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It is an incontestable fact that the recruitment industry is not in its infancy anymore, but rather progressing by leaps and bounds. Automation has lent unparalleled ease to the hiring process, making it more structured with virtual hiring tools, such as video interviews and skills assessments – thanks to contributing factors such as technological proliferation and pandemic-induced remote work ecosystem. However, despite these significant changes, as most talent acquisition leaders will know, there is so much that goes into hiring a new employee. And perhaps accelerating the hiring process without avoiding probable hiring potholes is something that might tickle every recruiter’s fancy. The reason is that candidates can easily lie on their CVs and conceal the truth by embellishing details on the resume, exaggerating job duties, framing fake references and whatnot.
It seems unjustifiable to ascertain somebody’s suitability for a particular job without validating someone’s work and personality. Probably that is why organizations take their recruitment process exceptionally seriously and consider probation periods to be its integral part. The reason is that the company wants to ensure that prospective hires have the skillset, learning ability and agility, ownership over their work, and most importantly, alignment with organizational values. Unfortunately, however, it is unfeasible to gain insights into potential employees’ personality traits and natural abilities merely by gleaning from resumes. This is where psychometric testing comes into play.
Psychometric testing for hiring refers to an objective, standardized process of conducting assessments to examine indiscernible, less obvious human traits such as attitude, intelligence, personality, and beliefs. These tests can help assess a candidate’s suitability for a role or organization. These tests include reasoning tests, ability assessments, personality profiles, and motivation questionnaires, etc. These tests are scientifically valid and reliable instruments, which aim to define otherwise subjective measurements objectively. For example, suppose you want to gain insights into someone’s attitude. In that case, you may achieve that by asking that person right away, observing their actions, or even connecting with their peers to unearth some vital information. However, the acquired information via these mediums is prone to be affected by personal bias. In such cases, administering psychometric tests will help you make impartial and objective decisions.
Psychometric testing in recruitment provides a holistic perspective of the job candidate. Through psychometric testing, recruiters can get a rounded view of the interviewee’s personality traits, , logical processes, problem-solving capabilities, emotional and mental balance, integrity, and data analysis skills. This holistic view helps recruiters determine more accurately whether the candidate will be the right fit for the job and, more importantly, the company culture.
However, since these tests are based on psychometric principles, they must meet the following criteria:
The test must yield similar results every time without being governed by outside factors. Although there could be some variance in testing scores due to different administration conditions, the reliability of a psychometric test refers to the consistency in measurement.
A reliable psychometric test underpins its validity, intending to measure what it is expected to measure. It must furnish meaningful, helpful, and adequate information that justifies and suits the assessment's purpose.
The test must be administered under suitable conditions, which can also be repeated in the future to ensure that all candidates are treated without disparity. A standardized test provides objectivity of scoring conditions to assess candidates based on ethical and comparison standards. For example, suppose two test takers are undertaking assessments in two different testing conditions (let us assume: noisy and quiet environments). In that case, it is self-explanatory that the candidate undertaking the test in a noisy area would be significantly affected by the environment, which would hamper the candidate’s performance on the test. In such a case, the test scores cannot be considered reliable because the conditions under which the test was administered were not standardized.
Now that we have already covered what embodies the term “psychometric test,” we will explore whether psychometric testing works in recruitment.
Even though the experience of hiring professionals speaks for itself, the fallacies of presumption can engender costly hiring mistakes. Hinging on what potentially deceptive CVs or interviews imply about a person’s skills or work ethics can jeopardize the entire recruiting process. That being said, many recruiters often grapple with this question: Does psychometric testing work in recruitment?
Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Moreover, one should refrain from making hasty decisions based on cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Just because someone has worked for the most prominent organizations does not mean it speaks volumes about the candidate’s job fit. On the flip side, most candidates have much more to offer than what is just mentioned in their resumes and not to mention; sometimes biases also creep into reference checks. So, going from micro to macro hiring perspective can keep recruiters from playing the odds and invest in a streamlined, holistic approach to hiring candidates the right way. That is where psychometric tests come into play.
Psychometric testing can come as a bonus to complement recruitment and selection practices, enabling employers to select the best-fit applicants. Today, the transitory and constantly changing employment relationship profoundly impacts the worker-employee relationship. As a result, employers are gravitating towards a more employee-focused approach where they want to look beyond hard skills, know more about the applicant, their interests, soft skills, and most importantly, their ability to communicate and collaborate with others.
