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A psychometric assessment (also known as a psychometric test) is an exercise generally carried out to understand a candidate’s traits and abilities to thrive in a job or overall career. Psychometric assessments come in many (various) forms and are a blanket term for any test aimed at measuring one’s personality or cognitive skills. Most psychometric assessments are conducted online.
A psychometric test is a standard and scientific method employed by organizations to assess a candidate’s mental ability and behavioral style. Psychometric assessments intend to evaluate individuals’ suitability for a role based on the much-needed cognitive skills and personality characteristics. Psychometric tests determine the extent to which an individual’s aptitude and personality match those needed to execute the role. Generally, these tests are administered online. Employers utilize the data collected from an online psychometric test to reveal the participants’ underlying aspects that cannot be extracted by a face-to-face interview.
Psychometric testing found its origins in the early 20th century when French psychologist Alfred Binet did the first intelligence test in 1905.
China happens to be the first civilization that undertook psychometric testing while hiring in the military. Thereafter, armies of other nations relied on a personality test called Woodworth Personality Data Sheet in 1917 to shortlist abled personals.
Even though the origin of psychometric testing dates back to ancient times, the modern-day psychometric test was, however, developed by statistician and psychologist Francis Galton. Also known as the ‘Father of Psychometrics,’ Galton was the first to coin the term ‘psychometric’. He designed a framework in the 1880s to assess people’s intelligence based on their motor and sensory skills. James McKeen Cattell, who named psychometric assessments as ‘mental tests,’ extended Galton’s work.
Modern-day psychometric assessments find their roots in 19th century France when physicians used them to identify patients who have a mental illness.
French psychologists Alfred Binet, Victor Henri, and Theodore Simon devised a psychometric test to assess young children with mental deficiencies. Their 15-year long development journey surfaced multiple aspects of human personality, such as mental and verbal skills. This ‘mental retardation’ test came to be known as the Binet-Simon test. In the latest edition of 2003 by Stanford researcher Lewis M. Terman, the test is now known as Stanford-Binet test. The psychometric test that has evolved over the ages continues to remain an integral part of modern-day recruitment and selection methods.
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Psychometric tests are an objective way of assessing the potential ability of examinees for particular job roles. With these tests comes the convenience of evaluating a variety of skills ranging from levels of knowledge, cognitive skills to personality assessment. Psychometric tools are popularly used in business recruitment processes. Nowadays, many candidates(fresh out of college) have to take psychometric tests (in one form or other) in the preliminary round of the application process. Rewind back a few years when recruiters used to rely heavily on CVs and qualifications and interviews for making the hiring decisions. Previous reports suggest that there are high chances of making bad hiring decisions based on gut-feeling, assumption, or bias. That’s why psychometric tests are favored by employers that use them in combination with interviews and assessments. The prominent aspect of psychometric testing is that test scores and job performance are strongly correlated, i.e., if somebody gets high scores in a psychometric test, the chances are high that they’ll perform well in the job. Such instruments appeal to employers because of their predictive qualities. Moreover, these tests are administered easily and scaled quickly, which makes them ideal for recruitment purposes.
Here are some of the main benefits of psychometric evaluation tools for recruitment:
Objectivity- Traditional approach to hiring is instinctive and heavily dependent on interviews and flashy CV descriptions. Psychometric assessments remove this element of subjectivity in the decision-making approach and provide fair, biased-free talent assessment.
Accuracy- Psychometric evaluation enables hiring managers to measure an individual’s abilities to process information, solve problems, make decisions while also assessing their behavioral attributes. Using this evaluation, essential data on all candidates get generated that recruiters utilize to make rational decisions about candidates.
Speed – even small-sized organizations receive numerous applications for available positions and that it would take a considerably long time to sift through all applications. Psychometric assessment enables companies to focus on the right candidates instead of dragging down the process.
Psychometric assessments encompass two categories:
These tests evaluate the mental abilities of individuals. Having one right answer to each question, they allow people to answer the questions in a limited period. They test an individual’s critical thinking, logical reasoning, verbal ability and problem-solving skills. They assess how individuals use past experiences in novel situations. An aptitude test measures logical reasoning and verbal ability.
Mettl has a huge inventory of aptitude tests, catering to various fields and traits, which are as follows:
Human behavior is an amalgamation of how individuals perceive and react to different situations. It is on this premise that personality tests are based on. They follow the OCEAN model of:
Personality assessments help organizations understand the candidate’s behavior whether they would perform well in a team or strive for better or not be able to cope with criticism, These tests effectively assess the behaviors and motivations of a person.
