More than 75% of the Times Best Companies to Work For use psychometric testing in their selection process. But what are the pros and cons? We take a look at the science and facts.
In today’s fast-paced and evolving world, a candidate’s experience is becoming less important. Yes, skills are important. But there’s now more emphasis on hiring candidates that have an aptitude for learning, adaptability and will fit the culture too.
“In today’s mobile-first world where unexpected change is the flavor of the day (every day), organizations need to adapt at the intersection of learning and leadership; they must compete at the speed of adaptability and adapt at the speed of learning”.
Jeff Boss, Staying Competitive Requires Adaptability, Forbes
Psychometric testing can provide an objective snapshot of whether candidates meet these criteria.
But before you decide to build psychometrics into your recruitment process, we’ll guide you through the pros and cons of using them.
The Pros of Psychometric Testing
We’re all human, so interview biases can creep into the interview process, whether we like to admit it or not. (For more on this, read: 7 Deadly Cultural Fit Biases to Leave at the Door)
Psychometric tests can help prevent this by providing a more objective view of a person’s personality, skills and suitability.
Deeper insight into cultural fit (or “add”)
During an interview, it’s human nature that candidates will say what they think you want to hear. For example, someone may say that they enjoy working in a team but they really prefer to work alone where they won’t be ‘slowed down’.
Tools such as Myers-Brigg and the DISC profile provide an in-depth overview of a person’s personality type – from their strengths and weaknesses to how they operate and communicate at work.
Help identify those who will excel in the role, not just at the interview
Speak to anyone and they’ll probably say, “Oh, everyone lies on their CV!”. And it’s something backed by a CV-Library survey, where 92.5% of UK job-seekers admitted to lying on their CVs.
Sadly 47 % of hiring managers have never received any formal training in how to conduct an interview. Skills-based, aptitude and reasoning tests can help to confirm whether a candidate will be able to perform the job. They also help identify those with great potential – those ‘diamonds in the rough’.
Ask more meaningful interview questions
The results of psychometric tests can also be used to develop deeper, more targeted interview questions. And those same questions will help the candidates understand if the role is right for them, whilst providing a more personalised interview experience).
A useful management tool
Psychometric tests can help management understand and adapt to a candidate’s preferred communication and working style. They will also be aware of what motivates them e.g. praise/recognition/rewards.
(And if you’re struggling to beat off the competition, knowing which parts of your Employer Value Proposition to re-emphasise can help you get the edge).
The Cons of Psychometric Testing
Psychometric tests need to be delivered by someone who can administer & interpret them
Those that interpret and feedback on psychometric test results must undergo stringent training developed by the British Psychological Society (BPS). It involves much more than filling in an online quiz, so it can be difficult to administer.
They can be costly
The cost of psychometric testing varies but you can typically expect to pay around £100 per test.
This cost understandably needs to be weighed against the benefits they can bring, which usually will be less in lower-skilled roles.
Candidates may see them as disproportionate to the role
Most employers are now aware of just how important the candidate experience is and wasting a candidate’s time can be a sure-fire way to ruin your employer brand.
So consider carefully whether psychometric testing is proportionate to the role and, if so, which tests are relevant for the job.
There is no guarantee of accuracy
Candidates can attempt to ‘game’ the system. For example, at Cast UK, it’s probably unlikely that anyone would admit to dealing badly with rejection! A savvy candidate is unlikely to select an option that clearly reveals traits not in line with the role.
Whether you decide to opt for psychometric testing or not, it’s worth heeding the lessons from the Co-operative Bank’s near collapse due to a $1.5 billion hole in its accounts.
Its Chairman at the time, Paul Flowers AKA “The Crystal Methodist” was found to have bought illegal drugs and used the bank’s phone and computer systems to access premium rate chat lines and exchange sexually explicit messages. Hardly in keeping with the Co-op ’s ethical stance.
As John Rust, director of the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, said:
“Openness to experience is one of the big five scales in personality testing, and clearly one that Mr Flowers may have scored highly on. But you would need to follow that with an interview that asked exactly what type of experiences he is open to.”
John Rust in Financial Times