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Talent Assessment | 4 Min Read

Psychometric Testing Tools for Assessment of Competencies

Psychometric Tools: Introduction

Psychometric tools find their use in psychological assessments. Research and practice are the two core areas that have been leveraged via psychometrics. The reason being that psychometrics make an objective measurement of psychological aspects(behaviors, personality traits, and emotional experiences) incredibly easy. Psychometrics can be an extortionate affair. Some of the most relevant IQ tests come at an exorbitant price and require specialized training to administer. Forking out on expensive research materials is not a desirable option for students and trainees. Luckily some generous researchers make their tools available online for enabling researchers to facilitate research and development of new knowledge. However, one must take into account the reliability (the tool’s consistency) and validity(the tool’s accuracy) psychometric tools before utilizing them for research purposes.

Since time immemorial, humanity has tried to demystify the mystery around human personality – how to understand and quantify it? Modern trait-based theories consider personality as something which is constituted by a smaller number of traits that are present in people in varying degrees. These traits are assessed with different psychometric tools. Various psychometric tools are being created out of the International Personality Item Pool, a public domain collection of resources used for personality assessment. Alternatively, Mettl’s personality test and psychometric tools are crucial for evaluating the behavioral traits and mental abilities of human beings.

Psychometric Testing Tools

The implementation of Psychometrics depends on the concept and technique of psychological measurement. Tests are the primary tools to assess the mind, and imagining psychometrics (“psycho”= of mind; “metrics”= evaluation) without tests is not feasible. Psychometric tests add an element of objectivity to the evaluation process by assessing a candidate on such parameters as ability, attitude, competencies, intelligence, personality, etc. The accuracy of the test in predicting behavior and providing information on the capability of a person to react or perform in a certain way defines its usability. The test outcome is of utmost importance for making the right decisions.  

Listed below are the three groups on which many tests are based:

i) Personality Test:

In this type of measuring method, the focus is aimed at assessing the subject’s personality type. In particular, the essential tool employed in identifying vital personality traits is Mettl Personality Inventory(MPI). The essence of MPI is derived from the FFM (Five-Factor Model) and is built on it. 

What do Employers Look for in the Personality Test?

Employers want to ascertain whether the candidate under consideration can do the job, will perform the tasks with ease and will fit in. By evaluating the personality and behavioral pattern of candidates, they can measure the quality of hires. Personality tests give employers a fair idea about how well a candidate is likely to perform work-related tasks, such as teamwork, stakeholder management, sincerity towards rules and regulations, leadership, stress management, and more.

Employers are keen on hiring those candidates whose personality traits match the job requirements. For example:

Types of rolesSkills required
Candidates for HR based rolesEffective communication skills, structuring and planning of tasks, promising skills in stakeholders’ management, etc.
Candidates for engineering rolesAbility to cope with pressure, a judicious approach to work, workplace safety attitude, etc.
Candidates for sales-based rolesHigh motivation level, competitiveness, ability to close sales faster, etc.

The above examples indicate that the personality test is not about right or wrong answers. There is nothing either positive or negative in terms of personality. A personality is assessed based on its relevance to the job requirements.

ii) Aptitude Test:

This type of standardized test works wonders for measuring a person’s aptitude to take up a specific professional role. The test evaluates the subject’s knowledge, competencies, and abilities. The skills it measures are abstract thinking, mechanical reasoning, speed and precision, verbal reasoning, spatial relations, deduction, and induction, comprehending written texts, problem-solving, etc.

iii) Progress Test:

This test is aimed at finding the outcome from a specific learning process, and is administered once the training period is over. Various researches indicate that psychometric tests are reliable tools for finding the right candidates for multiple jobs. Only trained professionals must administer these tests. Psychometric testing tools have become an integral part of the selection and hiring process because they utilize various approaches and systems to produce accurate results. These tools are used in combination with other evaluation methods such as interviews and/or physical assessment centers.

Applications of Psychometric Testing Tools

In the education landscape, universities and colleges impart job training to the students, helping them master the skills to ace a face to face interview, but this is not the right way to go about it. Interviews are subjective and are prone to bias, which would not serve the purpose of finding the best professionals. In such a situation, psychometric testing comes in handy. It enables the organization to perform a holistic evaluation of the candidates’ personalities and competencies and identifies in the process the best person for the role.  

