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Talent Assessment | 3 Min Read

The Pros And Cons Of Psychometric Assessment

Introduction

A psychometric assessment has been a topic of debate in the recruitment industry for long. One section of recruiters finds it extremely valuable as an assessment method while the other half sees no real value in it.

When psychometric assessments were developed in the early part of the 20th century, they were conducted for educational psychology. Even though there are doubts associated with psychometric assessment, statistics suggest a positive trend in the use of psychometric assessment.

Psychometric assessments have been deployed by about 80% Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by around 75% of the Times Top 100 enterprises in the UK. It has been adopted by a wide range of industries that include financial institutions, IT, management consultancies, civil services, fire and police services, and armed forces.

Many companies are choosing psychometric tests to select employees who are going to fit a particular job role and also intend to stay in the company for a more extended period. It is one of the most reverberating questions for recruiters to assess the candidates for their skills as well as behavioral traits. The benefits of psychometric tests are undoubtedly crucial in recruitment, but they also help in talent acquisition, succession planning, and other dimensions of talent assessments. 

The traditional interview processes don’t reveal the inherent traits of the candidate. And when it comes to finding the candidate who fits well in the competency framework as defined by the company, then it becomes essential to measure and quantify various personality metrics. And it becomes illogical to go by intuition or gut feeling during recruitment. The recruiter should have some reliable insights to select a candidate finally.  

It is one big reason that psychometric tests have gained more and more importance with time in the recruitment process. A recruitment process conducted by any company is a way to identify with future employees. It is also indispensable to understand their strengths and weaknesses so that the company could deploy them in the most suitable roles. It is said that an employee is going to last longer with a company if their personal values are aligned with the organizational values. It is also one of the advantages of the psychometric tests to check up on this alignment of values. Let’s understand the different advantages and disadvantages of psychometric tests.

What is a Psychometric Test?

Psychometric tests are designed to allow recruiters to check a potential employee’s mental abilities, skill, intelligence, personality traits, motivations, and interests. By applying psychometric assessments on candidates, recruiters can ensure that only the right people are brought into the company. Psychometric tests prove to be useful tools in assessing a candidate and further judge their growth and development once they are a part of the organization.

A reliable psychometric assessment can evaluate a candidate and provide an objective measure of human characteristics. These tests have been proven to be an adequate estimate of candidate performance on the job at the time of recruitment and selection.

Psychometric tests are designed to measure various personality-based metrics. But they precisely focus on the two aspects of the human personality: cognitive skills and behavioral traits.

Cognitive Skills- It tells about how an individual handles the data and processes it for useful information.

Personality and Behavioral Traits- It tells about the inclination and interests of the candidate, and it also suggests how an individual would react in a particular situation.

Based on these two fundamental aspects of candidates, the HR department tries to make judgments about the candidates in the early stage of the recruitment process. The main idea is to make objective decisions about the candidates based on some reliable statistics. 

Psychometric tests can predict the candidates, and these predictive insights help the recruiters to deploy the finally selected candidate into the job roles that are suitable to them.

Companies use psychometric tests in the initial stages of the selection process.  A recruiter can get a holistic view of the candidate’s likelihood of success at the job. There are three types of psychometric tests – 

  • Aptitude Tests
  • Skills Tests
  • Personality Tests 

Even though psychometric assessments have been widely used as a useful tool for hiring and managing talent, its effectiveness has been questioned several times. HR professionals work under the constant pressure of meeting deadlines regarding fulfilling the talent requirements of their respective organizations.

In a country like India, where demand for job openings far exceeds the supply. In this scenario, organizations prefer to use psychometric assessments to screen candidates that help them gain access to fast and accurate results.

Psychometric assessments are a great way to save time and reduce cost per hire. It also shows a considerable improvement in the quality of hire. Psychometric tests are achieving a stable place in the companies during the hiring process. And this is the real measure of its widely accepted stature. Let’s see why psychometric tests are considered to be useful. 

You may also want to read: Chapter 1: What is a Psychometric Assessment Test?

How Useful are Psychometric Tests?

The psychometric tests help in understanding the suitability of the candidates for a particular role. But the question is what all reasons make these tests useful and how recruiters can take help from these tests. 