When it comes to using psychometric tests for recruitment, one thing is evident. These tests provide a rounded view of a candidate, underscoring key attributes that one can hardly retrieve from CVs or face-to-face interviews. Employers can leverage different psychometric tests specific to their hiring requirements, including personality tests, logical reasoning, verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. Each test provides a distinct perspective of how a potential candidate exhibits a particular ability or skill. These tests can provide critical insights into candidates’ personality traits, integrity, and culture fit. Just as importantly, they reveal their logical thinking process, aptitude for problem-solving, and the ability to interpret & process a range of data.
While it makes no sense to harbor reservations about an experienced recruiter’s ability to do the job, a more objective and quantifiable process is still required to enhance the reliability and fairness of the recruitment process. Recruiters can add substance to the hiring process by including psychometric testing to gain granular insights into candidates’ tendencies and how likely they are to perform and behave at work. This way, it provides a level-playing field for candidates because interviewers can garner objective and reliable insights about the aptitude and personality of candidates, which will weed out the risk of unconscious hiring bias and provide each candidate an equal chance of success. It also removes hiring bias that hampers diversity.
Several psychometric test styles and formats are available, each designed to gauge a different trait or skill. Employers can select the tests adequate to their hiring needs and tailor their recruitment strategies to attract and retain the best talent. Some job roles pivot around specific personality traits or attributes, making it imperative that only candidates who meet these criteria be considered. For example, healthcare professionals are expected to be empathetic and patient and have the aptitude for working with numerical data crucial for successful medication administration.
Investing time and efforts on psychometric tests for recruitment purposes can avoid costly hiring mistakes that arise when there is excessive reliance on human judgment to determine the suitability of candidates. A well-structured hiring process employs a data-driven approach, and psychometric tests are instrumental in providing crucial data for predicting how suitable someone is to a job role and organization.
Psychometric tests provide insights into how employees work, their innate behavioral traits, and likelihood of success at work. These tests help in bringing a candidate’s strengths and values to the fore, which are hard to be retrieved from resumes. Most importantly, they help employers focus on finding candidates who align their beliefs, values, and behaviors with that of their organization’s values and culture.
Psychometric testing is carried out to assess a candidate’s aptitude, mental ability, behavioral style, personality traits, cognitive skills, and other underlying aspects of their personality. It can also help improve employee retention because when the right people are hired for the right roles, it translates into a ripple effect that shoots up productivity within a team and combats turnover and builds a happier workforce.
“It goes one step beyond intuition and helps recruiters identify the positive and negative traits and potential of candidates objectively and scientifically. By formally prescribing specific skills and attributes to candidates, recruiters can make sure that they are the right fit for the role and that they will be able to add value to their work. Similarly, for positions that require skills that one cannot measure on the face value – say honesty – like in the banking system, such tests come in handy, “adds Joe Flanagan, Senior Employment Advisor, VelvetJobs.
Branka Vuleta, general manager & founder of LegalJobs, echoes this sentiment and asserts, “Using psychometric tests in recruitment is nothing new, and even more – it has become an essential part of any screening process. It is a series of tests assembled to take a deeper look into a candidate’s psyche and personality. It is highly recommended and encouraged to do a well-prepared test, since it can save a lot of unnecessary costs in the long run, like re-hiring, bad performances and so on. The best tests are done by professional agencies, which may come at a higher cost, but can guarantee more precise results“.
Of all the skills, traits, and aptitudes psychometric tests evaluate, these are mainly categorized into two groups: personal traits and cognitive abilities.
Personal traits: Psychometric tests may contain questions that can help identify positive and negative personality traits with respect to the job role. They can objectively assess the personal characteristics of candidates applying for a job role and if the candidate is the right fit.
Attitudes: These tests can help assess candidates’ attitudes, including their thought process, empathy levels towards others, and reactions to unfamiliar situations and challenges.
Values: Values that impart formative or essential characteristics to a person’s behavior and attitude can also be measured using these tests.
Behavior: Behavioral assessments are unequivocally used in the domain of psychology to understand, describe, interpret, predict, and at times rectify behavior. These tests help recruiters determine if a candidate is well-suited to the role they are applying for and also provides some behavioral insights about the person’s future job performance.
Motivation: These tests can shed some light on several factors that affect candidates’ motivation levels and ignite a willingness to excel and govern their work choices.
Aptitude: These tests can help determine whether a candidate possesses the cognitive ability or the mental intelligence to perform his/her duties well and to learn new skills
Intelligence: Psychometric tests help in quantifying and defining the concepts of intelligence through mental tests, such as logical reasoning, spatial thinking, mechanical reasoning, emotional and social intelligence, etc.