More than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the USA and more than 60 percent of the Times 100 best companies in the UK use different types of psychometric testing for hiring and improving productivity in teams. The increasing usage of psychometric testing tools for recruitment and selection attests to the tools’ popularity. Leading management consultancies, IT companies, financial institutions, local authorities, the civil service, and armed forces, among others, utilize psychometric testing extensively.  

Countries like India have witnessed a steady adoption of psychometric tools. A survey was conducted in the past that revealed that more than 15 percent of organizations use psychometric testing for making hiring decisions, and this was increasing at an annual rate of 10-15 percent. While some use these tools to gauge leadership potentials in candidates, many use it to assess the person-environment(PE) fit.  

The outcome of the psychometric test is measurable and objective data that paints a clear picture of the candidates’ suitability. Usually, such a test will not be used in isolation but as an integral part of the overall evaluation strategy. In times of screening, such an assessment will filter out a small talent pool that would be suitable for the interview stage. 

Earlier, psychometric tests were based on the pen-and-paper format, MCQs, but with the advent of digitalization came their digitized version. Now, HR professionals can easily integrate such tests into any phase of the hiring process and cut their workload significantly. A psychometric test assesses various human attributes such as critical reasoning, motivation, intelligence, and personality. Consequently, prospective employers can use these tests to find insights into the abilities, personality, and preferences of candidates and select those applicants who match their requirements.

Using Psychometric Tools to Measure the Symptoms of Mental Disorder

The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM) is a taxonomic and diagnostic tool from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Various health care professionals in America and some parts of the world use this authoritative hand guide as a ready reckoner for the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains vital information such as symptoms, descriptions, and various relevant criteria for identifying mental diseases. Its latest edition (DSM-5)uncovers intriguing insights on a variety of advanced measures that come in handy during the advanced phases of clinical evaluation and research. It’s undeniable that traumatic experiences of childhood can have a detrimental effect on human beings at a later stage (as adults). Evaluating beforehand the negative impact that these adverse experiences can reflect at a later point is critical; that’s why psychometric tools have different implementation approaches.

What is a good psychometric test score?

Even though there is not clearly established about a score labeled good or bad in a psychometric test, employers usually set their criteria as per their requirements. They set the passing score that could vary by tests and job levels. Employers emphasize on percentile scores because they want to know how candidates would fare against each other in an exam. For instance, a candidate scoring seventy-five percent seems like a good result, but if this score lies at the 50th percentile line, indicating that fifty percent of the candidates have scored higher than him/her, the score doesn’t look strong enough. Moreover, various jobs require a blend of skills. An employer keen on hiring a person with strong verbal comprehension skills would even give preference to a candidate who might have scored just forty percent in numerical skills but got a passing score of seventy percent for verbal skills. The psychometric exam’s duration can vary from twenty to thirty minutes, although some tests can be completed in as short as ten minutes or can take up to sixty minutes. Psychometric assessments either evaluate the speed (no.of questions to be completed in a given time) or depth of knowledge ( the most difficult questions answered by the candidate) or a mix of both.

Psychometric measures of creativity

Creativity is subjective, although some people are quite better at expressing their creative side than others. Some people excel in various creative areas, while others harness their creativity in one field. Moreover, it’s not that easy to define and measure creativity with the utmost accuracy. However, modern psychology delves deep into the realms of this subject and suggests some answers. Researchers proposed three ways of measuring creativity: psychometrics, social-personality approach,  and the creativity quotient (CQ). Assessing creativity with CQ is an ineffectual exercise because the generalization of creativity is an abstract approach. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring creativity. However, researchers came up with divergence tests that assessed creativity to some extent by including questions of imagination and open-mindedness in these tests. Such tests don’t intend to seek a single perfect answer but aim at finding how test-takers understand different concepts and uniqueness of their responses. The social-personality approach means to evaluate creativity by considering various personality factors, such as aesthetic orientation, confidence, risk-taking, and discretionary judgment. This approach somehow limits our understanding of creativity. 

