An Introduction to Psychometric Testing for Recruiters

Learn everything you need to know about psychometric testing during the recruitment process in this ultimate guide — as well as information on where to access them!

Psychometric Testing for Recruiters

Psychometric testing is widely used in recruitment, particularly for selecting candidates for roles in large multinational companies. Consider it a shortcut to selecting the candidate that is most aligned with your organisation in terms of personality, behaviours and competency.

Too often, recruitment can be a costly process, sometimes resulting in the selection of the wrong candidate, who leaves after a short time, forcing the recruitment process to restart. With psychometric testing, there is a higher chance of selecting a candidate that fits.

What is psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing is a scientific method used to test personality traits and cognitive ability to make sure candidates can perform certain roles and tasks. These can be difficult to assess in an interview or through understanding a person’s experience and education alone. Psychometric testing adds an extra element to the recruitment process.

What can psychometric testing measure?

A recruiter can use psychometric tests to assess a range of attributes, including cognitive ability, personal traits, mental health and motivation. The tests are tailored to specific, relevant situations and the results are interpreted by psychologists to make a link between the traits and potential job performance. Some examples of what may be tested for include leadership skills, ability to work under pressure, teamwork, personality and personal ethics that align with the role or organisation.

What are the advantages of using psychometric testing during?

There are many advantages with aptitude testing of adding another level to the recruitment process and digging a little deeper to ensure you have the right candidate for your organisation. Here are our top five:

1. They give more detail
Résumés, applications and interviews alone provide little information about a person’s personality, emotional intelligence and communication style. Knowing these things allows a recruiter to better understand how a candidate will perform in certain situations, like taking risks, leading a team and working under pressure. This additional information can be invaluable in determining whether a person will be able to do the job in question.

2. They provide a comparison
Psychometric testing provides measurable results, which makes it easier to compare candidates when deciding who would be a better fit for the role. It is easy to filter out candidates with low scores quickly and efficiently.

3. They show if there’s a culture fit
Psychometric tests can give great insight into personality traits and ethics, which can provide information on whether candidates will fit well within an organisation. Finding people who share your company values — as well as being completely qualified — can be difficult, but personality and situational judgment tests can combat this.

4. They give insight into future progression
Understanding a person’s motivations, styles and preferences means that it’s possible to make sure working processes suit the candidate long term. The results of psychometric tests can give managers valuable insight into how to maintain job satisfaction.

5. They save time and money
Rather than making costly mistakes by recruiting the wrong candidate, psychometric tests give enough detail for you to make an informed decision during the selection period. Selecting candidates that ‘fit’ means less time is spent re-recruiting and money is not wasted on internal training and onboarding only for that person to be short-lived within the organisation.

What are the disadvantages of using psychometric testing?

Every process has some disadvantages to weigh against the advantages. We’ve picked 5 for you to consider:

1. The pressure may be too much
Whilst psychometric testing is considered an accurate, reliable method of testing candidates, there are factors that can lead to results being skewed. This is particularly true for aptitude tests under timed conditions. In an interview situation, the pressure may become too much for some, leading to underperformance on the day of the test.

2. Candidates may not be truthful
When it comes to questionnaires, it may be the case that candidates are giving answers they think recruiters want to hear rather than being wholly truthful, thus creating a false impression of the candidate. For high-powered positions especially, candidates will most likely be prepared and know what kind of person and values the organisation they are applying to is looking for. This could influence their answers as they strive to answer like the ideal candidate.

3. They may be poorly planned
These tests can be highly effective, but only if they’re planned properly. It’s important to know exactly what to measure in order to plan effective assessments that add value and apply to the role in question. To ensure this is the case, recruiters should get advice from a professional psychometric tester.

4. Tests alone are not enough
A psychometric test is a small piece of the puzzle. They are effective, but are not a standalone indicator. For the information they provide to be valuable, it needs to be read in combination with all other data and information taken from the recruitment and interview process.

5. There’s an upfront cost
Whilst it’s agreed that psychometric testing can save time and money in the long run by selecting the right candidate that stays with the organisation long term, there is a large upfront cost associated with the process. This is due to the need for tests to be designed, administered and analysed by professionals in the field. This can mean that for small businesses, the process isn’t possible.

Most of these disadvantages can be overcome with proper planning to ensure relevance, as well as by making sure they are administered by a professional. Using psychometric tests as a part of the recruitment process can help recruiters draw more information from potential candidates, although the tests are not meant to be used alone. That’s part of the reason why it’s important to combine all the information so you can make the right decision for your company.

How accurate is psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing can be an accurate method of determining whether a candidate is a good fit for an organisation, providing it is administered properly, giving the correct context to applicants so that the results are relevant. It is advised that tests are designed and given by professionals to ensure their validity.

As there are such a vast array of tests available, it’s especially important to get advice on which tests are going to work for a specific organisation. Some tests were not designed for a hiring process but are often used by recruiters with little knowledge. For example, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a very well known test used the world over, however according to the Myers-Briggs Foundation, this is a tool to get a better understanding of a candidate but not as a tool for selection.

Tests also need to be written in a way that overcomes the possibility that candidates may make up their answers to cover what they think a recruiter wants to hear, instead of what is true. Whilst this possibility can’t be eliminated completely, it’s important that psychometric tests are used within a recruitment process as a way to complement other methods so as not to get skewed results. Tests should be used to provide additional data to better inform the hiring process, to add an extra layer of information to be used alongside other methods.

Which platforms can be used to test candidates?

There are many platforms out there that can be used to test candidates, or to give you an overview of the types of career tests available. Here is our pick of four, but these are by no means the only ones available.

This is our very own career test service. CareerHunter helps recruiters find out more in-depth information about potential employees by testing their abstract, numerical and verbal reasoning skills, among others. These tests are designed to evaluate interests, personality, motivations and aptitudes to make sure candidates are the right fit for your organisation.

Offering a Career Personality Test, MyPlan help to determine a candidate's workplace strengths, career interests and skills, as well as a test about personal values.

Big Five Personality Test
This test accurately measures five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and matches them to a candidate’s ability to work in a team, under pressure, their levels of stress, their temperament and their self-discipline to provide an insight into career choices. The Big Five Personality Test is available through Truity.

Using neuroscience-based games, Pymetrics measure cognitive and emotional traits and match candidates to a selection of jobs based on their strengths and weaknesses.

Final thoughts

Psychometric tests are an excellent way of gaining information on candidates that can’t be established through the application and interview process alone. This can be valuable in ensuring that the chosen candidate aligns with your organisation. As with anything, results aren’t fool-proof and there is a cost involved, but if tests are selected for relevancy and administrated by a professional, they can be hugely beneficial.

Have you thought about introducing psychometric tests into your recruitment process? Let us know in the comments below!

This is an updated version of an article originally published 14 June 2017.