The Importance of Getting Psychometric Assessment ‘Right’

Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people about the ‘ins and outs’ of psychometric assessment – how it works, when you should use it, and how to make sense of the information it provides.

Call me a nerdy psychologist, but this is an area I’m quite passionate about – educating employers, hiring managers, and HR practitioners about the way assessment should and shouldn’t be used.  Why?  Well, to me the answer is obvious – because making decisions about this kind of stuff is pretty important.

Get it right and you’ve significantly increased your chances of selecting the ‘right’ person for the job – that is, someone who can help your business to thrive and succeed, and have a healthy impact on the organisation’s bottom line.

From the candidate’s perspective, you’ve also helped that individual to find a role that represents a good ‘fit’ given their unique set of skills, capabilities, and motivation. 

It’s a win-win situation, really. 

Three pieces of white jigsaw puzzle

On the other hand, get assessment ‘wrong’ and you’ve possibly spent a bunch of money hiring someone who will ultimately end up costing the organisation time, money, and resources, often due a poor fit with the role, team, or organisational culture.

And the stakes are even higher if the role has a significant impact on organisational performance – or involves managing other valued employees.

This makes getting psychometric assessment ‘right’ pretty important, don’t you think?

So now you might be wondering – how do people get it ‘wrong’?  From what I’ve seen, the most common mistakes are these:

Using inappropriate or outdated assessment tools, such as clinical assessment tools that are not work-relevant, or tools that were designed for development (and not selection) purposes

Selecting the wrong tests given the role requirements – e.g. tests that are either too difficult or too easy, or do not measure those qualities and aptitudes most relevant to the role

Having a limited understanding of the role of psychometric testing – i.e. when and how assessment should be used within the broader recruitment and selection process, what the information does and doesn’t mean, and how the information should be used

Inadequate test administration processes – failing to properly brief candidates on 1) the process, 2) the importance of setting up an appropriate testing environment for themselves, and 3) the way in which the information will be used.

In my opinion, this last issue has become an extremely common problem in recent years as a result of psychometric assessments primarily being conducted online, in unsupervised environments.

While there are many benefits associated with the online availability of assessments, many candidates no longer even receive a phone call or detailed email from the assessment provider or employer, which certainly does not represent best practice. This issue can have significant flow-on effects for employers, as a negative candidate experience often impacts your company’s reputation, making you less likely to be viewed as an ‘employer of choice’.

So the key message here?

Including psychometric assessment in your recruitment process definitely adds value – especially if you are struggling to get the ‘right’ people, need to reduce turnover, or want to increase levels of employee engagement and motivation.

But you need to do it well. 

Choosing the right supplier is key – at least if you want to maximise your investment, ensure a positive candidate experience, and get the best possible outcome from your psychometric testing process.