That brings us to the final point, i.e, psychometric measures of creativity. Psychometrics could potentially be used to measure outcomes of creativity. This approach entails the use of questionnaires to evaluate people’s skills, the levels of knowledge and character traits to find out if personality, attitude, behavior, and thinking are creatively aligned. Shelley H. Carson, a lecturer at Harvard University, formulated the Creative Achievement Questionnaire (CAQ) in the year 2005. This psychometric tool was aimed at understanding creativity. It included respondents in rating their accomplishments in various creative domains such as visual arts, performing arts, architectural design, creative writing, scientific discovery, humor, and culinary arts. Psychometric measures creative outcomes quite effectively because people have a specific idea about their creativity. Still, despite that, it’s not quite so easy to self-assess creativity rationally and accurately.

Top Psychometric Assessment Tools by Mercer | Mettl

At Mercer | Mettl, a team of in-house psychometricians and data scientists served to take steps beyond the broader facets that describe the Five-Factor Model (FFM). Instead of resorting to a simplified model of the general  “Big Five” personality factors, the Mettl scientists developed twenty-six scales of narrower sub-facets on which Mettl Personality Inventory (MPI) tools are based. 

The FFM has shown to predict important job-related outcomes such as performance, the potential to burn out, trainability, and job satisfaction, among other things. For a quick refresher, refer the table below to review the five factors involved:

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Mettl Personality Inventory

 One of the best tools to come into production, the Mettl Personality Inventory (MPI) is an innovative, evidence-based assessment. It evaluates personality traits pertinent to crucial components of work. The test is aimed at predicting behavioral competencies related to business outcomes.

As is the case with any inventory, the MPI extensively focuses on its design to help employers gain access to objective information in synchronicity to a pre-existing employee or job applicant.

But in terms of test composition, the MPI consists of 80 items (questions) across the Big 5 personality factors or the five-factor model. One of its biggest advantages lies in its flexibility, allowing users in the form of client organizations to customize its configuration and scoring to fit specific needs of the same. It provides reports designed to facilitate hiring decisions for influencers within the organization.

The standard report is known to show scores based on the individual’s comparative scores across 8 critical and 17 sub-competencies. While the tool is suited to map to Mettl-Designed Competency Frameworks, the MPI also finds use through other competency frameworks pre-set within an organization.

Use of the Likert Scale

Likert Scaling is a bipolar scaling method that measures positive or negative responses with respect to a statement. On occasion, the Likert utilizes a seven-point scale where the middle option of Neither Agree nor Disagree is unavailable. This is often referred to as a forced-choice method, considering the removal of a neutral option. The MPI utilizes a five-point scale.

However, it would be imperative to understand that Likert Scales are subject to distortion from several causes:

  • Central Tendency Bias: The avoidance of using extreme response categories due to an inherent desire to avoid being perceived as an extremist.
  • Acquiescence Bias: An agreement of statements as presented, a situation particularly strong amongst children, developmentally disabled people, or the elderly. These are people often subject to a culture of institutionalization, which incentivizes and encourages an eagerness to please.
  • Social Desirability Bias: A portrayal based on what the examiner or society considers more favorable, regardless of trueness. This is an intersubjective version of either faking good – evaluated as indicating strength or lack of weakness or faking bad – provide answers that would be indicative of weakness or presence of impairment/pathology.

In terms of tool rigor, or quality of the test, the MPI scores between the range of 0.4-0.67 on validity, and 0.63-0.73 on reliability. The data was collected on a sample of 2,000+respondents representative of varying ages, genders, job levels, and education.

developement_and_validatioin_of_mpi_customization_through_product_lines_in_mettl

Mettl Dark Personality Inventory

The dark traits, such as narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, speak volumes about a person’s antisocial behavior. A psychometric tool to assess negative personality constructs, known as the Mettl Dark Personality Inventory, has been created utilizing these six dark traits: Opportunism, Self-Obsession, Insensitivity, Temperamental, Impulsiveness, and Thrill-Seeking. This personality diagnostic is aimed at helping organizations safeguard their work culture and ensure the safety of customers. 