Anyone in a recruiting role understands how costly mishiring can be, particularly when hiring decisions are based on wrong assumptions, beliefs, and presumptions. However, psychometric testing provides reliable performance indicators for future work performance and a basis for anticipating whether someone would be a good match for any position. Hence, recruiters should look for psychometric results that help them decide what type of personality they feel will best align with a specific role and the behavioral traits that they would expect the best candidates to exhibit. This way, they can achieve a comprehensive view of candidates’ abilities to determine who is likely to fit the role much better than others.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to using psychometric tests for recruitment and selection. The reason is that different roles will require different psychological profiles. For example, a psychometric test might reveal whether someone thrives in tackling new challenges every day or excels in a usual routine. The former would work wonders for sales-centered roles, but the latter might be suitable for accounting roles. However, the test results should not be the sole parameter that governs the rest of the recruitment process; but instead, they should aid and add value to the recruitment process.
One of the foremost concerns for every recruiter is to know the candidate well before making the final selection. The underlying idea of every test and interview is to have an improved understanding of a candidate. Knowing them better is a must to deploy them in job roles befitting their abilities.
But the challenge for recruiters has always been to find valid reasons to hire a particular candidate. Customarily, a candidate who fares well in the initial levels of the tests and interviews is suitable for the job. But there are certain human traits that these traditional ways of evaluation fail to assess. For example, suppose you are hiring a team leader. Specific skills would be expected of the individual, such as communicating with team members being an essential requirement.
Further, the ability to handle pressure and quick decision-making may be the other essential qualities. Going through someone’s resume or even a thorough interview would not be enough to quantify these personal qualities and assure the recruiter of the final selection. This is where using psychometric tests benefits the talent acquisition process immensely:
“While they are a great way to test skills and values, the problem is that the tools and tests can also be biased. For example, if a candidate knows the format and pattern of universal tests and questionnaires, they might inflate their scores. Similarly, they also have limitations as to what they can measure, and these limitations can also be cultural, industry-specific, and ability-specific. While they might give recruiters a fair idea about a specific skill or trait, they cannot capture comprehensive complexities and contexts. Plus, they are also expensive, and there are no industry-wide practices on how to safeguard this data“, asserts Joe Flanagan, Senior Employment Advisor at VelvetJobs.
However, these issues can be mitigated. All you need is a reliable, capable assessment service provider that can help you tackle the aforementioned problems with remarkable ease. Listed below are the features that highlight the benefits of choosing the right assessment provider:
In line with the best practices
An assessment carried out by a qualified and experienced service provider is going to be much more effective, reliable and valid. The reason is that these tests are constructed in accordance with the guidelines laid by renowned scientific and professional organizations, such as American Psychological Association. Moreover, trusted assessment providers would ensure that their test creators follow the best practice guidelines.
What sets them apart is the data-driven and results-oriented approach their subject matter experts follow while creating an assessment program. The assessment experts have an in-depth understanding of leveraging data to drive instruction and extract actionable and reliable assessment data, which enables them to design and deliver assessments that serve diverse client needs.
Strategic blueprint development
A perfectly developed blueprint is the cornerstone of an effective assessment program. A trusted partner works closely with the client to understand their objectives, challenges and needs before developing a robust assessment and evaluation program.
Test items and test development
Quality test items add utmost value to an assessment program. An all-rounded assessment provider considers the following aspects when developing quality items:
Construct relevance- Primarily, a test intends to measure abilities, knowledge and skills. Constructs are the abilities, knowledge and skills being gauged by the test. However, most assessment, by design, includes features that are not appropriate to the construct being measured, these are called construct-irrelevant features. So, it’s critical to consider construct relevance when creating test items for assessments.
Bias-free- It includes prohibiting the use of test items that systematically pose disadvantages to certain group of students while giving someone an unfair advantage.
Calibration with the content standards- When test items are aligned with the content standards, it ensures that the assessment is focused on reliability and fairness for all test takers.
One of the most decisive factors is the data analytics and reporting feature. It’s worth considering that whether an assessment provider harnesses the power of analytics and automation to furnish interactive, insightful, actionable, and easily comprehensible reports for effective decision making. A top-notch provider provides functionalities for synthesizing numerous data-points, with formats support across devices and platforms while also ensuring that the reports are customized to the client’s requirements.
