In today's competitive job market, employers are constantly seeking ways to evaluate candidates and make informed hiring decisions to ensure they are the right for the role, the team and the company culture. On one side the hiring manager will want to ensure the candidate will be up and running and productive in the role as quickly as possible, but also that they will stay with the company for a decent amount of time so that the company can maximise the return on investment in bringing in new talent.
Typically for roles in sales, candidates are usually requested to present a pitch, product management and product marketing candidates a case study, essentially to test their hard skills, and this is usually effective in differentiating the levels of the candidates. An additional step, and used for roles across most disciplines, hiring companies are increasingly using psychometric tests to assess soft skills, behaviour and personality fit with the company’s values.
As an example, one of our clients has a standard five-interview round recruitment process including pitches or case studies where the fourth interview is a psychometric test which is considered the most critical. Even if a candidate scores 100% in the first three rounds, if the psychometric test shows behaviours not in line with the company’s expectations, the candidate will not pass through to the offer phase. While nerve-wracking for a recruitment partner like me, the company has very high employee retention rates for those that make it through hence the importance of such tests to the client.
What are the pros and cons of using psychometric tests?
- Objective Evaluation: Psychometric tests provide employers with standardized and objective data about candidates. Unlike subjective assessments that can be influenced by biases, psychometric tests focus on measurable qualities, reducing the potential for human error and bias in the evaluation process.
- Predictive Validity: Research suggests that well-designed psychometric tests can predict job performance and success. By measuring cognitive abilities, personality traits, and skills relevant to the role, these tests can help identify candidates who are likely to excel in a particular job, enhancing the chances of making successful hiring decisions.
- Time and Cost Efficiency: Psychometric tests can be administered to a large number of candidates simultaneously, saving significant time and resources for employers. Automated scoring and computerized analysis further expedite the evaluation process, allowing recruiters to efficiently assess candidates' suitability for the job.
- Standardization and Fairness: Psychometric tests provide a consistent and standardized approach to evaluating candidates. This helps ensure fairness in the recruitment process, as all applicants are subjected to the same assessment measures. By minimizing subjectivity and personal biases, these tests create a level playing field for all candidates.
- Identifying Hidden Traits: Psychometric tests can uncover valuable insights into a candidate's personality, cognitive abilities, and emotional intelligence. These tests go beyond what can be gleaned from resumes and interviews, providing a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's potential fit within the organization.
- Limited Scope: Psychometric tests have their limitations when it comes to assessing complex human traits. They often focus on specific aspects, such as cognitive abilities or personality traits, and may not capture the full range of a candidate's capabilities or potential. Relying solely on psychometric tests may overlook important factors that could contribute to an individual's success in a role.
- Cultural Bias: Some psychometric tests may exhibit cultural bias, which can adversely affect candidates from diverse backgrounds. If tests are designed primarily based on Western cultural norms and values, candidates from different cultural backgrounds may face disadvantages, leading to underrepresentation and unfair assessment outcomes.
- Lack of Contextual Information: Psychometric tests provide quantitative data but may lack the contextual information necessary to understand a candidate's specific experiences, achievements, or career trajectory. By focusing solely on test results, recruiters may miss out on valuable qualitative information that could be relevant to the job requirements.
- Potential for Misinterpretation: Interpreting psychometric test results requires expertise and understanding of psychometric principles. Without proper training or interpretation guidelines, there is a risk of misinterpreting the scores, leading to incorrect judgments about a candidate's suitability for a role. Misinterpretation can result in missed opportunities for potentially excellent candidates or the hiring of unsuitable individuals.
At Antal International in Geneva, we offer free psychometric tests as part of a retained, bespoke search for our clients because we believe they are a valuable tool in the recruitment process, providing objective and standardised data to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role, as well as their fit within the team they would join, and the company culture and values. They also can accelerate decision-making and help reduce uncertainty on whether the candidate will fit in.
In our team in Geneva, we have qualified coaching expertise to work with the hiring manager to ensure the results are correctly interpreted, and any cultural bias is taken into consideration to offer a balanced analysis.