Mettl Personality Profiler

The Mettl Personality Profiler (MPP) is an efficient tool to evaluate a person’s potential and growth mindset based on key personality traits and working preferences and focuses on behavioral preferences of candidates based on their predispositions.

It makes use of the Semantic Differential Scale, which limits the problem of respondents either faking good or bad. 

Key features and functionality remain inherently similar to the MPI with customizability outside the Mettl Competency Framework, in the tool’s ability to map to any job role within organizationally specific competency frameworks and measure relevant traits required for critical work.

The tool allows its users to customize its scoring and configuration to tailor to specific needs also, using client inputs to determine performance-based or behavioral competencies most critical to success in the organizational or individualized process.

MPP reports are known to facilitate smoother hiring decisions with comparative scores representative of 8 critical competencies and 17 sub-competencies.

Use of the Semantic Differential Scale

The Semantic Differential (SD) scale works on the measurement of two polar objectives. For example, good-to-evil, adequate-to-inadequate, valuable-to-worthless. It primarily measures opinions, values, and attitudes on a psychometrically controlled scale.

In contrast to the Likert Scale, where a candidate is given a choice to either agree or disagree with a statement, the Semantic Differential Scale offers to help a candidate complete a statement with two polarized options along with a neutral or balanced option.

Additionally, a semantic differential response format may offer alternatives to negations for reducing much of the bias experienced with the Likert scale. But a drawback with the format is an increased cognitive demand from the candidates, introducing new errors in scores.

In a study conducted by Oddgeir Friborg, Monica Martinussen, and Jan H. Rosenvinge, 334 university students completed a psychometric test using both formats. Apart from a slightly reduced variance and internal consistency, the factor structure in the semantic differential version fitted the data better. It reduced bias without lowering psychometric quality.

In terms of tool rigor, or quality of the test, the MPP scores between the range of 0.4-0.75 on validity, and 0.63-0.88 on reliability.

developement_and_validation_mpp_customization_through_product_lines_in_mettl

Mettl Sales Profiler

The Mettl Sales Profiler (MSP) is a proprietary tool that includes a competency-based framework, which aids in building a perfect sales team. The innovative profiler tool identifies the crucial cognitive and behavioral competencies for addressing the growing needs of organizations. It measures team cohesiveness with high-value pieces across the board, ensuring that the team, on the whole, performs at absolute efficiency. This is done via the identification of critical cognitive and behavioral competencies unique to your organizational requirements.

MSP is incredibly useful in evaluating a sales person’s true potential for each job role regardless of industrial or hierarchical differences, be it an in-store shoe salesperson or someone primed to sell complex IT solutions to CXOs. The tool also serves to address your critical priorities with data-backed insights, helping save time and in the manifestation of better business decisions.

The theory behind the psychometric tools for assessment stems from collaborative research with SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management). Based on extensive research, the tool creates itself from the empirical evidence of over 1,600+ sales professionals across industries. It also forms its foundation on a Three-Factor Model.

A Mettl-SHRM Whitepaper titled – Demystifying Sales Hiring covers the Three-Factor Model, includes examples that cover several job roles across industries.

With assessment technology applied primarily on investigative research on a performance bell curve of employees and secondary research from the subject matter or industry experts, a couple of competencies and sub-competencies have been found to influence sales job roles.

competency_model_Psychometric_Assessments_and_Tests_customization_through_product_lines_in_mettl

More information regarding the competencies utilized is better received from literature covered in Mettl Science.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help?

Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric testing tools are immensely useful in building winning teams that are driven to succeed. Our behavioral evaluation tools accurately measure critical workplace competencies. We offer holistic solutions for all your hiring and learning and development needs. You could either pick a prebuilt test from our vast psychometric resources or even get a customized one for yourself. Developed after years of extensive research and meticulous efforts, Mettl’s psychometric assessments offer valuable insights into personality traits and work behaviors. Our differentiated offerings, Mettl’s proprietary tools, are a product of painstaking research and unflinching alignment to prominent psychometric theories, such as The Big Five Theory, Watson Glaser, Raven’s Progressive Matrices, and Iceberg Model. For every hiring challenge, Mettl has a solution. Learn more about the product features available that make recruiting an easy breezy task.

Originally published April 12 2018, Updated August 11 2020

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