Although psychometric tests hold multi-faceted benefits, many experts opine that these tests are best administered in unison with other selection methods, such as domain assessments, interviews, etc., rather than implemented alone. The reason is that interpreting results and drawing conclusions from psychometric testing is not always easy to come by, mainly due to the complexity involved. For example, some test-takers may be adept at selecting the ‘right answers, even if their correct responses don’t necessarily reflect their true self.
On the other hand, some candidates who may be perfectly adequate for a role may give a faltering performance in the test due to various reasons, such as anxiety. Thus, while psychometric testing positively impacts talent acquisition practices, it needs to be administered by professionals with expertise in delivering the test and interpreting the results correctly. Although it can become a costly affair if delivered injudiciously, it probably wouldn’t be cost-efficient for applying these tests on every job role, mainly those at an entry-level.
The results from psychometric testing and intriguing insights from other means of assessments such as role-play exercises, interviews, recruitment presentations, etc., together can provide a holistic overview of the candidate’s suitability for a role.
There is an array of psychometric tests available to pick from. Some tests aim at assessing a specific aptitude or skill, while others intend to delve deeper into a subject’s particular traits. Listed below are some of the most widely administered psychometric tests:
Every person has certain personality traits. Personality tests provide informed insights into an individual’s personality. Understanding the personality helps a recruiter choose the right job profile if the candidate is selected. A personality test also indicates whether the selected individual would be the right fit in the organizational culture. It encompasses an individual’s patterns of thoughts and feelings and is also linked to behavioral competencies. The test can also measure their motivation toward work and what drives them.
While there are models aplenty for conducting personality assessments, most companies follow the OCEAN model, which is also known as the five-factor model (FFM). It categorizes the human personality into five groups, depending on various traits, such as:
Openness: People who like to seek new experiences and are curious about art and aesthetics.
Conscientiousness: It is related to self-discipline and acting responsibly. It also signifies how an individual controls their impulses.
Extraversion: It suggests people skills and how individuals perform in social settings.
Agreeableness: It shows how individuals get along with others.
Neuroticism: It suggests emotional instability and negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.
There are different ways to conduct an objective analysis of the candidates. It depends on the recruiter’s priority and needs for administering a personality test to solve a purpose.
Aptitude tests, also known as cognitive tests, holistically assess a candidate’s ability to think logically. It includes questions that assess the core brain functions such as problem-solving, reasoning and decision-making. It is a widely used method in making hiring decisions by recruiters globally. Aptitude tests can be categorized into various testing types, some of which are listed below:
Numerical Reasoning: It evaluates the candidate on the ability to work with numbers and calculations.
Verbal Reasoning: It is used to evaluate a candidate’s ability to understand written information and decision-making.
Logical Reasoning: It primarily focuses on a candidate’s ability to conclude from given information.
Inductive Reasoning: It is used to assess the candidate’s logical problem-solving ability. It helps you identify and interpret patterns from unfamiliar problems to solve complex problems.
Diagrammatic Reasoning: It evaluates the logical thinking skills of applicants for solving complex problems. Typically, candidates applying for consulting, engineering and finance are likely to undertake these tests.
Error checking: This type of test explores the candidate’s ability to identify different errors within the available information.
Leadership psychometric tests are scientifically validated assessments administered to help determine the competencies that a leader is expected to possess. These tests are instrumental in assisting recruiters in analyzing how well a person may fit in specific leadership roles, thus helping them hire the best-fit candidate. Leadership tests are a strong indicator of a potential candidate’s capabilities. These tests are also helpful in measuring the skills of existing employees, which is crucial for preparing a reskilling workforce plan as per the industry’s changing needs.
Sales psychometric tests help recruiters objectively find and hire salesforce with the inherent potential for long-term success. By conducting a sales aptitude test, employers can gain insights into the candidate’s skill levels, abilities, motivating factors, and behavioral traits, enabling them to select the best person for a sales-centric role. Therefore, it is essential to assess certain traits, soft skills, communication skills, and a few other attributes that are imperatively needed in sales when selecting applicants for sales roles. That is where such tests come in handy.
Behavioral assessments provide an excellent way for recruiters to gain insights into the behavioral competencies of candidates. These new-age tools test candidates in a simulated work environment wherein they exhibit behavioral competencies in one or more activities that resemble an actual workplace situation pertaining to their job role. This test explains how an applicant responds to certain conditions, which helps employers predict their future behavior.
The human element is what decides whether a business will result in either definite success or definite failure. This makes psychometric testing mission-critical for ensuring that top talent is hired, identified and developed for various organizational roles.