Mercer| Mettl’s personality inventory provides a string of solutions:
These tests make hiring smoother and hassle-free for human resources (HRs), at the same time ensuring your new hires stay with the organization in the long-run. They help in observing the emotions as well as the skills of the person you are considering to hire.
Mercer | Mettl provides organizations with the inventory of assessments that make hiring easier and smoother. The concoction of mental and measurement in organizations makes hiring and retention through employee engagement better.
Over the last decade, psychometric assessments moved from being a luxury into becoming an industrial norm across different stages of the employee life cycle. They have become integral to businesses.
In most cases, psychometrics includes a combination of personality and cognitive tests. And for the longest time, they’ve been splitting hairs in the organizational ecosystem.
It’s easy enough to find a camp of seasoned professionals labeling the test as a valuable resource, and another that brands the same as a pseudo-scientific pile of crock. If you’d like to know which side works stronger than the other, reading further would suffice the need.
It stands to reason that each person is built differently, or rather – they have an idea of their own personality type. It could perhaps remain within the realm of polar opposites; reserved or outgoing, sensitive or thick-skinned.
Psychometricians and psychologists have tried to tease the science out of what defines personality, and if it makes sense to attribute individual differences to the way people think, feel or behave. Psychologists have collectively taken a stance to forfeit the idea of dividing humanity into types. They have instead laid emphasis on the concept of personality types.
The Big Five Model is one of the most adopted models in the traits theory:
The Big Five Factor Model was developed in the 1970s by two research teams led by Robert R. McCrae, Paul Costa, Lewis Goldberg and Warren Norman. The model has a simplified human personality.
Individuals possessing this trait have a natural penchant towards adventure and art. They are curious, creative and open to change. Meanwhile, people averse to openness stick to their old routine, habits and keep new experiences at bay.
A shift in someone’s personality is next to impossible, however, the extent of openness tends to evolve in adulthood. This was observed by a group of researchers in 2011 when they analyzed the effects of psilocybin mushroom on a group of people. Consuming the hallucinogen made the controlled group more open with the effects lasting around a year. Thus, it was concluded that the results may have been permanent.
People high on conscientiousness are organized and have a sense of responsibility. They have the drive to achieve their goals and are highly reliable. This trait has shown marked achievement on the job. People on the opposite side, however, are spontaneous and careless.
Individuals that possess extraversion indicate various characteristics including sociability and talkativeness. They draw their energy from day-to-day social interactions or gatherings. Such individuals are mostly cheerful and assertive in their approach.
Meanwhile, introverts are a professor of ‘me time’. While the trait often gets mixed up with being shy, that’s not the case. Individuals with high introversion trait prefer smaller group activities when required and tend to enjoy their own company more.
Agreeableness is indicative of a person’s kindness. Such individuals are trusting and helpful. On the other hand, disagreeable people are cold, suspicious of others and less cooperative.
It is interesting to note that disagreeable men earn more compared to their counterparts and women as they conform to traditional gender roles. The research paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows how agreeableness and income are inversely proportional and more negative for men than women.
Individuals possessing this trait worry a lot and oftentimes find themselves feeling depressed and anxious. People low on neuroticism are emotionally stable and exhibit calm and composure when faced with problems.
In the famous sitcom Seinfield, George has seen constantly cribbing and blaming everyone for his problems. He even goes as far as quitting his job for having denied access to a private bathroom. This is a classic example of neurosis.
The answer is maybe. In 2017, Psychological Bulletin furnished 207 published research papers that revealed studies about altering personality via therapy. The Nature vs. Nurture debate also plays part in fluctuating personalities through the course of time. It identifies with whether the environment determines human behavior – life experiences – against the concept of a person’s gene code.
As far back as the 1690s, John Locke coined the term tabula rasa. It depicted that behavioral traits are almost always a function of environmental influences. This was held in high regard for much of the 20th century.
However, as both nature and nurture factors were found to contribute exponentially, the idea of personality as a consequence of either nature or nurture was viewed as outdated or naïve by most scholars of human development by the early 2000s. In fact, the two parts are known to heavily influence each other.
It is now considered ancient – the complementary existence of the two concepts, nature and nurture. Before going any further, however, considering the varied use of the words personality and behavior, it seems appropriate to pause to distinguish the two almost interchangeable terms.
Author of the title, Performance: The Secrets of Successful Behavior, Robin Stuart-Kotze identified personality as a concept that solidified at about five years of age. While we, as human beings are known to be more flexible, it is still widely believed that the changing of one’s values, attitudes, aspirations, and beliefs – the core elements of personality – is difficult.