However, while psychometric tests are a critical part of the recruitment process for most roles, it’s important that they are used as part of a holistic evaluation approach that considers other factors such as interviews, CVs, qualifications, references, motivation for the role as well as relevant experience for a thorough and balanced assessment.
Understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Psychometric Tests
Psychometric tests have become widely used in various settings, including recruitment, personal development, and career counselling. These tests provide valuable insights into an individual's cognitive abilities, personality traits, and behavioural tendencies. In this blog, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of five frequently used psychometric tests, shedding light on their applicability and potential limitations but first let’s look at the mother of all tests – Myers Briggs!
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) set the standard when created in 1923 when it was designed to help people understand personality differences in the general population. It provides insights into personality preferences and can be helpful for self-reflection and team-building activities but is criticized for lacking scientific rigour and having low test-retest reliability. The test also tends to categorize individuals into rigid personality types.
There are now over 2’500 personality tests available. At Antal International in Geneva, we typically use the Insights psychometric test for our retained, bespoke search assignments. It consists of in-depth multiple-choice questions. A personal profile is then created, giving detailed insights into each person's strengths and weaknesses, communication style, problem-solving methodology, and contribution to the team.
Depending on what a company is looking to identify for specific roles and disciplines, the following five psychometric tests are among the most commonly used for recruitment purposes.
Personality Profiling Questionnaire Identity®:
- Provides insights into an individual's personality traits, behaviour, and preferences.
- Can help in understanding strengths and areas for development, aiding personal growth and self-awareness.
- Useful in team building, career development, and employee selection, ensuring better job-person fit.
- Responses may be influenced by social desirability bias, leading to less accurate results.
- Limited in predicting job performance or specific skills.
- Interpretation requires expertise, and incorrect analysis might lead to misinformed decisions.
SHL Scenarios Situational Judgement Test:
- Assesses how candidates handle real-life work scenarios, providing a glimpse into their problem-solving abilities.
- Relatively quick to administer and can be administered online.
- Fairly reliable in predicting job performance and behaviour in work-related situations.
- May lack specificity for certain job roles or industries.
- Limited in capturing the full complexity of a candidate's capabilities.
- Some candidates might overthink responses, affecting the authenticity of results.
OPQ Leadership Report Management Level:
- Specifically designed to assess leadership qualities and potential.
- Provides valuable information for leadership development and succession planning.
- Benchmarks candidates against successful leaders, aiding in identifying high-potential individuals.
- Primarily focused on leadership traits, might not cover other important job-related competencies.
- Interpretation requires expertise, and misinterpretation can lead to inaccurate assessments.
- Could be relatively expensive compared to more general psychometric tests.
Verbal Reasoning Test:
- Assesses a candidate's ability to comprehend and analyze written information.
- Relevant for jobs that require strong communication and language skills.
- Provides objective and measurable results.
- Might not be suitable for candidates with language or reading disabilities.
- Performance could be influenced by test anxiety or time pressure.
- May not capture the full range of a candidate's abilities in real-world settings.
Numerical Reasoning Test:
- Evaluates a candidate's ability to work with numerical data, critical in many job roles.
- Offers objective and quantifiable results.
- Helps identify candidates with strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
- Might not be applicable to roles that don't heavily involve numerical data.
- Some candidates may find it challenging due to math anxiety or lack of familiarity with the presented data.
- Could be time-consuming, limiting the number of candidates tested simultaneously.
Keep in mind that the effectiveness of these psychometric tests depends on how well they align with the job requirements and how they are integrated into a comprehensive assessment process. Additionally, using multiple assessment methods and tools can lead to a more accurate and well-rounded evaluation of candidates.
About Peter Wharton
Before founding Antal International in Geneva in 2017, Peter had 25+ years working in sales & marketing executive management for international IT vendors. Antal focuses on getting the best possible outcomes of recruitment.in the tech industry. We save pioneering companies time & budget, & ensure the best quality, most appropriate candidates to maximise their return on investment on hiring talent in Europe and North America.