Although psychometric tests are based on the data with reliable insights, their importance enhances when used with other stages of selection such as interviews. A psychometric test result solely can not provide reliable insights to help recruiters in the final decision-making. Because interpretation of the results coming from the psychometric tests makes all the difference. These insights coming from the results can be misleading at times. Because some candidates may know the best answer to pick without even knowing the context of it. This kind of practice may not reveal the real personality of the candidates. Some candidates may provide misleading answers because of the anxiety or an incongruent test environment. These anxious responses may overshadow the suitability of such candidates. So, the results should only be given to those people who are experts and interpret the result with accuracy.

However, the advancements in machine learning and other technologies have only tried to make these psychometric tests result-oriented. Psychometric tests depend on two main factors that make them more useful in the recruitment process. These are validity and reliability.

Validity- It depends on the various types of collected data and insights coming from them. It tells about the degree of measurement that psychometric tools claim to measure and what they can actually do.

Reliability-  A psychometric test can only be reliable if it produces similar results under invariable conditions. A reliable test score is precise and consistent during all the tests. It can also be recreated on multiple occasions.

Testing Standards

In 2014, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), and National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) have provided various standards for psychological testing, which describes the right criteria for the development of tests, evaluation, and usage. It suggests various standards related to designing of the tests and development. It also talks about the scores, scales, score linking, reporting, administration of tests, and also the rights and responsibilities for the test users.

Evaluation Standards

The Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation has provided various standards for evaluation. It provides various guidelines for implementation, assessment, and other insights for perfect evaluation. These standards try to make the results feasible, useful, accurate and also ensure that the results coming from the tests are reliable and avoid any misleading information.

You may also like: Norming, Reliability and Validity of Psychometric Tests

Advantages and Disadvantages of Psychometric Tests

Advantages of Psychometric Assessment

Because of the standardization and objectivity that accompanies psychometric assessment, they provide nearly accurate results when it comes to judging if a candidate is appropriate for the role in question. Different positions require a different combination of skills and personality traits.

For example, if a company wants to fill up a sales or a business development position, some of the desired qualities will be social astuteness, self-motivation, and strategic thinking. On the other hand, someone who scores high on the sociability factor will not be a good fit for a job that requires one to audit sensitive accounts.

Look Beyond the Resume

The psychometric tests help in looking beyond the resume of the candidates. So, we see that validated and proven psychometric tests supply reliable results. This helps HR professionals to know for sure if a candidate will be a good performer at the job, something that face-to-face interviews cannot guarantee.

Cost-Efficient

The next advantage of psychometric tests is that they are cost-effective and easy to deploy as compared to other means of recruitment. This might seem contradictory at first considering the costs involved in not only incorporating the test into the recruitment process but also to equip staff to be able to handle psychometric assessments. However, it takes several months to gather information about a person that a reliable psychometric assessment can supply within a matter of hours. Taking that into consideration, psychometric assessment can help avoid costly recruitment mistakes in the long run.

Learning and Development

Be it hiring new employees or the growth & development of existing staff; psychometric assessments can contribute to avoiding high costs that arise due to high turnover and poor performance of employees. Psychometric tests provide many reliable insights to make the learning and development process driven as per the company’s goal.

Objective Measurement of Personality Traits

Further, psychometric testing helps an organization to maintain standards when it comes to objectively measured personality traits and aptitude. Once the recruiter has the test results, he/she can explore other points of concern by conducting further interviews. This proves useful if one wants to evaluate the candidate further in specific areas, based on the test results.

Predictive Insights about the Candidates

Psychometric test is an efficient means to know a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses before taking him/her on board; psychometric assessment lets recruiters know how to manage candidates. It makes way for a candidate’s career progression within the company. Because companies can decide on the right deployment of the employees based on their strengths and weaknesses.

If a candidate is shy or introverted but possesses the qualities required for a job opening, these tests can give a platform for them to be recognized. On the other hand, recruiters will not be tricked by overconfident candidates who come up only with answers that their interviewer wants to hear.

Unbiased Recruitment

Psychometric tests make the recruitment process fair and unbiased. They come with insights about the candidates irrespective of their educational background or work experience. The test score checks up on various parameters of the candidates and provides transparent results for the recruitment.

Effective Screening Tool

Psychometric tools help in screening the candidates out of the bulk of applications. It gets very much necessary in the recruitment process to put time and effort in the right direction. With the help of proper screening, the recruiters can only focus on the candidates who are more likely to perform well in the prescribed job role.

Disadvantages of Psychometric Assessment

The world of psychometric assessments is crowded with tests and questionnaires most of which are not valid. An organization must ensure that it has trained professionals who can distinguish authentic tests from the incompetent ones.