On the other hand, despite much of behavior being a result of an individual’s values or beliefs, it is considered easier to behave differently – if only for a short moment of time – than to change core beliefs. However, different behaviors that convert to successful outcomes have been known to change even deeply held views or beliefs.
Another popular definition of personality hinges on predictability. According to Wright, personality finds its roots in the relatively stable and enduring aspects of an individual that sets them apart from other people. It formed the basis of predictions concerning future behavior also.
Personality, in this sense, is neither about social skills nor evaluation. It instead manifests into those aspects of a person said to account for behavior and therefore their situational judgments in the future.
Understanding the difference is necessary. For example, self-awareness is the fundamental facet of all phenomenal leaders. If an individual is self-aware of preferred behaviors given the situation, it becomes easier to thereby adapt or change outcomes with respect to the same.
At the turn of the 19th century, Charles Edward Spearman, an English psychologist, and the pioneer of factor analysis coined the ‘G’ or General Intelligence Factor. It was the underlying commonality to all aptitude, and a part of his two-factor theory of intelligence that also accounted for an s-factor of specific intellectual abilities.
Modern researchers continue to expand on the concept despite early criticism of the same. However, there is no denying that intelligence is complicated. An aptitude is a combination of characteristics indicative of an individual’s capacity to acquire, with training, some specific knowledge, skill or set of organized responses, such as the ability to speak a language, to become a musician, to do mechanical work, by definition at least.
Therefore, it is possible to say that aptitude defines a person’s potential ability in an activity of a specialized kind, but within a restricted range.
In terms of an example, when we identify an individual as someone with an aptitude for teaching, it implies that he or she has the capacity or ability to acquire proficiency in teaching under appropriate conditions.
Surprisingly, the nature vs. nurture debate finds its presence within cognitive intelligence also. Is it reasonable to assume a person showing musical aptitude to possess a musical throat? Yes. It is, however, equally possible for that individual to have developed musical aptitude in the company of good musicians.
Just as it is with personality though, it is safer to conclude that the cognitive intelligence or aptitude of an individual – at any instant of time – is a consequence of both heredity and environmental factors.
Interestingly, aptitude may also remain a function of a part of the brain called the neocortex, which makes roughly two-thirds of the brain. As probably the most advanced part of the brain, it also determines what we’ve popularly come to know as the left or right brain dominance.
This attributes left-brain dominant individuals as cold, clinical, or linguistically proficient among others. While right-brain dominant individuals exhibit bouts of brilliance in creativity, emotional expression, and intuitiveness.
It forms an important aspect of psychometrics simply because of its versatility. Oxford tests for aptitude in history, astronauts test for spatial aptitude, pilots test for psychomotor aptitude to ascertain fitness for the sky. It’s because of this feature that aptitude also translates to the effectiveness with which an individual acquires specific skills.
In an organizational context, psychometrics has a lot to do with testing both before and after employment. Aptitude measurement covers the understanding of an individual’s intelligence and ability to acquire new skills, becoming a future indicator for high performance.
Contrarily, personality and behavioral tests account for the assessment of traits that attribute to the positive impact of the individual based on the environment that exists within the organization, to begin with. In simple words, if the aptitude tests tell whether a person can do the job, psychometrics assure if the candidate actually fits the role in
It’s this combination perhaps, that necessitates the requirement of psychometrics across stages in the employee lifecycle, impacting business outcomes and bottom lines based on apt implementation.
Skill tests are designed to measure the level of skill in an applicant or employee across a variety of topics and areas important in the workplace. For example, it may include data entry, coding or even typing. It also covers the broad spectrum of tools that would be required in an organizational setup.
There are several advantages of utilizing a well-made skill test as a part of a pre-employment selection process or maybe an employee development program.
At the same time, when it comes to the development of said tests: they are meant to be valid. For instance, an MS Excel test would test the applicant’s knowledge of Excel and its features without straying from the topic in question. There are different levels within the skills test to consider also, ensuring that the questions become more difficult through the rising levels of difficulty.
Validity is not the only criterion of consideration though. A good test for skills is also reliable and consistent. The idea is that if an employee or candidate tests for a similar assessment at two different points of time, they ought to perform in a reasonably similar manner. The idea being that an individual with sound working knowledge of MS Excel is unlikely to no longer possess said skills at a later time.
In terms of reliability, it is also important for the test-maker to consider:
Lastly, a sound skills test does not discriminate against people based on anything but their ability to demonstrate and apply said skills. Everyone with the appropriate level of skill must be allowed passage into the next stage.
