality, behavioural preferences, cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, potential for leadership and learning and so on. Each of these measures tells us something more about the candidate and adds an extra dimension to the picture that managers have when making decisions. Psychometric testing can therefore help them to see whether a candidate will fit comfortably into the team and company culture. The more objective information the manager has to hand, the more successful their decisions will be.

• Psychometric tests are useful, but they should not be used in isolation. If used as part of the recruiting tool box alongside competency assessments, interviews, presentations and questionnaires, they can really add value. The psychometric test results should be reviewed by someone who really understands them and can draw the right conclusions from the results. A full suite of tests will help the recruiter and/or HR Manager draw up objective recommendations and conclusions that will help predict future performance and leadership potential

• Psychometric tests can be an invaluable part of recruitment for senior leadership roles. We recently worked with a top end marine apparel brand, Gill Marine, to help them hire into their senior management team. The post needed someone with a very particular personality type. We tested our final candidates using Thomas International’s High Potential assessment which helped the company to choose the person that most closely fitted the criteria they were looking for.

My firm view is that psychometric tools remain an invaluable tool to assist recruitment decision making, particularly when hiring for senior level roles where mistakes can be very costly. Although these tests can be dismissed as being too broad, if used correctly, the technique can really help to weed out candidates early on in the process that would be a poor fit for the role being advertised. I believe that psychometric testing works best when applied early on in the recruitment process, particularly during sifting applications to help to identify suitable candidates. Further work can then be done alongside other more personal techniques including video interviews, face to face interviews, presentations and written Q&As to find a perfect match for the role on offer.

Andy Gooday, Managing Director, Round Peg Search

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