The comprehensive suite of psychometric tests from Mercer | Mettl is well-crafted to evaluate the personality traits, aptitude, intelligence, abilities and behavioral style of candidates. These tests have been designed to objectively measure an individual’s personality traits, aptitude, intelligence, abilities and behavioral style in a result-oriented manner. These assessments are a sure-fire way to gauge whether the candidate is the right-fit for a specific job role considering the two core skills: personality and ability.
Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric assessments and tools suit every client’s unique needs at any stage of the talent management and optimization process. Mercer | Mettl’s customizable solutions suit every client’s unique needs and reduce the scope for human errors. Organizations can leverage these scientific and data-backed tools to address their key hiring issues.
Mercer | Mettl offers a massive inventory of psychometric assessments that are a product of extensive research and strong alignment to renown psychometric theories, such as The Big Five Theory, Iceberg Model, etc.
1- Uncovering the human personality- Mercer | Mettl psychometric tools holistically assess various aspects of human personality and behavior, as listed below:
Positive Personality Traits: These are the key traits of employees that enable organizations to maintain a positive culture, innovate, adapt and succeed.
Dark Personality Traits: These are negative traits avoided by any organization to maintain a healthy working environment.
X-factors (Motivation, Value, Preference, etc.): It suggests how various other factors such as preference, motivation, values, etc. eventually feed into a person’s psychological and social development, thereby motivating and driving that person to achieve her/his goals.
Cognitive Abilities- These are brain-based skills one needs to process any activity. The way information is perceived, the critical thinking, decision making, problem-solving ability, etc. form its substratum.
2- Accurate personality assessment via tools – Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric tools for recruitment are capable of assessing various underlying personality traits with predictive insights, individually designed to uncover the motivation factor, bright side, and dark side in candidate/employee during hiring/training.
Mercer|Mettl Personality Profiler (MPP)
Mercer|Mettl Personality Profiler is a personality assessment tool based on the Big Five model of personality traits. It is suitable for assessing the personality traits and behavioral competencies of senior employees within an organization. Mercer|Mettl Personality Profiler also caters to the clients’ specific needs and allows them to execute a smooth-running recruitment process. It is designed to help employers gain access to otherwise hidden information about a job applicant or an employee, that is critical in influencing their behavior at work.
Mercer|Mettl Sales Profiler (MSP)
Mercer|Mettl Sales Profiler is a well-designed tool to identify people with a knack for sales. The tool can assess the behavioral and cognitive competencies required for the sales profile, enabling recruiters and employers to build a winning sales team. With this psychometric assessment tool, it becomes possible to evaluate a sales person’s true potential for each job role; from selling shoes in stores, to selling a house on rent, to selling complex IT solutions to CXOs.
Mercer|Mettl Dark Personality Inventory
The dark traits talk about an individual’s negative qualities that create an unhealthy environment in the workplace. Considering that, Mercer| Mettl’s dark personality inventory can give information about a person’s six dark traits: self-obsession, opportunism, insensitivity, temperamental, impulsiveness and thrill-seeking behavior. These traits are undesirable, and it is equally essential for an employer to be aware of such negative qualities in existing and future employees.
Mercer|Mettl Personality Map (MPM)
Mercer|Mettl Personality Map is a comprehensive and new-age personality mapping tool. It works beyond the well-known ‘Big Five’ model. It includes some unique personality traits such as risk propensity, take charge and growth mindset that provides various predictive insights about employee behavior. Moreover, it can be used throughout the employee life cycle, such as during hiring and training and development. As a result, it is incredibly relevant for higher-level competencies and assessing senior-level employees.
3- Improved business outcomes – Mercer|Mettl tools can be leveraged and customized across the employee lifecycle, including pre-hiring screening, skills assessment, training, and development programs for employees, certification exams, and beyond.
Hire candidate whose characteristics, outlook, and behavior fit in with the organizational culture. Mercer|Mettl tools will help you recruit role-fit as well as culture-fit candidates.
Use these psychometric tests to align employee's professional competencies with business objectives. These tests are pivotal in identifying the specific training needs of employees and ascertaining the effectiveness of training incorporated.
Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric assessments are crucial in addressing the organization’s long and short-term objectives through high potential identification and succession planning within the enterprise.
Thus, Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric assessments not only contribute to well-informed hiring decisions but also provide insights to help new recruits become better managers and grow into the most competent leaders.
Originally published May 1 2018, Updated November 26 2021
Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.
Psychometric tests measure an individual’s personality traits and behavioral tendencies to predict job performance. Psychometric assessments gauge cultural fitment, trainability, motivations, preferences, dark characteristics, etc., to hire and develop the right people.
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