Pen-and-paper personality tests in an organizational context were near nonexistent prior to the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, the contemporary application of these measures and tests for personnel selection could be attributed to the field of management science and turn-of-the-century industrial psychologists.
Interestingly, through the aftermath of World War I, with the expansion of American business in terms of size, complexity, competition and employee regulation, the development of rational management systems pushed into the spotlight. It recommended the application of scientific methods to organizational problems.
I think we need a topic on understanding human personality, behavior and inherent traits and abilities, Knowledge and externally acquired skills before we deep dive into Psychometric Tests, It is important for the reader to develop the understanding of how different traits, skills, abilities interact to form personality and behavior of individual
By raw definition, personality tests gather information about an individual to make inferences about personal characteristics. These include feelings, behaviors or thoughts. They are designed to measure aspects of personality that determine – or are predictive of – successful performance at work, thinking style, workplace relationships, task management, feelings, and motivation.
But coming to the basic question, would you trust personality tests? Models of personality have ranged from Eysenck’s 2-dimensional personality model to Cattell’s 171 traits with a ton of others in between. With the development of sophisticated meta-analytic techniques, researchers have been able to aggregate specific traits into broad behaviors that define job performance.
In the 1990s, estimates of the validity of personality testing inched toward the development of factorial approaches that have come to be known as the Big-Five Personality Dimensions – Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness. These factors have shown to reliably predict ratings of job and training proficiencies. Despite modern flaws, and even those mentioned above, these tests have proven to be successful also.
It’s interesting to note that from this example, and also from many others – personality assessments are rarely among tests to be considered on a stand-alone basis. They do function best in combination with a battery of others. It’s why you’re likely to find different recipes to psychometric assessments, the most common pairing being between personality and cognitive tests.
Cognitive tests are all about measuring your competence and intellectual capabilities. It also works into understanding your logical and analytical reasoning abilities in a very specific area. This translates to a reasonably accurate assessment of your abilities to use specific job-related skills and to predict consequent job performance.
They are generally time-limited with results measured against past test-takers; this extrapolates into a comparable assessment of a person’s level of ability or aptitude.
Despite high utility and predictive validity by cognitive tests, few use them as selection tools. A reason for this is in cognitive tests’ inherent issue in producing group differences or adverse impact. For example, African-Americans or Hispanics score lower in comparison to the general population. At the same time, Asian-Americans tended to score higher.
Interestingly, legal challenges to cognitive ability testing began with the famous 1971 Griggs v. Duke Power case. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that when a selection test produces an adverse impact against protected groups, the company must furnish a defense by showing that use of the test is a business necessity.
Historically, courts have held narrow interpretations of business necessity that require companies to show that no other plausible or acceptable selection alternative exists. In consequence, several companies abandoned the use of cognitive tests.
Over the years, there have been several attempts to mitigate this such as norming or banding.
To reach a conclusion using an aptitude or cognitive test is erroneous, to say the least. But the test doesn’t come without its benefits. There are instances where cognitive tests find popular and legitimate use; the opposite holds true also.
In definition, a standardized test is administered and scored in a consistent, or “standard”, manner. They are, in fact, designed in a way that stabilizes questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations as consistent.
Standardized testing could be composed of true-false, multiple-choice, authentic assessments or essays. It’s possible to shape any form of assessment into standardized tests. When it comes to the creation of psychometric assessments, questions are measured in scales. And these too are often most valid with standardization post-creation.
Three factors when creating/standardizing psychometric tests:
This is a question that holds some great significance for candidates who are keen on acing the psychometric test. Listed below are some preparation tips that will come in handy:
Examinees should focus on completing all the problems in the numerical reasoning assessment, but they shouldn’t reach the point of burnout in case of any difficulty. Passing psychometric tests is no mean feat because answering all the questions within the time frame.
Usually, the toughest questions are placed at the end of the aptitude tests, and every problem has the same number of points. Students will not get bonus marks for puzzling out a difficult question.
When taking an aptitude test, candidates should allocate time wisely until the test is completed. Instead of working till the time is through, they should ensure error-free work and double-check the answers to all questions. Sometimes, the problems seem so simple that it’s easy to make mistakes.
Most personality tests require specific questions to evaluate the truthfulness and integrity of candidates. One of these parameters is social desirability. Under this scale, the questions reflect on undesirable behaviors that somebody might have demonstrated at least once in former times. A candidate who doesn’t show such tendencies will get a high social desirability score, which helps in differentiating between a genuine and fake candidate.
In some aptitude tests, skipping questions( items) is not an option. In such cases, candidates should resort to guessing instead of wasting time on such items. Time-management, guessing, and minimizing score loss per item are some areas that must be taken into account.
