With more and more employers making use of psychometric testing in the staff hiring process, we recently garnered thoughts from a number of HR professionals, business owners, and recruiters. A number of issues were raised that highlighted differing perceptions of not just the value of testing but also concerns with the methodology and application of assessments. In order to address some of these issues, we spoke with Peter Giannas who manages Project Human Resources and has more than 20 years’ experience administering, interpreting and applying psychometric assessments.

Firstly, some employers were still in two minds about the value of psychometric testing for their business.  

Peter said that he talks about psych testing every day and it’s a subject he is passionate about. He explains that making hiring decisions involves collecting information which we traditionally do through CV’s, interviews and reference checks to name but a few. The reality is that each of these methodologies is a subjective measure of a person’s abilities and personal style. Psychometric tests are quantitive and that allows us to compare individuals without the personal biases that occur when people are required to make judgments. Furthermore, when used in conjunction with these other methods, they are a very good way to help validate our opinions and can help lead the way when probing specific areas of potential strengths or weaknesses during interviews and reference checking.

Furthermore, he said that it was important to remember that psychometric tests are more than just pre-employment screening tools. Among other things they assist with management decisions, help in team building and act as valuable tools in professional development.

A major issue of concern for our respondent group was the perception that companies tend to over test. Psychometric assessments may not always add value at every level of the organisation.

Peter said that this is not true, they do add value at every level because they accurately measure and quantify all of those qualities we try to assess when making recruitment decisions, whether that be for a c-suite executive, an administrator, an operator or a supervisor.

He did, however, caution against over testing and said it’s important to keep it simple, assess the main criteria and choose a battery that can be applied across the board from the top down. He said that “what we don’t do is over-test or for that matter test for no good reason…. This is important for all sorts of reasons but first and foremost it’s because we want people to perform at their best. It’s easy to maintain focus for a couple of hours, not so easy to do it for five or six. The tests we choose are short and relevant – our testing sessions are a couple of hours maximum and that includes face to face feedback.”

A significant concern highlighted in our survey pointed to potential issues with administration. Can we test remotely and can people do them online?  How do you ensure consistency across the experience and how do we limit external issues influencing a person’s test-taking performance on the day?

Peter’s answer to this is straightforward, only administer under supervised conditions.  Whilst remote online testing may be convenient, we just can’t guarantee that the conditions are the same for each person.

“We test in our offices and the advantage of that is, not only can we ensure integrity of the testing session, we can also ensure the candidate understands what they need to do, we make them feel comfortable and we make them feel relaxed”.

“There’s a level of professionalism too in being tested in our offices which demonstrates to the potential employee that the hiring company is serious about them and the role.”

Another concern raised by our survey respondents was how to deliver feedback to candidates. Receiving poor results and either conveying these or even not conveying these to candidates impacts the candidate experience and ultimately could damage the employer brand.

Peter’s stance on the subject is that “feedback is essential”. “We use at as an integral part of our process. It enables us to drill down into an individuals’ traits and understand how these may manifest themselves in behaviors in the workplace”

He also said that it helps to understand how the person has approached the testing, whether they were comfortable or whether some external event had affected their performance. Furthermore, “It’s a nice thing to do.  It’s the right thing to do.  People come in, they give us two hours of their time. We subject them to a battery of tests.  The least we can do is tell them how they went and because we know what we’re doing, we give feedback in such a way that people feel good. We aim for a positive experience.”

In summary, therefore, the main points he raises are.

  1. Psychometric tests add quantitive validity to the assessment process.
  2. Psychometric tests can also help leaders to make better management, training and development decisions.
  3. Tests can be useful across the board and at every level of an organisation.
  4. Make certain that the correct and relevant battery of tests are selected and ones that can be completed in a reasonable timeframe.
  5. Always test under supervised conditions.
  6. Professional feedback to the candidate is an integral part of the process not an added extra.

In considering these different takes on psychometric testing, it’s reasonable to conclude that valid assessments run by experienced, professional administrators can help companies measure critical elements for success in a position. Although employers should still look for evidence of those qualities in CV’s, interviews and reference checks, developing a more complete picture can certainly help in making shrewd hires.

As research continues to point to these assessments as helpful predictors of performance – one thing is clear:  psychometric testing is here to stay.