Lack of Experts

The absence of the right training can be another hindrance. It often happens that these tests are being deployed by people who are not trained well to use them. Personality tests and instruments require adequate experience to be able to put them to advantage.

The prospect of misjudgment of the test results is quite high. So, companies have to incur additional costs to train people or hire third-party professionals.

Misleading Responses

Standard psychometric assessment is readily available, and there’s a great chance that a candidate who wants the job will do his/her homework before appearing for the test. They can alter their responses to bring out the results desired for the kind of person the company is looking to hire for that particular role.

Nervous Candidates

Many job seekers fail to give their best during the test because of nervousness or undue pressure due to time limitations. Psychometric assessment often does not take into account certain factors like cultural background or language barriers, which may lead to valuable talent to be overlooked.

Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Psychometric Tests

The best way to utilize psychometric assessment would be to combine it with other recruitment methods. But psychometric tests can not be considered as only deciding factor for the selection. 

Even though psychometric assessments will give you valuable data and insight, it only helps in getting a clear picture of the candidates during the hiring process. Purposefully engaging with the candidates gives companies a solid foundation to know them better.

Once other methods such as interviews, group discussions, and case studies are combined with the results of a psychometric assessment, the ideas become much clearer for the candidate’s ability to take up the job. 

For employers, psychometric testing also helps after the final selections. For example, companies can implement personal development programs according to different job levels of the employees. These learning and development programs can be designed as per the interest and motivations of the individual employees. So, in a way, psychometric tests help in optimizing strategies for making a sound talent base.  

Many companies have improved their recruitment decisions by incorporating the psychometric and competency-based tests.

You may also like: Chapter 5: Understanding the Science behind Psychometric Tests

How Can Mercer | Mettl Help?

The psychometric tests from Mercer | Mettl have been designed to make the evaluation of behavioral and cognitive skills accurate and result-oriented. We can also provide companies with customizable solutions to address their specific needs of the recruitment process. We make our assessment process scientific and reliable. 

Psychometric Tests

Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric tests can provide statistics- based predictive insights to make the for assessing various traits of the individuals. These traits include-

  • Positive Personality Traits- These traits help in understanding the candidate’s trainability and flexibility to learn new things and apply.

  • Dark Personality Traits- These are mainly negative traits that an organization should avoid to keep the workplace healthy.
  • Motivation, Value, Preference- It tells about how motivated are employees towards their work and helps in achieving a company’s vision.

  • Cognitive Ability- It evaluates the attention span of the candidate and how well they process the data to make informed decisions.

Mettl Personality Profiler (MPP)

The Mettl Personality Profiler (MPP) is a perfect tool to help create a competency framework related to a particular job role. It is a good tool to decide on particular traits needed to complete a particular task. MPP is equally effective in making a customizable solution to cater to the specific needs of the clients and make the recruitment process totally frictionless. It also helps in the learning and development process for training the employees. It also provides meaningful insights for succession planning and high potential identification. 

Mettl Sales Profiler (MSP)

Mettl sales profiler is a well-designed tool to consolidate a competency framework for the sales profile. It helps in identifying people with the knack for sales. Matching the behavioral and cognitive competencies for the sales profile is one of the important features of the Mettl sales profiler. The evaluation bases on psychometrics tests provide reliable insights to choose people who would make a successful winning team.  

Every organization tries to find candidates who would turn out be the key performers in their respective job roles. These candidates should also be able to align themselves with the company’s values. The psychometric tests for hiring from Mercer | Mettl covers every essential idea to make a recruiter’s life easier by providing reliable information and insights about the candidates.  

Mettl Dark Personality Inventory

The dark traits tell about an individual ‘s negative qualities that make an unhealthy environment at the workplace. Mettl Dark Personality Inventory is able to give information about a person’s six dark traits such as self-obsession, opportunism, insensitivity, temperamental, impulsiveness, and thrill-seeking behavior. These traits are considered to be undesirable and it is equally important for an employer to be aware of the existence of such negative qualities in the existing as well as the future employees.

Originally published March 30 2018, Updated August 4 2020

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Written by

Vipul Srivastav is a seasoned marketing professional with expertise in branding and communication. He writes on numerous web platforms to share his views and experiences on various topics. In his free time, he does photography, reads fiction, listens to U2, and stays curious about the outer space.

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