A calculator would also come in handy in some cases. In numerical reasoning questions, where the focus is mainly on assessing candidates’ time management skills with accuracy, test- takers can use calculators, given that it is allowed to be used during the test.
Personality assessment includes several questions that are used to measure personality traits. Hence, examinees should be consistent in replying to those questions.
As with any other exam, practicing psychometric tests will keep candidates from last-minute stress and other factors that hamper performance.
It’s evidential that the term psychometric refers to the concepts and techniques of psychological measurement. There are many underlying aspects of an individual’s personality that one cannot easily identify during an interview. That reality is further backed up by the fact that some of the world’s leading companies recruit the right candidates via psychometric evaluation. Objective evaluation helps in revealing essential aspects of an individual’s personality, thus enabling recruiters to make well-informed hiring decisions. Since there are no right or wrong answers in this assessment, psychometric profiling offers an unbiased evaluation of the candidate’s abilities. Psychometric testing is also useful in gauging the future performance of a person and will, in turn, improve employee retention by making the right people decisions.
Psychometric profiling assessments are psychological tools that employers wish to use for ascertaining the suitability of candidates for various roles. These tests vary in subject matter and content to evaluate some of the most sought-after skill sets. Some of the prominent psychometric testing tools used nowadays in recruitment are numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning tests.
There are two main reasons why companies use psychometric tests. Firstly it is considered useful in improving and minimizing HR and hiring costs. Secondly, it ensures that they’ll have nothing but good candidates on board, thus reducing the attrition rate. The primary purpose of psychometric profiling assessment is to ascertain that the examinees have the required skills and cognitive abilities to take a role in the organization.
Companies that use psychometric assessments are extremely serious about their selection process. For instance, among other HR practices, Deloitte includes initial screening interviews, psychometric evaluation, and the final round of interviews. Regardless of the type of the industry under consideration, psychometric assessments benefit almost everybody – organizations that wish to enhance their selection and retention process can incorporate it into their system for better results.
Orange, Gold, Green, and Blue; these four colors form the core of True Colors methodology and provide us a unique personality-identification system. Each color expresses a different type of personality and uncovers useful social information about human beings. True Colors is a crucial tool that fosters an environment of collaboration and understanding. But how? This methodology emphasizes the interaction between different personality types. Getting a grasp of the tool will be useful for organizations that have realized the imperative need for effective communication and collaboration among its employees. True Colors personality profiling system takes cues from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and provides an interactive and practical tool.
Orange- Energetic, Spontaneous, Action-Oriented, Competitive, Risk-taker, and Charming
Gold- Punctual, Methodical, Organized, and Dependable
Green- Analytical, Innovator, Problem-Solver, Visionary, and Intuitive
Blue- Compassionate, Balanced, Empathetic, Cooperative, Faithful, and Team player
Psychometric evaluation is a process that critically examines individual differences that may determine an individual’s suitability for a job role. It aims to collect and analyze information gathered through psychometric testing to gain insight into a candidate’s strengths and development areas and use it during the later stages of the recruitment process, such as video or in-person interviews.
Mercer|Mettl’s online platform enables both recruiters and companies to make great people decisions with a comprehensive suite of tools for talent assessment and recruiting solutions. Evaluating the accuracy of talent assessment in various domains is no mean feat. Similarly, ascertaining the efficacy of decisions concerning recruitment, training, and development of candidates/employees isn’t as easy as it seems. Such critical decisions can’t be taken in the blink of an eye. A thorough, well-researched, and analytics-led approach is pivotal, and that’s where the Mettl approach comes in handy.
With its extensive library of tests and simulators comes the foolproof way to evaluate the knowledge, underlying abilities, behavioral attributes, and skills of candidates with utmost accuracy. There is a wide range of psychometric, cognitive, role-centric, and technical assessments available for making well-informed recruiting decisions.
Getting the right people is crucial for every organization, and there’s no scope for errors. Mettl’s Psychometric assessments and tools that suit every client’s unique needs reduce the scope for human errors. Organizations can very well leverage these scientific and data-backed tools to address their key issues. So, what do you want us to assess? If your organization wants to determine candidates’ intelligence, personality, and reasoning skills, it might be best to go for tools that address these needs.
Similarly, if you are looking for tests that measure skills for specific roles, you may want to employ specialized tools, such as code evaluation platforms and SpeechX. It’s high time that you have measured the human personality and predicted the exhibited behavior. Get better talent assessment with Mettl!
Psychometric Assessments: Gauge Human Behaviour and Traits for Better People Decisions
Originally published December 3 2019, Updated July 15 2021
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