What are psychometric tests? Psychometric tests are objective assessments of a candidate’s potential to perform successfully in a particular role. Psychometric tests measure those factors that are known through scientific research to predict the performance of employees before they are hired. Assessments done under psychometric tests include cognitive ability or general mental ability, personality assessments, integrity, emotional intelligence and career interests.
- Cognitive ability or general mental ability predicts employee performance better than any other factor used in the hiring of staff. Cognitive ability predicts more than 45% of the variation in individual employee performance. The chance of hiring a good performer is very high when you assess cognitive ability through psychometric tests.
- Integrity is another factor that predicts performance very well. It explains more than 20% of the variation in performance. People with high integrity tend to be high performers as well.
- Personality especially conscientiousness predict performance across all jobs. Other personality dimensions predict performance specific to roles e.g. when hiring a sales manager, an extroverted person tend to do well than an introverted individual. All the personality dimensions impact performance in various roles. However, what is more, important from a personality perspective is the fact that personality defects affect performance in a big way. Highly intelligence and with high technical knowledge can fail if they have personality defects that interfere with how they perform on the job.
- Please note that cognitive ability tests do not test job knowledge. They test natural talent and potential. Job knowledge tests can be designed to assist as part of the recruitment. Job knowledge contributes more than 30% of the variations in individual job performance.
- It is important to note that when you test for cognitive ability and personality at entry you are doing your organisation a huge favour. Cognitive ability and personality are largely hereditary and partly childhood experience. If you hire the wrong person with low cognitive ability and wrong personality for the role you will not be able to correct the deficiencies through training. If you put such a person through training you would be wasting your money as they are unlikely to bring significant change. You can only train people who lack job knowledge. You can not correct a cognitive ability or personality defect through training.
- Some organisations use psychometric tests for hiring across all levels while others use them for certain levels of staff. I was checking the top companies on the stock exchange and I realized that the majority of them use psychometric assessments for hiring. I do not think that this is a coincidence. It is likely a deliberate decision because they know from science that the best way to recruit top is through psychometric assessments.
- Job interviews are unreliable and this is supported by scientific evidence. They are largely unreliable because they are poorly structured and suffer from several biases. What is surprising though is that organisations continue to use unstructured interviews to make important decisions such as hiring.
- My anecdotal evidence shows that organisations that do not use psychometric tests as part of their hiring process are struggling with performance issues. You can do your checks with the organisations that you know.
- Organisations that do not use psychometric assessment tend to have corrupt recruitment process. The leadership hates psychometric tests because they want to manipulate the system and bring their people. When you use psychometric tests in your hiring the system can not be manipulated.
- A quick check of the top global organisations shows that the majority of them use psychometric tests for hiring. This on its shows you how progressive organisations tighten their recruitment and selection policies so that they hire only the best people for each role.
- Companies like Google use some of the best hiring practices. If you are interested to know what they do you can check here https://rework.withgoogle.com/
- As people move into more senior roles, assessment of critical thinking and personality become even more important. You can not assess critical thinking and personality through an interview.
- It is important to note that the level of cognitive ability required in any role increases as the complexity of the job increases. If you decide not to use psychometric tests for some roles you must make sure that you use psychometric tests for all roles where the risk of hiring the wrong person is high.
- Organisations that use psychometric tests likely end up with people who are more ethical especially if they assess integrity during the hiring process.
- If you check, you will notice most governments in developed countries use psychometric tests for hiring. Even some governments in Africa do use psychometric tests when hiring.
- Organisations that use psychometric tests when hiring are also likely to spend less money on training that is focused on addressing deficiencies which are normally expected from competent individuals. The unfortunate part is that if the deficiencies are of a cognitive or personality nature, it would mean that the organisation is probably just wasting money as no positive change will come out of such an intervention
- Psychometric assessments are good as well when assessing candidates for promotion. They are objective and take out all the biases.
- For supervisory roles upwards, in the psychometric test toolkit, you will find assessment centres. These are used to assess various competencies for people going into supervisory or managerial roles.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence to show that using psychometric testing when hiring benefits the organisation in many ways. However, should you decide to use psychometric tests as part of your hiring process make sure you are using registered Psychologists and verify their registration with the regulator, Allied Health Professions Council. It is also important that the use of psychometric tests is supported by a comprehensive policy.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number +263 77 2356 361 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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