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Psychometric testing – when should this technology be relied on; when should it be set aside?

by Heat Recruitment

In 1905, Alfred Binet crafted the first modern intelligence test. Fast forward one hundred and eighteen years, and aptitude testing has hit the mainstream, with institutes such as MENSA and the Prometheus society spawning with the sole aim of furthering this field of research.

Psychometric testing is, in short, a standardised assessment tool for measuring and analysing human behaviours. This information is then scored, sorting testees into various categories. It’s a method of measuring the potential of an individual, their cognitive ability, and any particular traits and patterns.

When businesses take on new talent, they are making an investment. Investing wisely has always gone hand-in-hand with extensive research and due diligence. In turn, psychometric testing has boomed in recent years, making a home in the HR function of three-quarters of employers.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, a debate has emerged with some arguing as to whether the technology can truly be relied upon, and whether it should be set aside in certain circumstances.

The defence

It’s hard to deny the advantage that psychometric testing has in measuring underlying traits that can be hidden at the interviewing stage. Baseline intelligence, motivation, critical thinking and even personality can be difficult to gauge in the space of a couple of interviews.

Pre-rehearsed lines and stock answers can be used by candidates to easily evade examining questions, leaving hiring manages to rely on gut instinct. Psychometric testing allows for you to add a degree of scientific objectivity to the recruitment process, cutting out any emotional drivers, like a good rapport in at the interview stage.

For organisations that have high numbers of applications for their job postings, this form of testing allows them the opportunity to streamline the recruitment process. By pre-testing all of the potential interviews, a hiring manager can save time and reduce workload gets by focussing on a much smaller and refined talent pool.

The prosecution

As with all data, people tend to get a little bit over-excited by results that reinforce their preconceived notions. While a psychometric test will provide a numerical measure, all scientific research is not without scrutiny. Individual differences, external factors and previous experience can all skew psychometric tests, thus painting only a partially formed portrait of personality.

It’s vitally important to remind yourself not to over-interpret the data you have accrued from testing. Put simply, you may be missing out on a star candidate who wasn’t at their best in favour of someone who may be an inferior prospect but was very experienced in psychometric tests.

The verdict

To lean on our experience, we believe psychometric testing works best when combine with additional, more conventional methods. It can’t be a crutch for interviewers without the necessary skills to discern a star candidate from someone who shouldn’t be hired – instead, it should be seen as a tool for interviewers to complement their own skills.

While psychometric tests can aid in filtering your applicant pool and streamline the process, hiring decisions should not solely be based on the results of one test. Gut instinct while interviewing a candidate may have no scientific basis behind it, but for smaller businesses, personal interactions are still king of the recruitment process.

If you’re looking for expert advice on your hiring process, our expert team at Heat Recruitment is on hand. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help.

By Alex Russon